Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bartier Brothers expands its portfolio

Photo: Michael Bartier at the start of a brilliant career

The first wines released by Bartier Brothers were The Cowboy, a white, and The Goal, a red. Michael and Don Bartier, who were born in Kelowna, recall Okanagan history with those labels. The Cowboy was inspired by the rodeo career of the late Kenny MacLean of Okanagan Falls, the World Rodeo Champion in 1962. The Goal recalls the 1955 World Hockey champions, the Penticton Vees.

The brothers now have begun to make their own Okanagan history with this winery. Launched initially under the Okanagan Crush Pad umbrella, Bartier Brothers is positioned to puts its own roots down on a vineyard on Black Sage Road. “The wines are the culmination of my career, the sum of everything I have learned,” Michael says.

The brothers are sons of an accountant. Don took up that profession in Calgary in 1978, where he pursued an oil industry career. Influenced by Michael’s passion, he planted the Lone Pine Vineyard, a small block of Gewürztraminer in Summerland, several years before the brothers collaborated on their initial vintage in 2010.

Michael, who was born in 1967, has a 1990 degree in recreational administration at the University of Victoria. “I wasn’t interested in the recreational field,” he admitted later. “By the time I realized that, I was too far along in my degree to stop those studies.” On graduation, he spent five years selling wine.

Returned to the Okanagan in 1995, he briefly considered becoming a rock climbing guide until taking a job at Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards (now See Ya Later Ranch). He was quickly promoted to assistant winemaker. (The photograph at the head of this post was taken during his Hawthorne Mountain days.) He began taking winemaking courses and, in 1998, did a vintage at the Thomas Hardy Winery in Australia. Since 2002, he has honed his craft at Stag’s Hollow, Township 7, Road 13 and finally, at Okanagan Crush Pad with multiple client wineries.

By the 2012 vintage, Bartier Brothers was producing more than 2,000 cases, with most of the fruit from Cerqueira Vineyard, which the brothers have under contract. This six-hectare (15-acre) Black Sage Road vineyard with unique mineral content, is planted with Sémillon, Chardonnay, Syrah and the Bordeaux varietals, giving Michael many options to display what he has learned in 20 years.

Here are notes on the wines.

Bartier Bros. Sémillon 2012 Cerqueira Vineyard ($19.90 for 144 cases). The wine begins with aromas of fresh apple slices. On the palate, there are flavours of apple and melon and herbs. It has a good backbone of minerals and bright acidity to give the wine a crisp finish. 90.

Bartier Bros. Gewürztraminer 2012 Lone Pine Vineyard ($18.90 for 144 cases). The complex of this wine has been augmented with the addition of 11% Sémillon in the blend. The wine begins with a fruity aroma – more floral than spicy. There are flavours of lychee and a hint of residual sweetness, nicely balanced with acidity to create a refreshing finish. 90.

Bartier Bros. Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 Cerqueira Vineyard ($19.90 for 215 cases). The wine begins with a lovely aroma of citrus and apple. The aromas are echoed on the palate along with lime and peach. The rich texture was promoted by leaving the wine on lees, without stirring, for five months. 89.

Bartier Bros. Merlot 2011 Cerqueira Vineyard ($26.90 for 350 cases). It was supposed to be a cool vintage in 2011 which may why this Black Sage Road still had Merlot hanging in mid-October. The grapes ripened well for the alcohol of this wine is 14.7%. There is also 14% Cabernet Franc in the blend. The texture is so generous that there is no heat on the finish. Because the wine is under screw cap, I would recommend decanting it, letting the aromas open up with breathing. The wine has flavours of blackberry, cherries and vanilla. The firm ripe tannins mean the wine has structure to age. 89-91.

Bartier Bros. Syrah 2011 Cerqueira Vineyard ($26.90 for 325 cases). This is 87% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Franc. There is a brooding, earthy personality to this wine that implies a touch of Rhone. There are flavours of prune and peppery chocolate on the rich palate. 90.

Bartier Bros. The Goal 2011 Cerqueira Vineyard ($29.90 for 345 cases). This is 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. The wine begins with cherry and plum aromas. The palate is generous, with flavours of black cherry, black currant and sage. The firm tannins suggest this is a good candidate for cellaring. Decant it if you are impatient. 90.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this update on Michael Bartier and his wines with your readers John.