Denver is known for many things. Altitude, Red Rocks Amphitheater. Things to do here when you’re dead. And fine winemaking.
Just shy of two years ago my love of monkeys and a perfectly light Riesling collided in a gorgeously silk screened bottle. It was and remains a favorite, ripe peach sweet and green apple tart with a tiny lime bite that sticks in the back of your throat long after a swallow.
And it’s made in downtown Denver at The Infinite Monkey Theorem (IMT) “urban winery." Seriously, in a converted Quonset hut behind an indistinct beige building that quietly sits at the intersection of “Warehouse” and “Biker Bar” near Santa Fe. This is no snuffy, huffy Napa winery and Ben Parsons doesn’t come across as your average winemaker, more mad scientist and marketing genius than grape-stomper. He both makes (the majority of his grapes come from Palisades on the western slope) and bottles the wine himself (follow him on Facebook and he'll invite you down to bottle and label whatever is ready to go.) Local hipster read, 5280 Magazine recently did an interesting piece on this interesting Brit in which they call him charismatic. I prefer “cheeky," a high compliment in my book.
Met him and had the chance to chat at two dinners he’s hosted; Parsons fully embraces the Denver food community, regularly hosting wine dinners at amazing and also local-owned eateries. Last year at a heart soaring rosé dinner we had the opportunity to barrel taste a cloudy Muscat; a year later at another dinner we ended the meal with the final fermented results. Currently available only at the hut on Santa Fe, a field trip is planned in the very near future to procure a bottle. Or six. The Black Muscat 2009 drinks like a super casual and friendly port, sweet and amber in color.
You can buy IMT wines right out of the downtown hut or locally in a growing list of liquor stores (check the web site). I also find it on more and more restaurant wines lists. Prices run $20-$50, but spots like Westminster Total Beverage (so worth the trip north) often shave a few bucks off that.
Just this week we emptied a bottle of the Albariño at home, alongside a sage and savory sweet potato bisque, topped with smoky bacon crumbles and salad dressed in feta, capers and lemon. The grapefruit and tart acidity of pear complemented it perfectly. Big bang for the buck (around $20ish) is The Blind Watchmaker (keeping cheeky sensibilities firmly in cheek, Parsons has christened two blends with monikers equally intriguing as the name of his winery, this blend and 100th Monkey - Google both.) This fantastical red goes with pretty much any meal. Even popcorn.
But my favorite IMT of the moment, hands down is the Syrah. Not being a super wine encyclopedia I call it, “Big and deep and plummy and happy to my soul.” And that’s all kinds of good.*
*If you're impressed by such things, Wine Spectator bestowed a rating of 87 on IMT’s Syrah, a tie for the highest mark ever bestowed on a local wine.