Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fabulous Barnett Vineyards wine tasting

Bill Tieleman and David Tate, winemaker - Barnett Vineyards

I was fortunate to attend a private wine tasting of fabulous white and red wines from Barnett Vineyards in Napa Valley's Spring Mount District and to meet winemaker David Tate, who is originally from BC.

The March 1 tasting showcased some of Barnett's premium red wines, including the exclusive 2006 Rattlesnake Hill cabernet sauvignon, which retails for US $120 and the 2006 Cyrus Ryan cabernet sauvignon, which sells for $90 US.

The Rattlesnake Hill is a beautiful, intense and tightly-wound wine from a small rocky knoll on Spring Mountain. It shows deep cassis, violet and chocolate backed by blackberry fruit.

The Cyrus Ryan is a sharp contrast, as it comes from the Napa Valley floor - not Spring Mountain - near the Silverado Trail. Much more open now than the Rattlesnake Hill, it shows black cherry, currant and raspberry on the nose.

Both beautiful wines and both will easily age for 10 years without a doubt.

David - who calls Nanaimo "home" - has a remarkable winemaking pedigree, especially for a young guy. He's was assistant winemaker at the legendary Ridge Vineyards for five years until joining Barnett in 2007.

Before that he worked in Australia with J&J Hahn, a premium winemaker in the Barossa Valley, and St. Hallett's. David also spent time in Provence, France at Domaine Richeaume.

While the premium wines show what can be done with great grapes in the hands of a talented winemaker, the other wines in the lineup are also very impressive.

The flagship Barnett wine, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, has garnered a 91 point rating from the Wine Spectator and is a great wine.

It retails for Cdn $88 and is available in BC Liquor Stores and some private outlets.Barnett wines can also be special ordered through agents New World Wines, who helped bring David and his wines to Vancouver. Thanks to New World Wines' Peter and Elizabeth Crews, who attended the event.

Other wines tasted included a powerful 2007 Merlot from Spring Mountain District that showed intense black cherry and pomegranate fruit. It retails for $70.

An unusual approach to the 2007 Tina Marie Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley pays off. The wine was partly aged "sur lees" and the results are good - a black raspberry, cherry and violet nose. It retails for $60. Last year's vintage earned a 91 point rating from the Wine Spectator.

Barnett also produces a very big white, the 2007 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay from Sonoma-Carneros. It is a classic California chard with lots of fruit and honeysuckle, jasmine, spice and peach notes. It retails for Cdn $50 and was rated 90 points by the Wine Spectator.

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