Verso Cellars :: Winter Park,Colorado

After a day on the ski slopes or hiking trails, what better way to relax in the Rocky Mountains than with a glass of Colorado Cabernet.

On the second level of a red-brick retail and restaurant center in the town of Winter Park, a mile north of the Colorado ski resort with the same name, a tiny wine tasting room lies tucked between a real estate office and the back stairs.

Verso Cellars offers samplings of a variety of Colorado wines, but the centerpiece is its own eponymous 2003 Cabernet. The first release from Linda Cummings and Paul Phillip’s East Orchard Mesa vineyard in Western Colorado is a rich young Cab with fruity hints from the surrounding orchards, including cherry, blackberry and currant.

The 2003 Cab starts fruity and ends with a slightly smoky aftertaste. It’s lovely with hard cheeses, olives, beef, even guacamole, but it really shines with a bit of dark chocolate, which the tasting room conveniently serves in bite-sized wine bottle shapes. The 2003 is a complex, tasty wine now and will evolve with proper cellaring.

Verso Cellars produces only 100 percent Cabernet wines, blending six kinds of Cab grapes to make their wines, which have seen two bottlings thus far.

Verso followed the award-winning 2003 Cab with its commendable 2004 vintage. The 2004 isn’t as complex as the 2003, but continues to combine fruitiness with smoky, earthy flavors that will deepen with age.

The tasting room, remodeled late last year after an unfortunate water line break, offers comfortable seating along large glass windows, muted jewel tone walls and shelves full of wine-related gift items. A small selection of appetizers is available. Thursday night’s two-for-one Ladies’ Night has become a popular mid-week even for many locals and tourists alike. A large back room can accommodate more than a dozen people for private catered dinners, parties or group tastings.

When Paul and his wife Linda decided to turn their passion into profession, they chose the sunny and dry Orchard Valley of Western Colorado, where warm days and cool nights are perfect for picky Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

That the land lies in the shadows of the Book Cliffs worked perfectly with the couple’s other passion — books. Verso is the term used to describe a left-hand page of an open book or manuscript. More specifically, the word “verso? is used to describe the page opposite a book’s title page, which contains the information needed for librarians to assign a number and shelve the book properly.

The vineyard’s web site (www.VersoCellars.com) even offers some literary pairings for its wines. “Nothing compliments finely crafted words better than a finely crafted wine,? Cummings says. The current book offerings reflect the couple’s interest in the natural world, travel and classics. Their recommendations run from Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth? or Edward Abbey’s “The Monkey Wrench Gang? to Tom Robbins’ hilarious “Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates.?

The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon can be purchased for $30 per bottle or $250 per case. The 2004 can be had for $25 per bottle or $225 per case.

Verso’s Cabernets are available online for delivery to states that allow interstate shipments of alcoholic beverages. For shipments outside of the state of Colorado, contact Verso directly to review any restrictions. Paul Phillips can be reached to talk about shipping limitations, wine preferences and book recommendations by calling 303.587.9740 or emailing Wine@VersoCellars.com. For more information, go to the vineyard’s web site at www.VersoCellars.com.

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