Noble Riot is Denver’s new wine bar paradigm
by Monica Parpal Stockbridge
Back when Troy Bowen and Scott Mattson were working at Denver’s Mondo Vino wine shop around 2012, they had a pretty good thing going. “We loved the wines we were selling and we loved our guests,” Bowen recounts. There was just one small gap. “We’d talk about the wines, have passionate conversations, and send them out to the world. There was no chance to engage with people while they were drinking the wines.”
That revelation planted the seed for what would blossom into Noble Riot, Denver’s newest and most dynamic wine bar, which Bowen and Mattson opened with Nicole Mattson (Scott’s wife) and Joel Kampfe in April of this year. Tucked into a vibrant alley in the heart of River North, this bright, 40-seat wine bar is one part hip hangout, one part welcoming refuge. “It’s a weird combination,” Bowen says. “It’s very much of the neighborhood. It’s fun, funky, and connected and tied to what RiNo was and what it’s become.”
We’d argue that it’s weird in the best way. Enter through the street art-soaked alleyway to the intimate space, where floor-to-ceiling windows welcome plenty of late afternoon light reflected by blond wood accents and decorative wine bottles. It’s cozy — though Noble Riot intends to expand the space to about three times its current size later this year.
For now, guests can take a seat at the bar, banquettes or community table, and flip open the menu — or, rather, the zine. The slim black-and-white booklet lists musings, a manifesto, and the available wines, all of them limited-production, biodynamic or otherwise low-intervention vino by the glass and by the bottle.
And yet, the best experience will be when you put down that menu. You aren’t likely co find your go-to Sauv Blanc here, anyway, and the wines on hand are constantly changing. At Noble Riot, it’s best instead to start a conversation, taste a flight or two, and go on a winetasting adventure. “We’re engendering this spirit of fascination and revelation and community and mayhem and a little bit of fun,” Bowen says. ‘Those things happen a lot better when you’re looking up versus looking down.”
Which is how we arrive back to that early revelation. Because while there’s no doubt that Bowen and his team are the geekiest of wine geeks, the goal at Noble Riot is about more than just wine; it’s about creating an experience. It’s about interaction at the community table, adventuring into the unknown through sips and gulps and garnering a new perspective as you go. It’s about creating a moment in time, and — above all — having fun. “Life is too short to drink a bad wine,” Bowen says. “We’re gonna find out what it is you love, and we’re going to go for it.”
Want a taste of what Noble Riot is serving this summer? Below, Bowen shares some of his favorite wines of the moment
Martha Stoumen Post-Flirtation White
Martha is a badass winemaker who traveled to France, Germany, New Zealand and Sicily then back home to Sonoma County seeking the best winemakers she could find. Her wines are expressive, sexy and easy to drink. This Is a blend of grapes normally found In southern France, but on the palate it’s all California sunshine and pleasure.
Gut Oggau Theodora
This Austrian producer makes some very fun unfiltered wines without additives or chemicals. The wines are named after family members, who are artistically represented on the labels. This white wine — named after one of the family’s daughters — is a bright and perky blend of Gruner Veltliner and Welschriesling with a pretty undercurrent of savory mystique.
Vina Gonzales Bastias Naranjo
“This ls an enchanting orange wine — which is white wine made like a red wine by letting the skins have contact with the juice — that has something for everyone. With a floral jasmine nose and clean, dry apricot and white tea notes on the palate, this Is one of our very best sellers from a biodynamic producer who uses no sulfur or machines!”