Booze

The First Rule of Flight Club: Do Talk About Natural Wine

Get an in-person wine education and a good time at this natural-wine-focused locale.
Get an in-person wine education and a good time at this natural-wine-focused locale. Noble Riot
Noble Riot isn’t your average wine bar. You won’t find the same standard list of Pinots and Chardonnays there. Instead, the wine bar at 1336 27th Street in RiNo offers a bountiful curation of carefully selected natural wines. These are the bottles splashed across the pages of national food magazines and showing up on countless Instagram feeds, like skin-contact “orange” wines and trendy-but-traditional pétillant naturel bubbles (aka Pét-Nats). While natural-wine bars have already established a foothold in New York City and along the East Coast, Noble Riot is bringing way more than just vino to Denver. It offers pomp-free accessibility to wine classes as part of its passionate Flight Club community.

Husband and wife Scott and Nicole Mattson, along with business partner Troy Bowen, opened Noble Riot in April 2019 next door to their jazz and supper club, Nocturne. Scott and Troy bonded over what they call “honest” wines while working together at wine-and-spirits store Mondo Vino, and the two complement each other in style: Troy brings a zeal for curating modern, wild wines, while Scott offers the virtuosity of a classicist.

Sharing this obsession and expertise with guests has been ingrained in Noble Riot’s business model from the beginning. Its Flight Club has been a cornerstone of that mission, allowing people of all backgrounds to find an approachable environment to connect around the world of oenology (the study of wine and winemaking).

click to enlarge Both indoor and outdoor alleyway seating is available. - ASHLEE REDGER
Both indoor and outdoor alleyway seating is available.
Ashlee Redger
Being a member comes with perks including discounts on food and wine, early ticket access to premium events, members-only wine tastings and access to curated excursions. One such trip in the works is a visit to the French island of Corsica, where travelers will have the opportunity to visit vineyards, meet winemakers and experience the region’s culinary offerings. For $69 a month, this “swell group of fellow wine nerds” also gets free weekly access to Noble Riot’s signature Wine School.


While classes were virtual during COVID restrictions, Noble Riot is once again scheduling workshops in-person in its airy, book-lined space. On any given week, you can find classes on the Wine School docket that are taught by Scott or another expert on staff, or a visiting winemaker. They range from Wine 101, where participants gain an understanding of the winemaking process as well as discerning characteristics like sweet versus dry, acidity, body and tannins in their glass; to classes like Piedmont 301, which includes a lesson on the blend of clay, chalk and sand in the soil of the Barolo wine region of Italy.

If you want to impress your friends, attend one of the Sabrage University classes and learn to dramatically saber open a bottle of sparkling wine properly. Noble Riot even offers more “specialized” education, like its 2021 Valentine’s Day event: a virtual class hosted by a dominatrix. From her dungeon, Mistress Nicci taught her students to pair wines with the disciplines of BDSM. No matter the level, wine lovers of all stripes can find something to learn at Wine School.

There is no shortage of knowledge to share from Scott, who leads the education arm of Noble Riot. “In the modern wine world, by law, you can add up to 160-some-odd ingredients into a wine without having to put it on the label,” he explains. “It becomes, at times, this Frankenstein abomination.” Compared to the highly manipulated bottles that have been altered with additives, the Noble Riot team preaches the gospel of wine produced as an agricultural product rather than an industrial commodity.

What makes these wines honest, or “analog,” as Scott lovingly refers to them? “It’s like listening to a record versus a CD or Spotify,” he explains. “There’s a different amount of depth and realism to analog wines.”

To Scott, analog wines have the harmonies of their terroir (the specific climate, time and environment in which the grapes were grown) and their growers’ expertise evident in the glass as opposed to the sterile consistency of modern big-name wines. As he explains, “The idea of selling a wine that wholly benefits a shareholder is nauseating to me — versus someone who actually farms the vines and is out there in the field doing the hard work and making their own wines. That excites me.”
click to enlarge The Noble Riot staff are experts at helping you find a wine you’ll love. - ASHLEE REDGER
The Noble Riot staff are experts at helping you find a wine you’ll love.
Ashlee Redger
Noble Riot’s devotion to the craft of transparent, low-manipulation wines has naturally led to Troy and Scott advocating for small producers, young upstarts and, notably, women winemakers. Glancing over the menu, you’ll see symbols denoting each woman-led bottle, representing just how much care Troy has given to spotlighting talented ladies in the field when curating the wine selection.

Whether you’re a fresh face to the scene of analogs or a Wine 101 alum, Scott Mattson has a few bottle recommendations to try. For a bubbly sip, Domain Saint Cyr ‘Pet Nat’ from natural wine’s homeland, the Beaujolais region of France. “It’s pink and sparkly and a touch off-dry,” he says. “It’s just absolutely delicious.” For red drinkers, Mattson suggests Lapierre's Morgon Cru Beaujolais. This Gamay Noir comes from a hallmark house of natural wines, Domain Marcel Lapierre, that remains rooted in the holistic teachings of winemaker/chemist Jules Chauvet. To round out the list, the Hermit Ram ‘Skin Contact’ from New Zealand is a “mind-expanding drug” when it comes to the sauvignon blanc you might think you know.

The menu at Noble Riot is constantly rotating, so make sure you ask the staff for their suggestions when visiting. Then book an à la carte Wine School class via the Noble Riot website to add excitement to one of your weeknights, or dive right into a Flight Club membership for a complete immersion into wine culture.

No matter your level, Scott Mattson’s advice for learning more is short and straightforward: “Keep an open mind. Drink a lot of stuff.”

Noble Riot is located at 1336 27th Street and is open Monday through Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m. For more information, visit nobleriot.com.
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Ashlee is a recipe developer and food geek with strong Midwestern roots. When she’s not cooking & baking, you can find her obsessing about podcasts, acting busy in coffee shops and searching for fancy cocktails around town.
Contact: Ashlee Redger