Barrister Winery has a large portfolio of beautiful wines, all of which have the signature style of a soft mouthfeel and gentle tannins. Contributing to this style is one of the most fascinating wine stories we have heard this year – the wines are “train settled.”
What does that mean? Barrister winemaker and owner Greg Lipsker explains: “Barrister’s barrel room, where the wines age anywhere from 1.5 to four years, is located under the train trestle for the BNSF Railroad. Every time a train passes overhead, the barrels are gently vibrated, helping the solids settle out very efficiently.
“Most wineries rack their wines three times while aging in the barrel. Because of this gentle train vibration, Barrister wines are only racked once. More than 25,000 trains a year pass overhead. By the time a Barrister Cabernet Sauvignon is ready to be bottled, the wine has been ‘gently shaken, not stirred’ more than 70,000 times. We are the only winery in Washington state to have train-settled wine.”
Thousands of people participated in the annual celebration of the excellent juice made in this state — at the Grand Tasting, educational seminars, lunches on local farms, and at restaurants, wineries, hotels and retailers that offered special deals and promotions throughout the month.
But we hope that people did more than taste the fine wine of Washington. We hope they appreciated it, and the hard work by people in our state’s wine industry – from farmers to vineyard managers to those in the production facilities, winemakers, distributors, marketing specialists, tasting room staff and more.
In particular, we applaud the workers in the vineyard who toil over the grapes and the terroir, the winemakers who balance creativity and science in every barrel and bottle, and their families who support this extreme effort.
We definitely appreciated every taste that was poured for us at the Grand Tasting.
And there were some delicious bites too. Our favorite was these amazing Salted Caramel Fudge Brownies from Blazing Bagels. (Their bagels were mouth-watering too, of course!)
We also enjoyed seafood from Anthony’s Pier 66, Ivar’s, Ray’s Boathouse and The Crab Pot. We munched on a lot of crab cakes this year!
Here are some of our favorite wines, in alphabetical order:
Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Quarry Butte Red Bordeaux Blend ($26)
Ambassador Wines of Washington 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($38)
Andrew Will 2013 Champoux Vineyard Red Blend ($74)
Avennia 2015 Oliane Sauvignon Blanc ($28)
Barrage Cellars 2012 “Cease and Desist” Cabernet Franc ($35)
Barrister Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc ($31), pictured left with Petit Verdot & Barrister’s Block
Bartholomew Winery 2014 Tannat ($32)
Betz Family Winery 2013 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon ($75)
Boudreaux Cellars 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($115); winemaker Rob Newsom and his daughter Keely are pictured below
Canvasback 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($40)
Cooper Wine Company 2014 L’inizio Bordeaux Blend, Red Mountain ($55)
One of our favorite wines is Cabernet Franc, which is one of the main varieties in Bordeaux blends.
Many people don’t realize that Cab Franc is one of the genetic parents to Cabernet Sauvignon; the other is Sauvignon Blanc. In addition to Washington state, you can find it planted in California and in the Bordeaux and Loire regions in France.
Cab Franc is typically used as a blending wine to add more complexity to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon or more structure to the softer Merlot. But Cab Franc is also created as a single-varietal wine; in other words, a stand-alone wine.
When blended, it adds both a subtly and an “oomph” to Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties. But on its own, quite simply, Cabernet Franc is amazing.
Cab Franc is known for its complex aromas of cherry and berry, with notes of herbs, spices, chocolate, cedar, and even violets. Frequently wine enthusiasts describe the nose as a peppery perfume.
The hot climate in Walla Walla and Yakima Valley is perfectly suited to ripen the Cab Franc fruit. Wineries in Lake Chelan have also produced some fine vintages.
We’ve enjoyed many excellent stand-alone Washington state Cab Francs over the years, including a beautiful Matthews Estate 2003 Conner Lee Cab Franc, an elegant 2004 from Corliss Estates, a robust 2012 Outcast from Barrage Cellars, and a rich 2012 Cooper Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Franc.
Here are some other Washington state wineries that, in our opinion, produce the Cab Franc grape as a shining single-varietal wine.
Congratulations to Greg Lipsker, co-owner of Barrister Winery in Spokane, who was chosen as the winemaker to create the blend for 2013 Legends of Washington Wine Gala, an annual fundraising program in support of the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Centerin Prosser.
Legends honors those whose contributions to the community and the wine industry are of historical and lasting significance.
The news was announced on May 30, but I was traveling and unable to congratulate Greg and Barrister’s Winery until now.
Barrister is known for limited production red wines. Our favorite, consistent over the years, has been the stellar Barrister Cabernet Franc. As we noted at Taste Washington last year, the 09 Barrister Cab Franc was a standout.
Don’t just take our word for it! Barrister’s Cab Franc has won awards at the L.A. World of Wines Competition, the Northwest Wine Summit, and the Tri-Cities Wine Festival.
Although we don’t get to Spokane often, we make a point to stop by Barrister’s table at numerous Washington wine events throughout the year. If we’re lucky, Greg and Barrister Winery co-owner Michael White will be pouring and have time for a chat.
The fruit for the multi-vintage 2013 Legends blend was sourced by Greg from seven different vineyards:
38% Merlot from Red Mountain, Walla Walla Valley, Wahluke Slope, and Columbia Valley
33% Syrah from Wahluke Slope and Columbia Valley
20% Cabernet Franc from Yakima Valley and Columbia Valley
9% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain and Columbia Valley
The Legends 2013 blend will be released on August 9 at the 2013 Legends of Washington Wine Gala.
Greg is the seventh winemaker to make an exclusive blend to commemorate an annual inductee into the Washington Wine Hall of Fame.