In the heart of beer town, a wine bar just opened.

Noble Riot — named after a legendary fungus that gives certain wines their sweetness —  hopes to bring a bit of funkiness of its own to Denver. The new spot opened its doors on Tuesday with a promise to uphold the “reverence and revelry” of wine but only in the name of having fun. This grape dedication isn’t exactly widespread in RiNo, especially when you can throw a rock and hit a brewery. But with a growing number of local wineries and a sea of educated drinkers flooding Larimer almost daily — the hidden wine bar may hit a nerve.


Photo by Brittany Werges.

Owners Nicole and Scott Mattson aren’t strangers to forging their own path either. As founders of the popular jazz club and restaurant, Nocturne (located just around the corner) — the husband and wife duo are undoubtedly risk-takers. This go-around though, instead of re-igniting a passion for jazz in the decidedly young and trendy area, their focus is now on another love of theirs.

“We believe wine is about pleasure and discovery. Pretension should never be a part of the conversation” said Scott, who’s one part jazz musician, one part sommelier.  “Guiding someone to that ‘ah-ha’ moment with wine fires us up big time. There are so many great flavors and sensations to be experienced, and Noble Riot was created to celebrate those experiences.”

For this new endeavor, they’ve struck up a partnership with Colorado Natural Wine Consortium founder Troy Bowen and veteran wine professional Joel Kampfe. As a result, the wine list is painstakingly curated. The team even went on a “research mission” to California last August in search of small producers. Those hand selected makers, along with a spattering of natural wines, will be exclusive to the RiNo bar. Their picks are similar to Nocturne’s nightly music — where singularity, energy and personality are key.

“Noble Riot is pouring wines created by hardworking farmers and winemakers from all over the world that create wines of great individuality and integrity. Every glass of wine we pour tells a story,” said Bowen.

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Broken down into a monthly zine, the wine list spans six pages. Many wines are by the glass, but all come by the bottle and prices range from $9 to $630 — although the average cost is much more moderate. A handful of cocktails make the menu and a select list of well priced, secret “Blindsider” wines come wrapped in paper so you can take a guess at what’s on the label. Thankfully there is also a robust and equally delicious list of snacks to fuel your drinking. There’s a Sexy Bread Service ($6) that lives up to its name with compound butter, honey and a dusting of powdered duck fat on a warm baguette. It goes great with a selection of rich cheeses and a damn good housemade ricotta. For adventurous carnivores, the pâtés, rillettes, salami and an elk tartare will satisfy. You can mix and match some of these selections to make a plate that ranges between $15 for three and $25 for seven.  

Beyond their current selection, Noble Riot is already planning to expand beyond the space they inherited from greenlight LAB — the former bar that housed the spot. Once they get their expanded liquor license, the new bar plans to launch a “Flight Club” — an educational component that offers a series of wine classes and experiences for beginners and experts alike. This summer, they also hope to open a patio in the alley where patrons can enjoy the area’s defining street art and its steady flow of onlookers.

The small but cozy spot will likely act as an overflow for Nocturne on its more busy nights, so seating could become limited. Luckily, if you’re craving a glass and intimate conversation they also happen to take reservations. If RiNo’s taste for wine continues to grow, you may need one.

Noble Riot is located at 1336 27th Street, Denver and is open from 4 p.m. – midnight on Tuesday – Thursday and 2 p.m. – 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.