1. I have, of course, followed Colorado wines from the very start. That would be IvancieCllrs, located in Denver and using grapes purchased from Calif, often from the Stag'sLeapDistrict. Dr.GerryIvancie was a successful Denver dentiist and started as a home winemaker, before going commercial in the early-mid-'70's. He hired as winemaker a StJohn's/Annapolis graduate and foil fencer and amateur winemaker from Chicago, who was transitioning from his position as Prof of Philosophy at Univ of Chicago, a dead-end profession, to the much more fertile career as winemaker. This winemaker, Dr.WarrenWiniarski, went on to achieve a small modicum of success in the NapaVlly when his Ivancie gig was completed.
The next wnry, and first true CO wnry, was ColoradoCllrs, also based in Denver. It was founded by a home winemaker, JimSeewald, who ran a supply shop there for home winemakers. He had convinced some farmers on the WestSlope, near Palisade, CO, to plant some grapes for him, from which he sourced for his wines.
As I was pulling wines from the archives for this tasting, I stumbled across this lone btl and thought I'd throw it in as a joke; convinced that it was absolutely dead & gone. When it was young, this wine was loaded w/ ripe/grapey/blueberry flavors; not particularly tannic or structured. But, it's a CO wine and no way could it have survived 24 yrs of cellaring. But what a friggin' surprise this wine was. It was totally alive, quite complex, very reminiscent of young Austrian BlauFrankisch; a real pleasure to drink. An absolutely astonishing wine...who'd have thunk.
2. Esola Cab: FrankMahoney started making Zin from ErnieEsola's ShenandoahVlly vnyd back in '73 or '74. They were some of the greatest Zins produced in Calif in the mid-'70's. Ernie also had a little Cab planted that Frank took as well; mostly for blending in and darkening up his NapaCabs. He would occasionally, when he has some left over after blending, btl it as a SV Cab. This be one of those.
Back in the mid-'70's, during a visit w/ Frank, he tasted me on a brl of the EsolaCab and I was blown away by it. It spoke to me more of ShenandoahVlly Zin than of Cab; w/ a strong briary/brambly/blackberry character that resembled his Esola Zins. Probably why i liked it so much. Even after Frank dropped the EsolaZin (for which I raised bloody hell with him over the yrs...and still do), he continued to by Ernie's Cab. This is some of those later purchases. It still, to my taste, resembles Amador Zin, but speaks gently of blackcurranty/Cab. Maybe the best mature Amador Cab that I've ever had.
Frank was known, back in the mid-late-'70's for is AmadorZins, though Pinot was clearly his passion. It was only later that his reputation for great Pinot eventually came to the fore. However, during those early yrs, he quietly made NapaVlly Cab, mostly from NateFay and Steltzner vnyds. They were wonderful, old-timey Calif Cabs, the likes of few would deign to make in the NapaVlly these days, the usually matured into wonderful old-timey old Cabs. He never got the recognition for his Cabs I felt he deserved.
3. OldRhoneWhite vs. OrangeWines: The Viogniers/Marsanne were quite interesting wine w/ much oldRhoneWhite character and showing varying degrees of oxidation. I thought them rather good and would go fine w/ food. However, they are not the style of wines that everyone would like. My group is pretty open-minded on wines (lord knows they have to be... considering the amount of weird stuff I throw at them), but for other folks where even a trace of oxidation is a fatal flaw...these wines are not for them. It struck me as we tasted thru them how much they resemble "orange" wines that are made in an oxidative style....interesting wines that show better w/ food...but just not to everyones taste. So....even though I like these "interesting" wines...don't become a TomHill sheep...you'll likely be led astray. If you want to be any kind of sheep...stick w/ the Monktown attourneys...safer, though more expensive.