by Treve Ring | Winemaker Michael Bartier is as rooted in the Okanagan as some of his vines. Born and raised in the Valley, his first job in the industry was shilling wine while at UVic. After returning to the Okanagan and casual winery work he was inspired to take courses at UC Davis and Washington State University before a working stint in Australia. Back in BC, he made wine and consulted with a number of varied wine projects, most recently at Okanagan Crush Pad before launching his own winery with his brother Don.
Though merlot is the number one planted red grape in the province, most would agree it’s for commercial and marketing reasons rather than for quality. This merlot is one of the successful exceptions. It’s sourced from famed Cerqueira Vineyard on southern Okanagan’s Black Sage gravel bar, between Oliver and Osoyoos. Dense loam, graveled limestone and cobbled granite encourages vine roots to dig deep and seek out water and nutrients. This wild ferment, unfined and unfiltered merlot carries the earthy warmth of the desert sun through pure, herb-textured black cherry and black plum. Earthy bramble and wild sage are woven throughout this medium bodied merlot, lifted with a swell of acidity and hemmed in with grippy and ripe tannins, finishing with a dusty dark cocoa note. Thirty percent whole berry and vertical basket press to thin staved neutral French tip this in your favour. This elegant and restrained merlot is drinking very well now upon release, but will continue to knit with 3-5 years.
I asked Mike about the message in a bottle of his Bartier Brothers 2013 Merlot.
Straight up, why did you make this wine? Simply put, this wine is the highest use of this land. There is not a single grape variety or blend that could come from this patch of land that will be even remotely close to being this delicious. The climate, the topsoils, the subsoils, the exposure to the sun, the native yeasts, everything is perfect for a single variety Merlot wine.
Where are the grapes from? This is a single vineyard block wine from our Cerqueira Vineyard, site of the winery. The site is located between Black Sage and Ryegrass roads between Oliver and Osoyoos – an incredibly rocky spot made up of a complex suite of glacial till deposited about 10,000 years ago from the retreat of the last ice age. Locally this area is referred to as the Black Sage Gravel Bar.
Your ideal pairing with this wine would be…? Hopefully not appearing to be hedging, but this is pretty versatile wine. For me it’s a go-to with anything off the barbecue
Favourite BC wine, other than yours? Tough decision between any vintage of Stoneboat Pinot Gris and Road 13 Old Vines Chenin Blanc. Both are hallmark Okanagan whites; fresh, fruity, minerally, complex, and delicious.
What do you drink when you’re not drinking BC wine? I like a crisp refreshing style of either red or whites – Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Hungarian Furmint, light Valpolicella, Muscadet, Vouvray, Beaujolais, Soave.