Friday, September 9, 2011

Colorado Winery Visit: Mesa Park Vineyards

We flew into Grand Junction, Colorado, for my niece’s wedding. Staying with my brother in Telluride, we decided to make a few winery stops in the area before heading south.

After enduring a super-early morning flight, we picked up a rental car and drove through the Colorado National Monument. It's a 23-mile rock rim ride through sensational canyon scenery.

Would the Colorado wine be as breathtaking as the view from Cold Shivers Overlook? We headed to Mesa Park Vineyards to find out. 

Mesa Park focuses on handcrafted estate grown reds. The winery is new on the scene, producing its first wines in 2009. We ambled into
the tasting room and were greeted by Chuck Price, the owner.

The winery is in the Grand Valley AVA, considered to be Colorado Wine Country. The Grand Valley began with experimental plantings in 1968. In 1990 there were only five wineries in the state, but it has ballooned to 100 today.

Mesa Park has 7.5 acres under vine, three of which are Merlot. We started with the 06 Merlot and Chuck said that this variety is one of the most successful in Colorado. The wine
had a tart berry flavor with medium body and hints of tobacco. Green Dragon called it woodsy with notes of malted milk balls. We purchased a bottle of this and enjoyed it later during our visit to Telluride.

Next up was the 06 Cab Franc Reserve which had just come out of the barrel. This was very dark in color with pronounced tannins. This contrasted with our next taste, which was the 09 Cab Franc Reserve. This was smoother than the 06 with a softer mouthfeel. It was fruit forward with bright cherry. Chuck says many state residents haven’t heard about Cab Franc. It’s about time they did!

The 06 Family Red is a Bordeaux style blend with 60% Merlot, 30% Cab Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Eight barrels of this wine were produced. We were able to compare with the 09 Family Red. The mixture was tweaked in 09 to go 40% Merlot and 30% each of Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Family Red is a
fruity and light easy drinker.

While we were enjoying the sampling, we were joined by Claudia and Paul Croy of Lakewood, CO (pictured). The next wine was their favorite. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Valley has a nice structure with a burst of strong cherry and a good, long finish.

Mesa Park is a friendly, home-grown operation with an interesting range of estate reds. For a “peak” experience, be sure to pay a visit.
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