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The Winery: Settembre Cellars
The People: After Tracy and Blake Eliasson met at a bluegrass show, they fell in love making homemade pasta and drinking Italian wine together. While experimenting with winemaking in their basement, Blake, who has a Ph.D. in engineering, became fascinated by the range of tastes he could create from a single varietal. Following his growing passion, Blake completed a graduate certificate in Enology & Viticulture at UC-Davis, then decided to scale up his production. Tracy, also an engineer, was at first a bit chagrined by how much alcohol Blake was producing, but she liked the results, and so Settembre Cellars—named for the Italian word for September, the month they were married—began.
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The Space: Settembre Cellar’s tasting room is located in North Boulder alongside US 36, next door to Bookcliff Vineyards and What We Love winery. The bright and spacious tasting room features a reclaimed American oak bar beneath cheerful creamy-yellow walls adorned with their brown “log-slice” logo. From the comfortable stools there’s a great view of the adjacent winery, which is brimming with stainless-steel fermentation tanks and racks of French oak barrels.
The Grapes: All of Settembre’s grapes are grown on Colorado’s western slope and shipped to Boulder, where Blake and Tracy carefully hand-sort them to remove contaminants like leaves, as well as withered grapes and mold, which can add undesired sugar to dry wines.
The Wine: Blake unites traditional Italian techniques with modern scientific monitoring to create nuanced wines that have a great mouth feel and a distinctive finish, rather than the up-front, jam-like “explosions” that characterize many New World wines. A great example is their Alsace-inspired 2011 Dry Riesling, which has a deep, golden color and increasingly fruity notes that pair well with fresh farmers’ market flavors like pears and sharp blue cheese.
Buzzed Trivia: Winemakers usually press their grapes after seven to 14 days, but Settembre substantially delays pressing, extending the period of maceration for up to two months to build structure, enhance the mouth feel, and capture what Blake calls “a sense of place in a bottle.”
Taste It: Settembre offers wine tastings and tours of their winery from 1 to 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. For $10 you can enjoy a flight of reds or a mixed flight, which includes two white and three red varietals. Tasting their wines side-by-side allows you to easily compare each wine’s aroma, color, and flavor. This is especially true for their two 2009 Cabernet Sauvignons. Both are made from single-vineyard, single-varietal grapes grown just three miles apart, but their aromas and tastes are surprisingly distinct. The Mesa Cabernet Sauvignon, grown at a slightly higher elevation on a vineyard that allows a heavier canopy to develop, has a delicious serrano pepper taste, whereas the valley-grown version has less spice and a more fruit-forward taste that pairs well with chocolate.
Take Home: By patiently aging their wine prior to its release and allowing time, not filtration, to clarify it, Settembre creates what Tracy calls “great food wine.” Because they are vegetarians, Blake and Tracy prefer to pair their wines with spices, allowing them to shift a recipe towards a particular wine by adjusting the spices they add. Their website features recipes and a pairing portfolio that you can sort by wine type, such as the tempting suggestion of goat cheese and walnuts paired with a glass of their silky 2009 Syrah.
Visit: Settembre Cellars is located at 1501 Lee Hill Road, Suite 16, in Boulder; 303-532-1892.
(Read about more Colorado wineries in 5280‘s Behind the Vines series)