Sun, Jan 29|
PK's Picks - SOLD OUT - Join the Waitlist 425-242-8872
Join our very own Peter Kasperski (PK) and enjoy small bites while exploring Forgeron Cellars and Anvil by Forgeron wines through comparison tastings including vintage, varietal, vineyard, and verticals. Each month PK will host a memorable hour-long educational session.
Time & Location
Jan 29, 2023, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Forgeron Cellars, 14344 Redmond - Woodinville Rd NE, Redmond, WA 98052, USA
About the event
SOLD OUT - Join the Waitlist 425-242-8872
PK’s Picks is our (and, by our, I mean my) alliterative answer to a regularly requested deep dive that seriously spotlights some fabulous Forgeron finds. Hey, it could be worse, it was almost called Kasperski’s Korner.
The wine that seems to have drawn more first-time guests to Forgeron Cellars than any other is the Barbera. The Barbera varietal is the third most planted in all of Italy and is responsible for what is known as the unofficial ‘Piedmont Farmer’s Wine’, probably because they drink it there at every meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, protein bar breaks, you name it, they tipple it. Perhaps that’s due to its ardent attraction for food pairings – from cheeses and charcuterie (again, served at every meal) to pastas and poultry to anything featuring mushrooms or tomatoes, Barbera is a team player, with earthy rusticity and cleansing acidity that meld and marry marvelously.
There’s a basic honesty to Barbera, an every day every person sort of vibe. It remains one of the quite rare Old World wines known solely by its varietal as opposed to its region. While California has long championed Barbera, it is a recent find for Washington, with sustainably farmed Sagemoor Vineyard (in the freshly minted White Bluffs AVA) having been one of its earliest adapters. This month, we are revisiting three vintages of Forgeron Cellars Barbera from the Sagemoor Vineyard, 2017, 2018, & 2019, to seek similarities, compare contrasts, and forage food affinities.
Barbera is a high acid/low tannin varietal. Fairly rare in the wine world, and the combo adds immensely to the food-friendly quotient of the wine.
Forgeron Cellars never uses new oak to age Barbera. We only use vintage oak (and, in the case of the 2019 vintage, 29% stainless steel, which seems to matter). Side Note: the first two weeks I worked here, I couldn’t remember the word neutral, so I started calling used barrels vintage oak, and, if you actually think about it, even barrels that have been used nine times are not neutral, they still impart texture and flavor, so, coincidence? Yeah, probably, but, still, no oak is truly neutral. Lastly, Forgeron Cellars leans toward minimal intervention and utilizing the assets that Mother Nature provides on a regular basis, wine to wine, vintage to vintage. This frequently results in wildly different aromatic and flavor profiles is many of our wines from year to year, despite the same vineyard plots and varietals. However, not so with the Barbera from Sagemoor Vineyard. There are points of difference, but many more instances of consistent similarity. Rather shocking, and yet, somehow soothing, to know this every day every personvarietal can maintain dependable reliability despite the vagaries of vintages.
2017 Forgeron Barbera, Sagemoor Vineyard
Like all the 2017s, this appears to be evolving rapidly and throwing considerable sediment. There is a noticeable gradation of color at the rim, from violet to crimson. The nose is rather restrained, presenting intermittent notes of red plum, under ripe Rainier cherry, tomatillo, and brief traces of gorgonzola. Like all three of these offerings, the primary notes of tomato acid and tomato leaf remain a constant on the palate, along with hints of star anise and truffle zest. The finish suggests dried strawberries, Sour Patch grapefruit candy, Earl Grey tea, Peruvian chocolate and a dash of blueberry port (it’s a Michigan thing, and it is delicious). It is likely at its peak.
2018 Forgeron Barbera, Sagemoor Vineyard
Again, this is throwing noticeable sediment, which is atypical for the vintage. The color is a deep, murky indigo with a splash of burnt orange at the rim. The nose is reticent but fairly exotic for Barbera – salted caramel, lavender, porcini dust and Howard’s violet candy all make appearances. On the palate, there is a consistent thread of Campari tomato, interspersed with chokecherry and a sort of rhubarb-blackberry hybrid. The finish is astringent and cleansing, with just a suggestion of fresh wasabi root.
2019 Forgeron Barbera, Sagemoor Vineyard
Zero indication of sediment. The color is a steady plummy purple. The initial nose is reminiscent of freshly turned earth, followed closely by Roma tomato, Black Sambuca and mulberry. The flavors are all playing hide-and-seek, with brief bursts of enoki mushroom, Bing cherry, orange pekoe tea and Liquore Strega, all anchored by just a hint of gaminess (roast lamb leg, perhaps). Repeated tastes reveal a butternut squash component. Overall, this wine displays a bit less rusticity than its previous vintages and just a touch more sleekness. Enough to be noticeable and perhaps affect food pairings.
To be fair, these wines all show remarkably similar profiles, from definitive tomato acid on the palate to notes of mushroom, tomato, cherry and herbs, displaying a terrific balance of rusticity and freshness with a dynamic food-friendly aura. It took an hours-long session of back-and-forth reflections to discover (relatively) minor variances and points of difference. And, also to be fair, happy to do it. These wines are special. New World Barbera wines that mirror the prime attributes of what makes Italian Barbera a mainstay, yet pays homage to its own sense of place? Yeah, somewhat revelatory, particularly when considering other New World Barbera wine that could do the same, because I cannot really think of any. Not being a Homer here, I honestly can’t.
Finally, food pairings! So, so, so many. Let’s just stick with the obvious and you can evolve it from there. Virtually any pasta, pizza, flatbread, dish featuring tomatoes, dish featuring mushrooms, dish featuring cheese, they are all gimmes. Add the vast majority of charcuterie, pork and poultry. It also buddies up to basil and arugula quite nicely.
To prove the point, Forgeron Cellars will host the first PK’s Picks Tasting Seminar on Sunday, January 29, beginning promptly at 2:00pm at the Woodinville Tasting Room. Extremely limited seating, reservations required, and they can only be achieved by booking tickets online or by calling the tasting room at (425) 242-8872. The cost is free for Wine Club Members, $25 for the general public. Tasting and talking about all three vintages of Forgeron Barbera with small bites of fun food pairings created solely for this event.
You should come. I may even tell the joke about the iguanas and the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. Spoiler – it’s not alliterative.
- Peter Kasperski (PK)