Vintage local wine writing pulled
from the Local Winos cellar

Colorado reigns supreme; apologies to our beloved Texas and New Mexico winemakers

Wild West Wine Shootout

It's settled: Colorado rules. Photo by Sean "R U Kidding Me" Lee

Colorado can now brag its supremacy over the winemaking regions of Texas and New Mexico (and Sonoma and Provence).

How’s that, you say?

Well, to help celebrate this weekend’s DrinkLocalWine 2012 conference in Denver, we hosted a little shindig at the Bonacquisti Wine Co. aimed to settle a long waging debate. Who makes better wine? Texas, New Mexico or Colorado.

Wait, you’ve never pondered such a complex issue before?

Truthfully, we hadn’t given it much thought either, but on the heels of a few classic wine throw downs between Colorado and Virginia in years past, we figured it was time to hand out some serious bragging rights to one of the three regions covered by Local Winos Magazine. And celebrate the wine being made in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

We placed the three states into three flights covering dry (ish) rosés, Viogniers and Syrahs. Call it home field advantage if you will, but Colorado came out on top in convincing fashion during this intimate event at a Denver urban winery. It even beat out a flight of Ringers pulled from Sonoma, Lodi and Provence.

Judges for the event included Jacob Harkins, an executive sommelier and founder of Local Winos Magazine; Shirley Nelson, the New Mexico Wino and certified wine judge; and Kendra Anderson, a certified sommelier who pens a weekly wine column for Denver’s Westword newspaper. We also let the crowd pick their respective favorites.

Colorado’s Creekside Cellars (Syrah) and Boulder Creek Winery (rosé) led the way for the Centennial State, winning their respective flights. Boulder Creek, which aims for a rosé in the style of Provence, beat a rosé from Provence.

“Jackie and I were (in Provence) two year ago, and we fell in love with the rosés there,” says Boulder Creek’s Mike Thompson (wife Jackie is the winemaker). “We try to emulate that style, and I think we’ve pulled it off.”

So did McPhereson’s (Texas) rosé of Granache-Syrah, for that matter.

And that was the big take away from the evening. Even though Colorado left with the serious bragging rights over its neighbors, all three states showcased some rather nice potential, besting the Ringer in all but the Viognier flight.

There were some ugly ducklings, for sure, including a not-to-be-named Texas wine that couldn’t be poured as a layer of tartaric acid had actually sealed the bottleneck — and that wasn’t the bottle’s lone flaw. There were a few other stinkers as well, which represents the scope of wine quality in every region from Burgundy to the Grand Valley of Colorado.

But wines such as Black Mesa Vineyard’s Velarde Syrah and Brennan Vineyard’s 2007 Syrah bested a solid offering from Sonoma (Cline), and in general the top wines from each state impressed the diverse crowd that covered winemakers to casual vino drinkers.

It also left the Colorado-heavy contingent ready to brag a little. “Me, from the East Coast, brag? I don’t think so,” Thompson says dripping in sarcasm, before turning a little more serious. “Really, though, nope, we are all in this together.”

Judge’s Choice:

  1. Colorado 8 points
  2. Ringer flight 4 points
  3. New Mexico (tie) 3 points
  4. Texas (tie) 3 points

The Crowd picked Colorado (6) its winner and had a three-way tie for second (4 points apiece). Scoring: 3 points awarded for first place finish in a flight, 2 for second, 3 for third


  1. Boulder Creek Winery 2011 Dry Rose (Colorado)
  2. McPherson Cellars 2010 Rose of Grenache-Syrah (Texas)
  3. The Ringer: St. Roch Les Vignes 2011 rosé (Cotes de Provence)

The Crowd had an identical top three.


  1. The Ringer: Loredona 2010 Viognier (Lodi)
  2. Grande River Vineyards 2011 Viognier (Colorado)
  3. Black Mesa Vineyards 2010 (New Mexico)

The Crowd picked, in order, the Ringer, Becker Vineyards 2011 (Texas) and Black Mesa.


  1. Creekside Cellars 2008 (Colorado)
  2. Black Mesa Vineyards 2008 (New Mexico)
  3. Brennan Vineyards 2007 (Texas)

The Crowd picked, in order, Black Mesa, Creekside and Ruby Trust Cellars 2009 (Colorado) Note: The Ringer (Cline’s 2009 from Sonoma County) didn’t place.

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