prime time wines from barnard griffin

Monday, November 01, 2010

You know how some of your favorite bands never seem to crack the big time? They have the tunes, the flash, the live show… but they don’t break through. Same with wineries. There are some wineries that do everything right, but don’t get the acclaim that it seems that they should. Why is that? "Blame it on a simple twist of fate." Whatever else you may think about such random acts of unkindness, I can tell you this – those under-praised wineries are the ones to look for, because they give you great wines at non-cult prices. And here’s one from Washington.

Barnard Griffin got surprisingly low scores in the most recent Wine Advocate reviews – 85s to 88s mostly. The only wines to crack 90 were a clone-labeled Cabernet (which I have not tasted) and a late harvest Muscat (which I have also not tasted). Barnard Griffin makes two tiers of wines – an affordably priced flower label, and a diamond label for reserve and wine club wines. In reviewing a dozen of the current releases, I found wines that were, without exception, beautifully crafted, moderate in alcohol, seamless and immediately appealing, and in some instances, built for aging. Prices have not risen in years, and overall these are clearly among the very best wines for the buck that are produced in this state.

Here are notes on my favorites among the current releases with suggested retail prices:

Barnard Griffin 2009 Fumé Blanc ($9). Sappy, spicy, penetrating, Sancerre-like, under 13% alcohol.

Barnard Griffin 2009 Chardonnay ($14). Fresh herbs, crisp green apple and citrus fruit, a full, spicy, tangy mouthfeel, and a lingering and clean finish.

Barnard Griffin 2009 Orange Muscat ($17). I rarely get excited over Muscat, but this huge mouthful of orange fruit and orange rind resonates from start to finish.

Barnard Griffin 2009 Viognier ($25). Citrus rind, pineapple, apple and pear, with juicy acidity and a hint of mint and pepper.

Barnard Griffin 2007 Reserve Merlot ($30). A muscular, substantial Merlot with black cherry fruit, cut tobacco, and streaks of clove, cinnamon, coffee and bitter chocolate.

Barnard Griffin 2008 Ciel du Cheval Merlot ($35). Bright berry flavors, sharp acidity, and penetrating minerality.

Barnard Griffin 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17). Violets, plum and cherry and cassis fruit, finished with smooth and polished tannins.

Barnard Griffin 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($40). Best in show; pure Cabernet Sauvignon, loaded with dark fruits, smoke, licorice and black tea flavors.

Barnard Griffin 2008 Malbec ($35). Like tasting flowers, but with red wine muscle and fruit. Tart berry, baking spices, silky tannins, and a finish with coffee ground highlights.

Barnard Griffin 2007 Petit Verdot ($35). Pretty purple berry and plum fruit, barrel flavors of cut tobacco, clove and vanilla, and a little more grip than the other B-G reds.

Barnard Griffin 2008 Syrah ($17). Detailed with subtle notes of herb, citrus, earth, and tart berries.

Barnard Griffin


Jo Diaz said...

So true about the ones that are great, but don't surface as cult... Bargain prices, until the secret's out!

Anonymous said...

Quite possibly the best brand in WA that most people would not recognize. Distributed these for 5 years- awesome, awesome value! The whole flower label overdelivers for the $...the Riesling and Cab were so easy to get BTG placements b/c the P/Q ratio...delicious wines to say the least.

I remember hearing that BG does zero advertising, not sure if that's true. They forge ahead, quietly slaying other WA wines with no heart :)

I also remember being told by more than one small upstart WA winery that Rob Griffin has done lots to help small wineries get their starts...admirable in a cut-throat industry like ours.

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