While it’s old news that Colorado-grown grapes make exemplary sparkling wine, local wineries are upping the ante by entering the canned, effervescent beverage arena. Last week, Palisade-based Sauvage Spectrum debuted the first Colorado-made piquette—a bubbly, low-ABV sipper—and Denver’s Carboy Winery released a series of Cold Vines wine seltzers in late July. Here’s why you should add both to your shopping list.
Sauvage Spectrum’s Piquette
Producing a piquette has been on the mind of Sauvage Spectrum winemaker and co-owner Patric Matysiewski since 2019—even before he founded the winery with grape grower Kaibab Sauvage in March 2020. If you’re not familiar, a piquette is a fizzy beverage made with grape pressings or skins leftover from the traditional wine-making process. The drink, which was often consumed by vineyard workers in the past, dates back to ancient Roman times. “I saw the product popping up at the coolest wineries I follow on the East and West coasts, and I was inspired to try it,” Matysiewski says. “Further, the fact that we upcycle our estate grapes adds to our sustainability story,”
Sauvage Spectrum specializes in producing experimental pétillant naturels and easy-to-drink reds and whites with rare Grand Valley–grown grape varietals. And to make its piquette, the winery soaks the leftover pressings from these wines (which are usually thrown away) in carbon-filtered water for up to 48 hours. The pulp is pressed into stainless steel tanks, where the solution spontaneously ferments (mingles with natural yeast and bacteria strains to produce the liveliest fruity flavors) before it’s blended with a small amount of Sauvage Spectrum’s rosé. The result is a low-sugar sparkling liquid brimming with flavors of juicy cantaloupe, iced tea, and tart lemon. And at just 5.7 percent ABV, the sulfite-free, tailgate-party-ready drink is less likely to leave you hungover than your average 12 percent ABV prosecco or rosé.
“We yield a very low-sugar solution packed with interesting flavors such as cantaloupe, iced tea, and lemonade,” Matysiewski says. “We further run this process on every single white grape we bring through our winery. Therefore, the blend of grapes we are using includes riesling, grüner veltliner, vignoles, muscat, roussanne, and aromella. After dumping the skins, we compost them and mulch them back into the vineyard.”
Grand Valley artist Raleigh Carlton designed the canned piquette’s playful label, which pays tribute to Palisade’s spectacular mesas and cliffs; the area’s beautiful sunrises and sunsets; the 1980s era; and the Vaporwave electronic music movement.
Find Sauvage Spectrum’s piquette—as well as its 2020 Roussanne, 2019 Petit Verdot, and Sparklet Rosé—at select bottle shops across the state, or order cans online (when it’s back in stock). If your favorite liquor seller doesn’t carry it, Matysiewski says, shoot the winery an email and it’ll try to get it on a store shelf near you.
Carboy Winery’s Cold Vines
Carboy Winery, with outposts in Littleton, Denver’s Capitol Hill, Breckenridge, and Palisade, is no stranger to crafting sparkling wines. In fact, the company even added a Bubble Barn to its Denver location, a 1900s-era stable equipped with two stainless-steel Charmat tanks dedicated to the production of the effervescent wines. It also expanded the program in Palisade—home to a winery, vineyard, and production facility that opened just this month.
The release of Cold Vines wine seltzers, which are produced with aromella, vignoles and other cold-hardy grapes harvested from vineyards across the Grand Valley, aligns with Carboy’s dedication to sparkling products, which Kevin Webber, the brand’s CEO, thinks is the future of Centennial State wine.
“One of the things Colorado has always struggled with is not really having a varietal identity,” he says. “A lot of the grape varieties we grow and work with here in Colorado lend themselves to making great sparkling wine, and we believe that is Colorado’s future—and that’s why we’ve invested so much into our Charmat programs in Denver and Palisade. We were also paying close attention to what was happening in the seltzer category and saw an opportunity to cross-utilize some of those same varieties to innovate in that space and make our new premium wine seltzer.”
Clocking in at 5 percent ABV, Cold Vines is available in watermelon, black cherry, lemon, and peach flavors. The drinks are free of refined sugars and gently carbonated, yielding a refreshing, day-drinking-friendly concoction with the qualities of a high-quality white wine and a not-too-sweet boozy seltzer.
Want More Wine?
Both wineries offer affordable wine clubs; Sauvage Spectrum’s memberships cost $51 to $192 (three to 12 bottles shipped quarterly), while Carboy Winery’s are $65 to $239 (three to six bottles shipped quarterly). Other perks include discounts on additional bottles, exclusive releases, complimentary tastings/glasses of wine, and more.