Nestled in the charming town of Fort Collins lies a boutique gourmet wine shop called The Cellar. I went to their popular wine tasting event they host every Saturday and, needless to say, I was not disappointed.
Fort Collins is a town of microbreweries, so it is not known for wine. This charming boutique wine cellar opened in August 2011, and is stocked with over 500 unique wines from all areas of the world like France, South Africa, Argentina and California. I had the pleasure of meeting with the owners, Mark and Wendy, who told me the idea behind The Cellar was simply Mark’s love for wine.
This was my first wine tasting and as a white wine drinker, I have to admit I was a little bit nervous to go to a wine tasting. I have little wine knowledge other than it’s made from grapes and I like to drink it, and I have never been a red wine drinker.
When I first walked in and introduced myself to Mark and Wendy, they as well as their staff were more than welcoming, offering to show me around the store and give me as much information and help as I needed. When you visit this gourmet wine shop, you will immediately feel comfortable and welcome.
The reason The Cellar calls themselves a boutique wine shop is because every bottle of wine they purchase from their distributors has a score of 86 or higher on a scale of 100. This means that the wine spectators, advocates and enthusiasts have rated these as some of the best bottles of wine in the world. The Cellar is unique: they only buy wines that are produced in 1,000 cases or less a year, making it your one-stop shop for the finest wines in Northern Colorado.
The store itself gives you the feel of an old world Italian wine shop mixed with a new world boutique from Napa Valley, with handmade wine shelves, specifically made for The Cellar by their staff, and custom bar with pergola and vines to give it the old world Italian feel. With brick walls and custom flooring, the class and uniqueness makes it the perfect setting for a Saturday afternoon wine tasting.
To start the wine tasting, you are given a card with the six wines they have selected for the tasting, and the suggested drinking order for those six wines. Although you are only allowed to try four of them, I followed the order given and was not disappointed. The Cellar selected five wines, one of them white, four of them red, and a dark Cocoa Mole beer made by Fort Collins’ own New Belgium Brewery.
During the tasting, which was fairly crowded, guests mingled with each other and the staff wandered around the store helping customers and giving them personal recommendations of their favorites. Just looking at the different, interesting and fun labels is enough to keep me occupied for hours. The Cellar pairs their wines with cheese and crackers, dark and milk chocolate and assorted nuts, giving you a wonderful experience.
The first was a Saracco Moscato D’Asti, a sweet white wine where the aromas of the grapes are enhanced by a crisp, nice acidity and a light fizziness that makes this bottle of wine perfect to finish a meal with dessert, or on your patio “porch pounders,” as the staff called it, on a warm summer day.
The second wine I tasted was a Zinfandel made by Pedroncelli, located in the eastern hillsides of Dry Creek Valley. This wine is aged for 12 months in French and American Oak barrels. With fragrant flavors of raspberry and black pepper, it is sweet on the tip of the tongue and has a little kick on the back on throat.
For the third wine in the tasting, I tried a red blend, humorously called “Ball Buster”, which happened to be my favorite (it’s even red!). It brings a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that gives a good balanced taste in your mouth. The red and black fruits mix with dark plum, blackberries and a little cocoa powder and vanilla. The acidity and spice distinction leave you with an excellent blend for an inexpensive price.
Finally, there is the Punto Final Malbec. This wine, which is a deep ruby red color, has notes of blackberry, blueberry and cassis. It has a jam-like taste with a long finish that would be perfect with a nice steak or even just cheese.
If you are interested in knowing more about their wines, The Cellar just launched their Wine of the Month Club in January. It is the perfect choice for wine enthusiasts and a great place to find gifts for family and friends. The three different “levels” of their club offer their customers new and exciting selections that are hand-picked each month. The Silver and Gold Club levels are perfect for someone is who isn’t looking for a big commitment, and you’ll get one bottle of red or white every month at a value price.
The Platinum Club is perfect for wine enthusiasts who want wines that rate at 90 or above and are willing to invest $100 a month to have the best wines delivered from classic regions all over the world.
Mark, Wendy and their incredible staff are sure to pick the most incredible wines from around the world, giving you a one-of-a-kind experience that you can’t find anywhere else in Fort Collins. After the tasting was over, I purchased two bottles of their incredible wine, both of which came highly recommended by their staff.
I bought a red wine called The Crusher, which is rated at a 98, that was also reasonably priced. I was instructed to let the wine air before I drank it, which really enhanced the flavor and went perfectly with my home-cooked meal that night. I also purchased a bottle of white wine called La Yunta, a Torrontès wine, which was crisp, light and refreshing for the 82 degree high we had in Fort Collins on Saturday afternoon.
Needless to say, I will be returning for more wine tastings at The Cellar—if not for the wine, then for the extremely welcoming staff and casual yet elegant atmosphere.
If You Go
The Cellar is centrally located near the corner of Horsetooth and College in Fort Collins, just north of Palmer Flowers on Mitchell Drive. They open at 11 a.m. Monday- Saturday and close at 9 p.m. and on Sunday they open at 12:00 p.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Wine tastings are every Saturday from 4-7 (no kids please). Check out their website at www.thecellarfc.com or you can call (970) 223-1555