What We Have Been Drinking–Family Reunion with The In-Laws Edition

I have spent the last ten days in the wonderful state of Colorado, initially for my wife’s cousin’s wedding just outside of Denver (in a town called Parker for all of you Denverites out there). We then headed up to nearly 10,000 feet to the town of Breckenridge, Colorado where my wife’s entire extended family (and then some) stayed under one roof for an entire week. I have been forbidden to write anything about those 10 wonderful days with one exception: As you may imagine, I was put in charge of bringing the wine and I am allowed to publish my tasting notes here. All of these wines were purchased in Parker, at Lukas Liquors Superstore, so they all should be available near you.

While at the store, with my two boys, I called my wife to ask how much wine she wanted–when she said “at least a case and a half” I nearly fell over. I thought it would be far too much, but I always try to do what I am told and quickly grabbed some favorites.

The drink of the week might have been this Fat Tire Amber Ale that I had after mountain biking with my son in Breckenridge.

I split the ten days of consumption into two posts (in the order that they were consumed), the remaining wines will appear next week.

N.V. Gruet Brut Sparking Wine: Retail $16. We popped this outside at the hotel in Parker, after the rehearsal dinner. Gruet, which is/was STILL/ONCE owned by the renowned French Champagne house is one of the better domestic sparkling wines and perhaps the most known wine that comes out of the state of New Mexico. I bought both the standard Brut (which represents the majority of the production) and the Brut Rosé (the note for which will appear next week). The Brut was a bit rounder than I remember, but also carries some wonderfully aromatic citrus fruit to the palate. The finish is ample, if a bit short. Still, for the money, this is one of the best domestic sparklers out there. Very Good. 86-88 Points.

There were two other wines that we consumed at the hotel from the original 18 bottles I purchased, but at this point, I really have no idea what they were. I take virtually all of my notes on my phone, which I always announce to those present, but this time, my wife insisted that I put the phone away and try to be social. One was a rosé from Chinon that was really nice (and cheap ~$12), but other than that, I have nothing.

2014 A to Z Oregon Rosé Wine: Retail $12. Fairly dark as rosé goes. Loads of red berry fruit on the nose. A tad or more sweet and on the flabby side than I normally like. I had high hopes for this wine as I generally like the wines that A to Z produces. I could not verify this, but I bet this is a saignée and not a particularly well done one. Good, I guess. 83-85 Points.

2012 Cercius Côtes du Rhône Vielles Vignes: Retail $15. 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah. Blackberry and cassis but both a little stewed. Big and rich–more new world than old there is some acidity but not much grip. Drink yesterday. Good. 84-86 Points.

2014 Gazela Vinho Verde: Retail $8. Vinho Verde should be near the top of everyone’s list of refreshing wines, generally low in price and alcohol, the slight effervescence adds to its joyful nature. A solid VV with great acidity and just the right amount of sparkle. Very Good. 86-88 Points.

2014 Gazela Vinho Verde Rosé: Retail $8. I honestly can’t say if I have ever had a Rosé Vinho Verde, but based on this one I might have to search them out more often. All the attributes of the standard VV, but with a watermelon and cherry aspect to it that gives it more depth and interest. Very Good Plus. 88-90 Points.

2012 Hugel Gentil: Retail $15. I am not sure of the blend, but Gentil is always a kitchen sink type of wine. Quite floral and mineral on the nose. On the palate a bit sweet with some nice fruit flavors and that minerality. Not a complex wine but likely a crowd pleaser. Very Good. 86-88 Points.

2010 Provenance Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley: Retail $40. Blackberry, black cherry, and boysenberry. This stops just short of a whoa. On the palate plenty going on. Fruit, but not huge. Acidity, but balanced. Tannin, but not overpowering. Grab some steak and a bottle of this and forget your worries. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

provenance-2010-merlot-napa-valley-548WINE of the WEEK: Choosing a wine of the week is not always as easy at it may seem (at least for me). This week, I really faced a conundrum as there was clearly a best wine of the week, but I hold a bit of a grudge against the producer–more on that later. There was also a wine that I had never had before (I think), but I had always wanted to try. So when I saw the 2014 Gazela Vinho Verde Rosé, I knew I had to get it (Lukas’ had a couple of VV rosés actually). And for the price? It was a no-brainer. It certainly lived up to my expectations and perhaps exceeded them. That brings us back to the best wine of the week, the 2010 Provenance Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley. When I saw this $40 wine on sale for $25, I grabbed it albeit with some hesitation. It has nothing to do with the winery per se and certainly nothing to do with the multitude of bottles I have had over the years. I think I can safely say that since the winery opened in 1999, I have not had a bad bottle (or even a mediocre one) from Provenance (I think I was even a member of their wine club in the early years). So why all the angst?

Well, a few years ago, I contacted the then CEO of Provenance, just wanting to say hello. Why would I take such a bold step? Well, a few years prior to that, I was said CEO’s daughter’s high school basketball coach. I had developed a relationship with the family (the player’s mother loved me) and I thought it would translate into an “in” at the winery.


No return call, no email, no free case of wine. Nothing. So I was (and am) a little bitter, but I try to hide it (how am I doing?). Regardless, Provenance really does a nice job and is worthy of being the Wine of the Week.

What was your Wine of the Week?


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Alsace, Grenache, GSM, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rhône Blends, Rosé, Vinho Verde and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking–Family Reunion with The In-Laws Edition

  1. dwdirwin says:

    What happens in Parker, stays in Parker, eh?


  2. I was in Colorado last week too! We went all over, but not to Parker, or to Breckenridge. Hope you had a chance to get out and do some sightseeing!


  3. jeffeckles says:

    Glad you enjoyed the trip, Jeff. That Fat Tire is always a great choice, one of the first craft beers I had when I moved to Colorado.


  4. Trip sounded great! “…a case and a half.” – a woman after my own heart! LOL! And, how rude of the Provenance CEO! Doesn’t he know who you are? ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

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