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Day 3, Aspen: Colorado’s lack of consistency no exception

By Dave Buchanan
ASPEN - Colorado wines didn’t play much of a presence during the 26th annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic here. Not that they were expected to, since the Classic shows off an awful lot of competition from the world’s top wine regions. But several remarks over the course of the weekend reminded me that while there’s a future for Colorado wine, the road ahead still has some bumps. Even most Colorado residents pay little heed to this state’s wines. It’s the same old saw: Try something once, if it’s not exactly what you want, never return. In spite of their improvements in quality over the last decade or so, Colorado wines continue to be ignored by wine drinkers who maybe had a bad bottle 15 years ago, can’t get over it and still refuse to give Colorado wines a try. It’s hard to find a selection of Colorado wines in most restaurants, even in Grand Junction. When fellow blogger Jeremy Parzen spent the night in Grand Junction prior to going to Aspen for the Classic, he was disappointed to find only two Colorado wines at the restaurant he chose. (Restaurant selection on a Sunday night in Grand Junction is another topic.) He didn’t try either because they didn’t fit with his meal. Pairing is kind of tough when you have only two wines, one available only by the glass, from which to choose. While listening Sunday to Richard Nalley talk about wines from South Africa, the veteran food-and-wine writer punched into what he calls the “Law of Exception.” Tightly wrapped, the law says that if one wine producer from a region can make an outstanding wine, other producers in that region can do it, too. If anything hurts any wine region in establishing a reputation, it’s inconsistency in its product. Colorado, which certainly isn’t alone in this dilemma, has yet to develop consistency across the range of its wines. Some wine makers you can count on, vintage after vintage, to offer something drinkable. Other winemakers can’t reach that bar and sometimes make wines that shouldn’t be released but are because it’s a business and there are bills to be paid. It’s true in Colorado, it’s true in Texas and California and Virginia, it’s true in Italy and France and Spain and everywhere. Developing consistency will make a wine region’s reputation. Why can’t wines in the Grand Valley AVA or the West Elks AVA be consistently good? We’re not talking great, necessarily, just harmonious, balanced, good-drinking wines that you are proud to share with a friend from Napa or anyplace. It's an interesting topic we'll pursue. And it’s doubly hard to judge a wine region’s consistency when restaurants and liquor stores are afraid to offer a selection.

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