Bartholomew Wine's owner, operator, winemaker, and all around hustler is Bart Fawbush and while he's the new kid on the block in Seattle's urban wine market, he's certainly not new to the wine world. He's also not a fan of New Kids on the Block, just to clear that up.
I've met my share of winemakers and Bart is about as unassuming a character as I've met. He believes, as we at the Oregon Wine Blog do, that wine is about the experience. It was the social element that drew him to the wine world; he likes talking to people and learning about them and about what they enjoy. Wine sets a nice bit of background music for taking in all he can about those he meets.
His experience with Washington Wine is what brought him to this point. After having tasted some of Washington's wines he decided he wanted to know more. Bart gleaned his knowledge by working at all levels within the wine world here in Washington. He assisted on a few harvests, he sold wines as an impromptu representative and he poured at many tasting rooms and events. His experiences taught him a lot about the industry but also about the kinds of wines he wanted to create. From the outset, Bart knew that he wanted to begin his foray into wine with blends and so he sought guidance from Robert Smasne in choosing vineyard sites and thinking about the characteristics of various Washington varietals.
His first releases are a real treat, particularly for those of us who are fans of blends. The first release, including the Orsa, the Jaxon, the Reciprocity, and are all 2007; the Sauvignon Blanc is a 2008. The Orsa is his Rhone Style blend, and he did an amazing job with it. The Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre blend is probably one of my favorite styles of wine. Bart's first go at it is impressive, with brandied cherries on the pallet and a dusty earthen nose. The Jaxon, a Cabernet and Merlot blend, is named for Bart's son. This is the only vineyard designate that Bart is making right now, and it's out of Walla Walla's Pepperbridge Vineyard. His final blend, the Reciprocity, was off the chain. (Young kids like to say off the chain. I used to say off the hook, but I'm trying to be hip here.) The Carmenere and Cabernet blend had Gwynne and I both swooning. Carmenere usually brings a little more of the wild element to a wine, but this blending with Cabernet has tamed it into a refined beauty. (Gwynne and I scooped up a couple bottles of Reciprocity.)
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Bartholomew Wine is also making a really beautiful Sauvignon Blanc, and with summer on it's way this is a wine for the warm weather ahead of us. The wine is a bit more fruit forward than a lot of the grassy, minerally Sauvignon Blancs we get in Washington and it has a brilliant acidity that makes it dangerously easy to drink.
I'm really happy for Bart as I first met him while he was pouring for Smasne Cellars at another event. We'd been chatting for some time about his coming winery and opening weekend. It's clear that there is a lot of love and passion in what he's doing. His blends are really interesting and with his first release he's making really nicely balanced wines. I hope you'll go by and say hello and take some time to enjoy his wine - with what he's doing, it's very easy to enjoy them.