Motif Jazz Cafe originally found a home in Old Colorado City, Colorado, but made the conscious business decision to close for almost a year in search of a new location. They chose to reopen in February at Country Club Corners in the same restaurant and shopping center as Duca’s Neapolitan Pizza. With a fresh start at 182 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd. they began to integrate specialty wine and spirits tastings now held every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

On September 12, Motif Jazz Cafe held their second event, “An Introduction to French Wines” just a few weeks after their initial class with the founder of Broker’s Gin. General manager, Rob Provost, alongside beverage director, Jean-Paul Devarenne, and Republic National Distributing Company representative, Donovan Kennedy, talk guests through a tasting that covers five of the main French regions: Champagne, Loire, Burgundy, Rhone and Bordeaux. They make it interactive as we receive encouragement to shout out three fruits and three earthy notes each wine elicits. They acknowledge that French wines have an intimidation factor and guide us as we experience the sight, smell and taste of eight varietals.

Image courtesy of Colorado Wine Events.

It’s customary to begin with bubbles and although we discuss the grapes predominantly grown in the Champagne region and the traditional method we taste a sparkling white. The JP. Chenet Brut is bright with a bready nose and hints of dried apricots.

We stay with white as we move forward onto a sauvignon blanc, Baron de Ladoucette “Les Deux Tourts” 2015, from the Loire Valley. Provost and Donovan speak to the terroir, the environmental conditions that exist in a specific area and how that influences the grapes. The wine is a golden-green color and yields good minerality and citrus.

Next we try a cabernet franc, Marc Bredif Chinon 2015, a ruby red wine that expresses floral characteristics and dark cherries . Kennedy illustrates how you can gauge the hue of the wine best when you hold it over a white napkin or piece of paper.

We go back to the lighter side with a Louis Jadot Macon-Villages 2015 from Burgundy, France, which is full of ripe white fruit. It’s in opposition with the buttery and oaky domestic chardonnays and offers a clean, crisp finish.

Guests receive sharable charcuterie plates and bowls of buttered rosemary cashews to compliment the tasting.

The wine begins to flow and it’s clear guests are enjoying the process. Two glasses arrive in front of us a rose, 2015 Vidal-Fleury Cotes du Rhone rose and a 2014 pinot noir Bourgogne from Louis Jadot.  They suggest that we pinch our nose and take a sip to fully register how powerful and contributory our sense of smell is when we taste.

The next wine takes us to Rhone, France, once more with the Delas Ventoux 2014, we enjoy the silky tannins and pick up peppery red currants. The last wine comes as a pleasant surprise, Chateau Lhorens Bordeaux, packaged in a three liter, handsome wooden box. It’s party time now. A delightful blend of 50 percent merlot, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc and 10 percent malbec.

“Excellent tannic structure, good fruit and balance,” says Chris West, founder of Colorado Wine Events. “A classic, friendly Bordeaux for the everyday table.”

We’re a big fan of the way Motif Jazz Cafe chose to orchestrate the event and find it to be very informative with generous amounts of wine and conversation.

“I liked the overall format in that they were educating and letting people discover their own palate through feedback and participation,” says West.

The first and last three wines we sample are currently available on the wine list at Motif and are all available to purchase through their partnership with nearby Broadmoor Wine & Spirits. To keep the tastings manageable they plan to cap the number of guests at 50 people and encourage reservations with a discounted price of $25 versus $35 at the door. Patrons can begin to funnel in at 5:30 p.m. with the tastings to begin at 6:00 p.m. and conclude by 8:00 p.m.

“We’re trying to scale each event so it’s a good value and we hope people came away encouraged to try a wine or a grape from France maybe they haven’t tried before,” says Provost. “Motif Jazz Cafe is widely known for the live music but I want to get Motif recognized as a place for people to have a great glass or bottle of wine and great food.”

Motif is normally open Thursday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. until midnight and they host a Sunday jazz brunch from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. with live music and bottomless mimosas. Jazz  performances run on Thursday from 7:00 p.m. through 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Motif Jazz Cafe’s upcoming events are a “Global Whisky/Scotch Tasting” on Tuesday, September 26 and “Around the World in 3 Grape Varietals” on Tuesday, October 10.

“We have gotten extremely positive responses,” says Devarenne. “I like to experiment and we want to introduce the locals to something different. They learn something new and that’s the ultimate goal.”