Photo: Winemaker Michael Bartier
The current releases from Bartier Bros. winery came once again with a good media package on a USB memory stick.
I have chosen to reproduce the biographies of the two brothers. Michael Bartier is well known because he has been in the Okanagan wine industry for about 25 years. His older brother, Don, is not as well known because most of his career has been in the Alberta oil patch.
Here is what the winery says about them.
Don Bartier grew up in the Okanagan Valley but moved to Calgary as a young man to pursue his accounting designation; he’s been trying to get back since . . .
In the oil and gas industry since 1978, Don has worked in various accounting, management, and teaching roles. He’s worked on some fascinating projects and is both proud and delighted to have his name associated with them.
Being an Okanagan boy with a fiendish work ethic and a love of wine, Don, with his wife Sheila and her brother and sister, planted Sheila’s family property in Summerland to grapes. With lots of subterranean experience working in oil and natural gas, Don was ready to get on the land and grow something.
Don has participated in several organizations outside work:
· Past player and past member of the executive of the Calgary Hornets Rugby Football Club
· Past registrar of and coach in the Calgary Northwest Ringette Association
· Past president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Land Administration (CAPLA).
He and Sheila have two grown daughters out in the world and a Siberian Husky at home. The funny thing is, all of this has prepared Don well for the wine industry. He knows how to put his head down and work.
Michael Bartier was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley, leaving home after finishing high school for university. After receiving a degree from the University of Victoria and working in wine sales on Vancouver Island for a few years, he and his wife Jodi returned home to the Okanagan. While looking for a “real job”, Michael accepted casual work with a friend at a winery. Since he’s still doing this, you could say he hasn’t found a real job yet.
Through on-the-job training, university extension, and distance learning at Washington State University and University of California, Davis, Michael eventually worked his way into a winemaking position.
He quickly made a name for himself: first as a maker of white wines, earning two Canadian White Wine of the Year titles within three years, and then as a maker of red wines with several consecutive Lieutenant Governor’s awards for his red wines.
Michael enjoyed stints at Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards, Township 7, and Road 13, among others. Currently, he consults as a technical advisor in winemaking and farming practices to several wineries and vineyards in British Columbia.
Michael and Jodi have a teenage son, who is also their best friend. They’re a tight family with an enviable lifestyle sharing great food and many outdoor activities.
Michael’s winemaking philosophy is simple:
1) Plant the correct grapes on the correct site.
2) Farm healthy soils and vines, and great fruit will follow.
3) Take the good fruit into the cellar, and make sure the vineyard character, not the winemaker’s manipulations, make it to the glass.
4) Don’t try to copy Napa, or Bordeaux, or Burgundy; make Okanagan wine. These places make beautiful wines, but they’re different from what the Okanagan gives, and they don’t have the privilege of working with Okanagan grapes.
Here are notes on the current releases.
Bartier Bros. Pinot Gris 2017 ($21.99 for 229 cases). This wine, fermented cool and aged four months in stainless steel on the lees, has aromas and flavours of apple and peach. The sweet honey note on the nose adds to the appeal; but the finish is crisp, with lingering notes of lemon. 91.
Bartier Bros. Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($21.99 for 132 cases). Reminiscent of Sancerre, this wine begins with herbal and citrus aromas. On the palate, the flavours of herbs and grapefruit are supported by slatey minerality. The finish is crisply dry. 90.
Bartier Bros. Sémillon 2017 ($N/A for 258 cases). This vintage produced a wine with 13.1% alcohol. It begins with aromas of lemon and fresh hay leading to flavours of grapefruit. Dry, it has a lingering finish. 91.
Bartier Bros. Sémillon 2016 ($17.99 for 648 cases). Fermented with indigenous yeast, the wine aromas of lemon which are echoed on the palate, along with tangy orange notes. The bright acidity is well-balanced with a touch of residual sugar, so that the wine finishes dry. With just 11.6% alcohol, the wine is light and refreshing. 91.
Bartier Bros. Sémillon 2015 ($25.99 for 73 cases). With 12.6% alcohol, this sits in the middle of this three-vintage vertical. Yet the texture makes the wine seem richer. There are aromas and favours of lemon and orange; the mineral backbone adds to the structure. 91.
Bartier Bros. Chardonnay 2016 ($22.99 for 425 cases). This wine begins with aromas of white peach and citrus. On the palate, there are flavours of ripe apple and citrus around a spine of minerals. Six months of lees aging have given the wine good texture. The finish lingers. 91.
Bartier Bros. Granite 2017 ($25.99 for 135 cases). This Bartier’s entry into the “orange” category. It is 63% Gewürztraminer and 37% Pinot Gris. The grapes were destemmed and crushed into one-ton open top fermenters. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeast, macerating on the skins for 19 days before aging four months on lees in stainless steel. The color is light bronze. The wine begins with aromas strawberry, orange and sweet tobacco, echoed on the palate. There also are hints of spice and cedar on the dry finish. The flavours linger. 92.
Bartier Bros. Rosé 2017 ($17.99 for 1,868 cases). The complexity of this rosé boggles the mind: 18% Cabernet Franc, 18% Muscat Ottonel, 31% Gewürztraminer and 40% Chardonnay. But it is a delicious wine: fashionably pale, with aromas and flavours of strawberry, rose petal, citrus and plum. The wine has a polished texture and a crisp, dry finish. 91.
Bartier Bros. Merlot 2016 ($22.99 for 691 cases). The wine begins with lovely ripe fruit aromas, hinting of black currant jam. The long ripe tannins give this wine a generous texture. It has flavours of cassis, black cherry, ripe blueberry. 91.
Bartier Bros. Cabernet Franc 2016 ($25.99 for 505 cases). The wine has the classic brambly aromas and spicy flavours of the varietal. The wine should be decanted for drinking now, or better, cellared for several years to allow it to develop. 91.
Bartier Bros. Syrah 2016 ($29.99 for 491 cases). The grapes for this wine were de-stemmed and crushed into neutral 225 litre French oak barrels, to be fermented with natural yeast. The barrels were rolled once or twice a day for 36 years month to achieve extended maceration. The wine was then aged 14 months in neutral barrels. The wine begins with aromas of vanilla, pepper and fruitcake spices. These are echoed in the flavours, along with hints of cedar and tobacco. There is a smoky note on the finish. 91.