Winter Park / Wine: ‘When you’re drinking it, you’re the expert’ |

Winter Park / Wine: ‘When you’re drinking it, you’re the expert’

by Cyndi McCoy
Winter Park, Colorado

Accolades continue for Verso Wine Cellar.

The Winter Park tasting room’s cabernets have received four competition medals so far and its new arrival has just as much promise. Special deals are available through November.

The company, passionately run by Linda Cumming and new manager Bryan Miller, has offered four signature vintages since it opened its doors in December 2005. The 2006 vintage just arrived this month and is said to be the mellowest and fruitiest of the line, “while still retaining the walnut shell-like tannins at the finish,” Cumming said. “I love how it is coming along.”

The elegant wines are simply titled, Verso Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon, along with the year of harvest.

“It doesn’t need a fancy name,” said Cumming who grew all the grapes at her own vineyard in Palisade. “It’s just a good wine.”

The Verso name comes from her 28 years working with the Denver Public Library. Verso, she explained, is Latin for reverse and a verso is the reverse side of a book’s title page. Like her wine labels, the verso tells the reader everything they need to know about the work.

She allowed her 2001 and 2002 grapes to fall to the ground at Verso Cellars East Orchard Mesa vineyard. The act of patience and wisdom, along with “an element of beginner’s luck,” nurtured the soil and aided in what she believes is part of the success of the 2003.

The wine has a 13.9-percent alcohol content with what she describes as a “plush, rich, concentrated young Cabernet with layers of dark cherry, blackberry and currant that are vibrant and harmonious, blending with hints of nutmeg, clove and cinnamon spice notes.” It earned her a gold medal and only a few bottles remain of the 2,300 cases made.

Walnut and cherry trees grew alongside her 14-acre vineyard and Cumming believes some of their flavors have been incorporated into her grapes. The 2004 cabernet has “firm walnut shell tannins that make it long on the palate.”

It won a bronze medal and has “a good balance between dark fruits and old-barrel wood aromas,” 13.7-percent alcohol content and “ripe blackberry and dark cherry layers combined with the tobacco and earth flavors … .”

Her 2005 wine, with “good balance, dark fruits and big, smooth finish” won two bronze medals. The first came from a Napa Valley competition called “Wines Women Like;” the second was recently awarded from the Colorado State Fair. The vintage aged six more months in French oak barrels than the 2003 or 2004 wines, gaining complexity and adding a hint of smoke and leather, Cumming said. Alcohol content is 14.1 percent.

The tasting room at Cooper Creek Square is open to hosting parties and has several wine-related gift items, including Reidel glassware, said to be one of the finest wine glasses in the world because of the way they are shaped.

Wines, including several other Colorado wines (popular ones are Graystone Port II and Whitewater Zero Below ice wine), are available by the glass, three-pack or case. New tastes are free.

Cumming said Miller “is a real natural in the wine business.” He also serves as co-manager of sales and came up with the idea of offering “wine flights.” The flight specials offer a vertical tasting of several wines in a string of consecutive years.

Patrons may try three or four Verso cabernets, with or without the Port II, as well as a few white wine trios.

“Every tasting we do is an education in itself,” Cumming said. “When you’re drinking it, you’re the expert.”

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