Pop the cork on another good Western Slope grape harvest

Photos courtesy NANCY JANES, Whitewater Hill winery St. Vincent vines: Unlike many other grape varieties, the leaves on St. Vincent provide a flush of seasonal color each fall.

A note from the trade:

Among the vinous social media sites I visit is a recent post from the much-respected writer Alfonso Cevola, who says new-gen wine directors appear to be ignoring “iconic and traditional” wines and “developing (a) blind spot for classic wines like Chianti Classico and Pauillac” in favor of building “labyrinthine” wine lists based on “edginess” and “coolness.”

“I want a wine list that doesn’t take so much effort to choose from, so that I can get on to the real reason for the evening. The getting together and the sharing of a meal,” Cevola writes on his blog, “On the Wine Trail in Italy.”

“It’s as if those wines, that have been venerated by generations of wine lovers and sommeliers, are being eradicated from the lexicon of wines once considered revered and, even more important, essential,” Cevola writes.

Among his fears is that by ignoring or dropping the classic Bordeaux, Tuscans and others, wine lists begin to look alike and, worse, customers aren’t exposed to those wines.

In response, Thomas Moësse, wine director at Houston’s Divino Italian restaurant, says, “If buyers are foregoing the classics on their lists, maybe it is because they are advocates for their guest first and foremost — both are being left behind by exponential pricing increases and the corresponding unattainability of those vins de garde.”

Gone, said Moësse, is the time when clients asked “what kind of Italian restaurant doesn’t have Tignanello?”

Today, somms and wine directors regularly field queries such as “what will go best with our food?” Moësse writes. “Today’s consumer is not scanning a wine list for producers they recognize so much as they want some help with a discovery. Our job as wine service professionals is part curation and consultation.”

Which sounds as if today’s younger wine drinkers aren’t tied to the “classic” and “traditional” way of selecting a wine. Lengthy wine lists put more pressure on the diner to ask for help in finding a wine as well as more pressure on the waiter/somm to provide the right answer.

What’s your preference? Smaller lists with traditional producers or something offering “the bounty of wines” coming from around the world?

Colorado grape harvest 99 percent over: The field work is about over and now attention turns to the wineries. The 2016 wine-grape harvest is about “99.9-percent” finished, says state viticulturist Horst Caspari, and growers are reporting another big crop.

“In 17 years this is the first time we’ve had back-to-back good crops,” Caspari said. “It’s never happened before, but this is what our crop should be year in and year out.”

The large 2015 harvest allowed many winemakers to fill tanks and build their inventories, and this year’s follow-up fruit-rich harvest finds some winemakers running out of space.

A couple of wineries have purchased new tanks and oak barrels, but Caspari said there still are going to be grapes left hanging this year because there’s no market or space for them.

Why the bounty? Recent mild winters, no damaging late-spring and early fall frosts, and recent plantings finally are old enough to bear fruit.

Nancy Janes at Whitewater Hill Winery on 32 Road several years ago planted about an acre of St. Vincent, a cold-hardy variety, and this year the fourth-leaf vines produced more than 800 gallons of wine.

Check out the bright-red St. Vincent vines at the winery.

Email Dave Buchanan at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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