The first thing I noticed when I met Tracy and Blake Eliasson at their house in Boulder, Colorado was that the house looked like any other on the block. But that's where the similarities ended. Once I set foot in their house, I found myself in the most unlikely winery setting. The Eliasson's house has been converted into a licensed and bonded winery, with vines growing in the backyard and a converted garage that now serves as the tank and barrel room. The floor in the house is made entirely out of cork, and the dining room doubles as a laboratory as well as an eating space.
The next thing I noticed while walking through the Eliasson's house was how clean and meticulous everything looked. These two are very serious about making wine without being too serious. After all, Blake delivers wine to Boulder residents via bike when an order is placed. But when the Eliasson's make wine under the Settembre Cellars name, this isn't just a hobby. Blake's wine making style shows a masterful understanding of the wine making process from soil to bottle. His Doctorate and Electrical Engineering degrees provide an ideal background for the chemistry side of wine making.
Take for example the forthcoming Settembre Cellars Riesling, made with fruit from Colorado's Palisades wine growing region on the western slope. I wasn't sure what to think as they poured me a glass and told me they were going for an Alsatian style. Who's heard of such a thing in Colorado? Sure enough, that Riesling was not only Alsatian, but easily the best Riesling I've had from Colorado. If it were poured out of a brown bag you'd never guess it was a Colorado wine. So well made, with such expressive clean fruit with perfect acidity, I had to do a double take. The nose was lovely, the finish, perfect. I can still taste it now. Next up was the Syrah. The label said it was 14.2% ALC which was perfect for this Syrah. Nice balance allowing the purity of the fruit to come through while the impeccable balance showed up everywhere on my palate at once. I got some sweet rhubarb and blackberry on the nose, with just a hint of spice from the oak.
The last wine I tried was the Cabernet Sauvignon. At 13.9% ALC I was thinking the Cab would not only be Old World in style, but maybe a little thin. I was wrong. Blake was able to get extraction and a rich mouth feel out of the grapes without overpower alcohol. Again, the wine hit everywhere on my palate with what was now an apparent wine making style. Blake not only maintains a meticulous winery, but his wines all had ideal balance with purity of fruit. There was nothing about his wines not too like, and I'm still having a hard time believing they came from Colorado.
It's exciting to watch a couple who is so passionate and so focused on what they want to create, but to know they are just getting started. The Eliasson's have so much great wine ahead of them, and it'll be fun to watch their evolution from gargiste's in Boulder, Colorado to see where their path takes them. Tracy provided recipe pairing to go with the Settembre Cellars Riesling:
Grilled Polenta with Pears and Gorgonzola: 7 cups water 1 tablespoon salt 2 cups coarse cornmeal 2 Pears ½ Cup Gorgonzola
To make the polenta: boil the water in a deep pot, add the salt, then add the cornmeal slowly while stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir continuously until all of the water is absorbed and the polenta has become creamy, this takes about 25-30 minutes. Transfer the polenta to a casserole dish or bowl, cover, and cool for at least 1 hour. After cooling remove polenta from the cooling dish and slice the block into 1” thick slices brush with olive oil in preparation for the grill. Cut the pears in half and remove the seeds. Cook the pears (face down) along with the polenta on the grill. When the outside of the polenta is golden brown add Gorgonzola and cook for another 45 seconds. Serve outdoors with a glass of Settembre Cellars Colorado Riesling.