An even bigger Barbera than before: Sandhill Burrowing Owl Vineyard 2003

bc barbara sand hill winery okanogan valley canada burrow owls small lot bottle gift from joe's wine
If you're a blogger whose comments initiate intriguing, thread-twisting online conversation that often belie the topic of the post you attach them to, then you are sure to appreciate this.

Last weekend, Joe of Joe's Wine gave me with a bottle of wine. No doubt, a generous thing to do, but how many times does the gift of a bottle of wine answer the exact question you want answered?

It all started about half a year ago. Joe got things rolling with an unrelated comment on my blog post. One thing lead to another, and I was left with an unanswered question. To see what I mean, take a look at this thread of comments:

Joe said...
For the reds, they served the Borgogno Barbera and Don Antonio Nero d'Avola - the Borgogno was nice, but I will blog some better Barberas tonight/tomorrow. The Don Antonio was very cool, but pricey, and I am not yet a Nero believer. Next week is not Italy - switched to a Bouchard Pere et Fils Burgundy tasting. Cheers!
11:49 PM, March 17, 2007
Marcus said...
...As for Barbera, v. intrigued. Such an neat variety. Had Terredavino's Luna i Falo Superiore since it was on sale. Lacks balance and integration. A bit of a freakshow if you ask me. Might post about it later too.
1:43 PM, March 18, 2007
Joe said...
I have had the Luna i Falo before -a Malcolm Anderson recommendation. I'm not sure I recall 'freak show', but let's just say I haven't bought it in a while. I have actually blogged a Canadian barbera...
9:49 PM, March 18, 2007
Marcus said...
Joe beware the new 2004. It got a fair chance, decanted and given time. It's just really not good. And I'm someone who's recommended it before.
B.C. Barbera?
8:12 AM, March 19, 2007
That was the final comment on the post. Time passes. Exactly five months to the day, I meet Joe in person for the very first time and he hands me a B.C. Barbera. What a guy! For the record, it was the Sandhill Burrowing Owl Vineyard Barbera 2003.

I didn't wait long at all to open it up -- I uncorked it at the first Italian dinner that came my way. I'm glad I did.

Our plates of lamb, veal and sausage -- all strongly flavoured meats themselves -- were topped with strongly flavoured seasonal ingredients, like tomatoes and herbs in peak mouthfilling condition. Like I wrote in my Big Babs post, it's the heightened, often bursting deli-style flavours that Barbera is a natural match for.

And in classic style, that's exactly what this robust and delicious Sandhill Barbera wants. So here are the details, to the best of my note-taking abilities. (I wrote on the back of my sales receipt for a Pfaffenheim Schneckenberg Alsace Pinot Blanc 2004, which actually was a pick of another blogging friend, Bill of Wine with Bill Zacharkiw -- his selection was a seductive apricot and lime aperitif to the Italian proceedings.)

Eye: BONNES VACANCES A NOS CLIENTS (whoops that's just the receipt talking... sorry no colour notes taken!)

Nose: Ouch. Smells burnt at first. It's very, very smoky, subsiding eventually into a more friendly aroma. (Joe said it needed time so we left it uncorked for a while.)

Mouth: Wonderful Barbera acidity, and acidity in the best way -- mouthfilling and coarse with notes of chocolate on the finish. You can see what hearty, often fatty foods are a must -- this cuts right through deliciously. The smokiness turns into nice earthy licorice-y flavours. Some raspberry. Cranberry too, which suggests to me that this bottle is peaking.

Stomach: See above for food pairings. Note that this wine is perceptibly oaked but with dinner I actually prefer that to unoaked.

Online: Read the winery's PDF'ed descriptive profile (it also explains how this wine is part of Sandhill's impressive and ambitious Small Lots Program) or Joe's tasting notes.

On the bottle label: High alcohol is not translated to the glass, which means this is a tremendously successly cuvée of balance and structure. (The alcohol that does come off is integrated and enjoyable -- and I don't enjoy alcohol!)

Thanks Joe!

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. 14.5%.


Joe said...

Hey Marcus - glad you had a chance to crack it open! (sorry, I have been travelling) I would agree with the acidity comment, and yes - it has probably peaked. I don't recall the alcohol either - you surprised me when I read this post. Anyway, I have also had their Cab Franc, Sangiovese and Malbec. I like this winery a lot (Cab Franc the best), but yes, the oak is very present. Cheers!

Marcus said...

You were surprised how? That I reviewed it already or that I didn't think it was too hot?

Cab Franc you mention sounds very interesting...

Thanks again for such an awesome bottle, totally unique and top-class at the same time. I would definitely buy it again and try others.

Joe said...

I didn't expect you to pull the trigger so quickly - sounds like it was a good idea. Apparently the winery will ship to Quebec - perhaps a joint case is in order. Sandhill is actually most famous for their whites, I recall. Pinot Gris I believe. Cheers!

Marcus said...

I've yet to enter the world of wine shipping...