Spokane’s Barrister Winery has released four new wines for 2010. These new releases are a showcase for why Barrister is getting worldwide attention for their consistency of quality, character, structure, and flavor. When co-owner and co-winemaker Greg Lipsker asked if I was interested in previewing the new releases, I had to calm myself before answering with a resounding YES! Greg and Mike are responsible for some of my favorite wines. Their Rough Justice blend was my January wine of the month.
Barrister is located in an historic 100 year old building in Spokane’s downtown core (Railroad Ave, west of Jefferson). The 25,000 square foot facility houses production, a large single stack barrel room, storage, and an expansive tasting room and event facility. Barrister offers a unique space to host your wedding, reception, corporate event, or special family dinner. Barrister is also the best stop on the First Friday Art Walk in Spokane. Check out my previous video tour of the facility and interview with Greg.
The key to Barrister wines is good fruit, patience and attention to specifics. The wines reviewed below are from some of Washington’s most prestigious vineyards, Sagemoor, Weinbau, Dwelly, Kiona and Koinonia. As you’ll note in the video, Greg and Mike take a vintage by vintage approach to their wine making, adjusting blends and barrel routines as appropriate to showcase the fruit. Their attention to detail shows in the finished product.
2009 Barrister Winery Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from Koinonia Vineyards, 0% residual sugar, .8% acidity, 14.1%abv, 136 cases produced
- The Swirl: Light and nearly clear in color, thin viscosity, clean and clear
- The Sniff: Floral aromas of white flowers, pears, and perfume. The nose offers a tight bouquet but is still elegant and fresh.
- The Sip: In agreement with Greg, this wine is summertime on the lips. A bone dry presentation that allows the crisp fruit to be front and center. Your mouth is greeting with a kiss of pear and wet stone and says goodbye with a well balanced acidity. The wine is not tart and in spite of being bone dry, doesn’t leave you feeling parched.
- The Score: At only $17, this is one of the most refreshing and well balanced Rieslings that I have discovered. With only 136 cases made, you won’t want to delay to get yours for the upcoming summer season. Drink now or store for 3-5 years. I score this wine a 4 (out of 5).
The 2009 Barrister Winery Riesling is a superb value and an amazing demonstration of Riesling fruit from Koinonia Vineyards. The bone dry finish leaves you longing for more without a tartness that leaves you parched. Pair this wine with summer, grilled vegetables, shrimp salad, light pasta, and fruit. DrinkNectar highly recommends this wine.
2008 Barrister Winery Sangiovese
- The Stuff: 100% Sangiovese from Kiona Estate Vineyards. Aged 15 months in used French oak, 14.5%abv, 149 cases produced
- The Swirl: Deep burgundy color that is 60% opaque and mellows out to bright ruby tones on the edges.
- The Sniff: An amazing presentation of big bright cherries, spice, vanilla, and hints of cinnamon.
- The Sip: Hold on Antonio, this is not your father’s Italian Chianti / Sangio. This medium bodied wine is a showcase of the hot weather from Red Mountain that produces amazingly bold fruit. In this limited tasting there was all bright cherries and hints of toast. A nice firm tannin and lingering tart finish rounded out the beautiful wine. Not representative of the variety, but made in a strong new world fashion.
- The Score: Loving the presentation of fruit and big finish, this $25 wine scores a solid 3+ (out of 5).
2007 Barrister Winery Merlot
- The Stuff: 86% Merlot from Dwelly Vineyards and 9% Cab Franc, 5% Cab Sauv; 14.8%abv, 271 cases produced
- The Swirl: Elegant bright plum colors that are about 70% opaque. Spectacular color structure that suggests quality and high extraction
- The Sniff: A Merlot worthy of putting Miles (from the movie Sideways) in his place. Fantastic aroma of smooth cocoa and berry – imagine cherry cocoa puffs with a hint of pipe tobacco smoke.
- The Sip: The very front palate of this wine is a semi-sweet medium cherry flavor that presents hints of baking cocoa on the mid-palate. A bright hint of blueberry jumps out at the back end as you begin to swallow the wine. A surprisingly strong and well structured finish complete this well crafted Merlot.
- The Score: At $25 this Merlot can compete among the ranks of wines twice the price. I score this a 4+ (out of 5) and put it up there with the top 3 Merlot I’ve had in 2010.
The 2007 Barrister Winery Merlot is a showcase of what Merlot can be. With smooth elegant cherry and cocoa flavors the addition of Cab Franc and Cab Sauv bring to light a bright blueberry spark and a strong finish. This wine could be a casual sipping wine and would stand up well to grilled burgers, BBQ ribs, and a mild red pasta dish. DrinkNectar highly recommends this wine as one of the top Merlots of the year.
2007 Barrister Winery Sagemoor Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 75% Cabernet from Sagemoor Vineyards in Walla Walla, 15% Merlot and 10% Syrah also from Sagemoor Vineyards; aged 20+ months in 75% French and 25% American oak; 15.2%abv, 210 cases produced.
- The Swirl: Thick and inky with stormy night characteristics. The wine is about 90-95% opaque and is nearly black at the middle of the glass
- The Sniff: An aroma of blackberry and plum saturates the nose. A slight alcohol heat with spice accompaniment throws off the aroma profile only slightly.
- The Sip: The wine has bottle aged well and despites its youth of 3 years, is a fairly smooth offering for a big Cab (probably softened by the addition of Merlot). Big dark spicy cherries showcase the flavors with undercurrents of red raspberry and dark chocolate. Slight hints of oak, but very subtle. The finish lingers for quite some time, but presents a little burn on the swallow.
- The Score: A beautiful wine that will resonate with big Cab lovers. The high alcohol is the only moderately off-putting part of this wine. Avoid pairing this with spicy dishes which will compound the heat. At $33 I score this wine a 4 (out of 5).