What We Say 2006 Barry's Blend Pinot Noir
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SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!: When we feature a really superior wine, we point it out in one of these alerts. Today’s wine also deserves an Exceptional QPR Alert…
Mission Codename: Marshall your resources
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Sleuth out a New World meets Old World-style Pinot Noir – from California
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Marshall Family Wine
Wine Subject: 2005 Barry’s Blend Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Barry Marshall
Backgrounder: The Wine Spies and its Operatives love ‘scrappy’. We believe in hard work and cunning and feel somewhat cynical toward some ‘silver spoon’ wineries that pop on to our radar from time to time. For Barry Marshall, his dream of making wine was one that required skill, creativity and, most of all, a fighting attitude that saw him through the rough patches. We salute Barry today and acknowledge the delicious fruits of his hard work. Remember, Barry, success breeds more success – and you are well on your way!
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Rich ruby red with an exceptionally springy surface, concentrated color to the edges and long, thin legs
Smell – Big dark fruit flavors of dusky plum, deepest blackberry and darkest cherry with cola, oak and dark cocoa
Feel – Soft and round up front, fast and velvety across the mid, then the wines medium tannins take hold, coating the mouth, gripping tongue, lips and back of the mouth
Taste – Lots of dark fruit at the beginning, with dark cherry, blueberry and blackberry, with hints of cola, mineral, truffle, meat and tomato vine
Finish – Full and flavorful across the entire palate, with sweet then delicate tart as the flavors taper off leaving a slight mineral dryness and a lip-licking pucker that reminds you to have another sip
Conclusion – Barry Marshall, winemaker of this unique Burgundy-style Pinot calls this wine one to enjoy with “holiday dinners or just sitting around and enjoying life”. We like your style, Barry, and we love your wine. This is a fantastic Pinot Noir for all, especially for fans of Burgundian wines. ‘Missing’ from this wine are some the the California attributes that many old world Pinot fans find so annoying about Cali Pinot Noir; This wine is no slap in the face with Cali-typical sweet and massive flavors that can overpower your palate. Rather, this wine pleases with more refined and subdued qualities that make the wine a real pleasure to enjoy on its own, or with most foods.
Winemaker Interview Notes
Conversation Date: 07/28/2008
Time: 1530 Hours
Subject: Barry Marshall
Agent: Agent Red
Agent Red: Hi Barry. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. I know its a busy time of year for you.
Barry Marshall: My Pleasure. Its great to be working with the Spies again.
Red: Tell me what’s happening in your world at the moment. What occupies your time these days.
Barry: Looking toward the fall harvest, I have been calling around to all of my winemaker friends. On everyone’s mind right now is how the frost will effect yields. Most are of the opinion that yields will be 30% to 50% lower. That’s the biggest worry.
Red: Will quality be affected at all?
Barry: No. On the contrary, everyone is unanimous in their opinion that 2008 will be a great vintage.
Red: What about pricing? Will 2008 vintage wines be higher in price as a result?
Barry: Not likely, but impossible to tell. We’re still about 26 months away from even releasing the first 2008’s. I do think that it could trigger a hot-selling year, though. Short supply creates more demand, to be sure. Especially if the wines are great. Still, its difficult to predict.
Red: We’ve done a deep background check on you, Barry. You are a lifer in this business and you have worked for some of the best wineries in the business. From Storybook, Rombauer and Pride, to Failla, Empire and Robert Foley, you have made wine with the finest. How did you get your start.
Barry: My father was in Restaurant supply in Wisconsin. When I was a boy, I used to tag along with him on his calls to restaurants. I always thought that the bartenders had the most glamorous jobs. I decided back then that I would be in the business. After working at a few 5 star restaurants, where I was exposed to fine wines, I sort of fell into the wine business!
Red: I know that your time is short. Tell me about your Barry’s Blend Pinot Noir.
Barry: The wine has some of the typical Russian River Valley Pinot characteristics; Cherry cola, mild tobacco, french vanilla on the finish, but also with great tannins – which are sometimes missing from California Pinot Noir. This wine is certainly fruit-forward, but it is balanced by the small amout of Syrah I put into the wine.
Red: An old French winemakers trick, right?
