Friday, December 12, 2014

Bartier Brothers release a solid six-pack

 Photo: The Bartier Bros. Cerquiera Vineyard

Everyone who knows winemaker Michael Bartier knows that a droll sense of humour goes along with his talent.

The most recent release of wines from Bartier Brothers Winery comes with an entertaining updated narrative on how Michael and his brother, Don, found themselves in the wine business in the Okanagan.

They are natives of Kelowna who initially set off on different careers. Don went to Calgary, became an accountant and succeeded in the oil and gas business.

Michael (right) has a degree in recreational administration from the University of Victoria and returned to the Okanagan initially to be a rock climbing guide. Then in 1995, at the age of 28, he got a job as a cellar hand at Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards (now See Ya Later Ranch). His career was launched.

Here is where the media kit picks up the story. “Michael has often considered his own winery to make his style of wine, but lacked the business and financial acumen for this undertaking. Don has long been a wine enthusiast, and indeed about the best customer for each winery that Michael worked for.”

In addition to Hawthorne Mountain, Michael has made wine for Township 7 and Road 13. For several years, he has been the senior consultant at Okanagan Crushpad Winery.

With Michael’s advice, Don planted a 2.5-acre block of  Gewürztraminer in 2010 near Summerland, called the Lone Pine Vineyard..

“Michael watched this project closely, and helped a lot. Either Don passed Michael’s test, or Michael laid a trap that Don walked into,” the media kit says. “In either event, the stage was set for the partnership of the Bartier Bros. …”

The brothers released a few wines last year, adding more this year as they build to a full suite of wines.

Their major grape supply is from the 15-acre Cerqueira Vineyard on Black Sage Road. Planted between 1999 and 2009, it has four acres each of Merlot and Chardonnay, 2.6 acres of Syrah, 2.4 acres of Cabernet Franc, and two acres of Sémillon.

“The soils are a heavy, slightly sandy loam with limestone (calcium carbonate0 covered granite cobbles throughout a deep profile,” the media kits says. “With the rough surface of the calcium carbonate, vine roots seek out these rocks for the small amount of water to be found on this surface. It is controversial to say that these vines are ‘feeding’ off these minerals, but that’s exactly what we believe is happening and it shows in the wines.”

Here are notes on those wines. 

Bartier Brothers Semillon 2013 Cerqueira Vineyard ($19.90 for 640 cases).  The wine begins with aromas of grapefruit and apricot. On the palate, there are flavours of grapefruit on a bed of herbs, spice and minerality. The finish is crisp and dry. I would be inclined to cellar this wine for a few years and let time work its magic with this varietal. 90.

Bartier Brothers Gewürztraminer 2013 Lone Pine Vineyard ($18.90 for 211 cases). This wine begins with appealing aromas of apple, peach and ginger. On the palate, a touch of residual sugar lifts the peach and apricot. Well-balanced, the wine finishes dry. 90.

Bartier Brothers Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 Cerqueira Vineyard ($19.90). Here is a textbook example of an unoaked Chardonnay that delivers pure and focus fruit aromas and flavours. Look for citrus and apple with a crisp finish and a surprising amount of weight. The flavours linger. 90.

Bartier Brothers Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2013 Cerqueira Vineyard ($26.90 for 182 cases). Almost from the start of his winemaking career, Michael Bartier has shown a very sure hand with Chardonnay; his wines have won numerous awards. This is another example. It begins with intense aromas of citrus and cloves, leading to rich, layered flavours of grapefruit, ripe peaches, ripe apples. The hint of spice and cloves, likely reflecting time in barrel, gives the wine good length on the finish. 92.

Bartier Brothers Merlot 2011 Cerqueira Vineyard ($26.90 for 350 cases). The wine begins with intense aromas of black currants and black cherries. Ripe tannins give the wine a firm texture, with flavours of black cherry, blackberry, chocolate and spice. This is drinking well but will continue to improve in the cellar over the next three to five years. 91.

Bartier Brothers  Syrah 2011 Cerqueira Vineyard ($26.90 for 325 cases). This wine was tweaked with 13% Cabernet Franc. It smells and tastes like a classic Syrah, with white pepper, black cherry and vanilla in the aroma. The flavours are a blend of plums and peppery prosciutto. 92. 

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