While Colorado is famous for its craft beer, the state’s wine industry continues to grow with vineyards dotting a special section of the western slope while metro-area wineries convert those grapes into fine potables. One of those wineries is Avanti Wines of Littleton.
Avanti Wines actually started out as a cigar shop and is still their primary business. When new owner Jim “Griff” Griffin bought the shop several years ago, he thought a good glass of vino would pair perfectly with a premium cigar. Wanting to support Colorado’s economy, he sold only Colorado wines. It didn’t take long for him to realize that Colorado wines were on the verge of market prominence so he decided to make his own. Griffin named the winery after his yellow lab who passed away in 2009 and is still featured on the bottle labels.
Wanting to expand my knowledge of Colorado enology, I went to Avanti for a sampling of their wines. The retail outlet in Littleton featured three whites and eight reds. The whites included a Chardonnay and a white table blend with five varietals. The reds included a syrah port, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon along with several red blends. Their bestselling wine was a red blend called 3 Amigos named for Griffin’s dogs.
My tasting was overseen by shop manager Bob. Bob told me Avanti gets their grapes from several vineyards in Palisades, CO, and Lodi, CA. Not being tied to one vineyard allows Avanti to find the best grapes for use in their wines. He said they also use natural corks in all bottles and then seal the bottles in black wax, which keeps the wine more stable until opened. The wines were made, aged and bottled in a warehouse in Jefferson County.
My tasting opened with 2004 Merlot, which was cherry and mild. Then we moved on to the Cabernet, which was much bolder than the Merlot with more intense berry flavors. Then it was time for the blends. Bob started with the 3 Amigos, Avanti’s most popular wine. The flavor was quite unexpected – sweet, but not syrupy, flavorful, but not overwhelming. I can see why people enjoy this wine. The taste had a bit of everything.
However, Bob saved his favorite for last. The Mystique red blend was even more flavorful than the 3 Amigos, however, it was also noticeably higher in alcohol. That was due to the addition of port into the process giving it a rich, robust flavor. Bob said that when they first made this wine, Griffin accidently put a little too much port into the blend and at one point considered not selling it. He put the wine up for sale anyway and the first 50 cases sold out in three months. Griffin had a hit on his hands. For those adventurous in their wine choices and wanting a bold rich flavor, get your hands on this wine.
The Avanti Wines tasting room, called Gars and Grapes, is located at 9046 West Bowles Avenue in Littleton, Tastings are Thursday through Sunday during business hours. The store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Avanti is closed on Mondays. Avanti also exhibits Saturdays at the Southwest Plaza Farmer’s Market and on Sundays at the South Pearl Street Farmer’s Market from June through October. They also hold cigar and wine events on Sundays. Like Avanti on Facebook to learn more about their special food and wine pairing events.