Barry: Exactly. The Syrah introduces just a small amount of spice to the wine, balancing out the fruit and making the wine something of an Alpha/Omega wine.
Red: Tell me more about the Alpha/Omega aspect.
Barry: This is a wine that is loved by different people, and for completely opposite reasons. Its almost a paradox!
Red: Thanks, again, for chatting with me. We Wine Spies really love your wine.
Barry: Thank you, Red. Cheers to you and your Operatives!
What follows is a reprint of our Original mission to Marshall Family Wines:
Agent Bordeaux, a Wine Spies Double Agent has a reputation for sleuthing out some of the best wines wines in the world. She has a nose for quality and an eye on the industry – so when she contacted me through back channels recently, I agreed to take a meeting with her.
Bordeaux brought with her a carrier filled with unmarked bottles. Its not uncommon to see slicks, but slicks in her hands told me that these wines must be something very special.
Without telling me what was inside, she opened a bottle and poured a generous splash into each of the giant glasses she had placed on the table.
Asking her what she had poured, she simply crossed her arms, smiled at me, and sat there silently, staring at me. Taking up the challenge I grabbed the glass and got my wine on.
The color and texture of the wine struck me as somewhat non-California. So, too, did the wines fragrant but down-to-earth aromatics. This was a Pinot Noir to be sure, but possibly not of this country. A sip or two seemed to confirm my suspicions, but when I asked her if this wine was a French Pinot, she just chuckled and revealed that this great Pinot Noir was California!
After some time of airing the wine out, the fruit really did emerge, driving more of the big-fruit that Cali wines deliver, but without losing the wines old world flavors. This wine finds a real balance, delivering the best of both worlds.
When Bordeaux told me that this wine was made by Barry Marshall, I explained that Barry had been under surveillance for some time and that we had been admiring the mans tenacity, determination and, now that I had a chance to sample his wine, his talent.
Barry Marshall’s reputation is growing in the wine world, and for good reason, too; Barry’s early success in great winemaking is breeding more success.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
Another key to Barry’s great wine is great fruit. Barry sources his fruit from vineyards that will not allow him to disclose the origin of his grapes. Suffice it to say, the Pinot Noir grapes in today’s wine comes from a very famous vineyard, where wines costing a great deal more are born.
The location of the [censored] vineyard where this Pinot Noir was grown is TOP SECRET and so we cannot show you a satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Marshall Family Wines
About This Wine:
This beautiful bottle of wine shows everything you want in a Pinot Noir. Bursting with fruit and a creamy palate with cola notes, this wine tastes of raspberry, cherry and has a dark rich color. This wine is rich in every stage of tasting, a great upfront fruit, a full mid palate and a very long finish. Drink it now or hold it for three to five years. It was aged in French oak and it comes from both, Russian River and Mendocino, We are very pleased with the way this wine turned out. It is the perfect wine to go with the holiday dinners or just sitting around and enjoying life.
About The Winery:
“To earn a small fortune in the wine business, you have to start with a large one.” Well, that does not work for Barry Marshall.
Three years ago, Barry had the opportunity to purchase three barrels of Stag’s Leap District 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. He invested every penny, nickel, dime, and dollar he had, which was not much, and started to bottle. After bottling and labeling was complete, it took Barry only four months to sell all the wine. In these four months, he decided that the future direction for Marshall Family Wines was to find quality, family-owned vineyards.
Barry soon discovered Sid Abrams’s property in the Carneros region of Napa, an east/southeast-facing property with a 20-28% slope. Barry knew this vineyard would take a special team to crop, tend and pick; its slope requiring ample time to tend. So Barry got in touch with one of the best vineyard managers, James Walker, of Napa-Sonoma Vineyard Management.
This property brings a lot to the wine, making the extra effort worthwhile. The cool nights and warm days, the slopes, and eastern exposure all bring a deep dark, rich point noir. We are very happy and proud to have this wine in our fold and we look forward for this wine to do great things in the future.
The next property they acquired was the Dill Family property. Located in the Napa Valley in the Calistoga region, this small vineyard is just one acre and is hand manicured by Bruce Dill himself. This is a small crop vineyard (only two tons) which brings very intense fruit, the fruit grown is only Cabernet Sauvignon.