Virtual Tasting - Barnard Griffin Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

The August Virtual Tasting is tonight! The wine is the 2007 Barnard Griffin Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine retails for $17 and can frequently be found in super-markets in the Washington area. As usual, I will be opening the bottle about 7pm and posting my notes along the way. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.

7:05 Update: Let the virtual tasting begin! To start with, let's give some background information about the winery.

Barnard Griffin winemaker Rob Griffin first came to Washington in 1977 after graduating from UC Davis. Upon arrival he started work as Preston’s first winemaker. In 1983, he and his wife Deborah Barnard started Barnard Griffin. For the first vintage, Griffin created 400 cases total of Chardonnay, Fumé Blanc and Riesling. Twenty-six years later, the winery has an annual production of approximately 75,000 cases.

Barnard Griffin has two tiers of wine, their Tulip Series which represents their value wines, and their Reserve Series. The winery makes a staggering number of reserve wines. Reserve Reds include bottling of Rose, a Port-style wine, Grenache, Cabernet, Ciel du Merlot, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, and Misto Rosso. Many of these are sold through the winery/tasting room located in Richland.

On to the wine…

7:20 Update:
Wine has a natural cork, no sediment. Temperature is 63 degrees.

A pretty, brilliantly colored wine. On the nose, a lot of sweet oak aromas along with touches of vanilla, and anise. Fruit is there but a least at present is underneath the oak. A little alcohol shows through occasionally. Time to take a sip.

7:40 Update: On the taste, palate coating with a fair amount of oak flavors. Lots and lots of anise. A bit biting on the backend. As the wine opens, the oak steps back and the fruit steps forward, mainly cherry. The anise becomes more predominant along with a mocha component.

8:00 Update: The wine has evolved a bit but my overall impressions are the same. A reasonably enjoyable wine with lots of oak influence on the nose and taste. Not my personal style but is pretty well done. However, the bite on the backend is a problem. I'd give this a plus (+) in my system. For you 100 point addicts out there, I'd say it's an 87. Overpriced at $17 compared to similar wines out there. I purchased the wine at Pete's Bellevue for $12. I would say the value for this wine is in the $10-12 range.

Next up, let's see how the winery describes this wine and what the experts say.

8:20 Update: Some stats on the wine. Columbia Valley AVA. 14.3% alcohol. 6,548 cases produced.

Winery says: Rich, dense and concentrated with amazing purity of flavor. Plum, cherry and mineral with hints of bittersweet chocolate. Well-integrated oak-spice accents take the back seat to the amazing fruit. The mouth waters at the mere suggestion of this sleek, polished cab with a tender cut of beef. 79.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 5.5% Petit Verdot, 3.3% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc.

Wine Spectator says: 88 points. Ripe and fleshy, this lovely, open-textured red brims with currant and blackberry fruit, lingering on the well-tuned finish. Drink now through 2013. 6,548 cases made. –HS

8:50 Final Update: Overall, my impressions of the wine have been pretty static. An enjoyable nose with a lot of oak influence. Over time mocha becomes more and more predominant on nose and taste. A bit biting on the middle of the palate. Thanks to everyone who took part in the tasting!

I found this VERY amusing ad tonight I thought I would share with you. I agree on visiting Walla Walla. I'll take issue with the rest of it! Good night!

Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Popped and poured. Nose is fairly muted, but I get some red fruit and subtle mocha. Definitely a wine made to be approachable; hard to believe this is Cab, given the complete lack of tannins. The flavor is pretty bright and Cabby, with good acid and some subtle oaky (or is it stemmy?) bitterness on the back end. This is pleasant, but I would like to see a bit more complexity at this price point. Perhaps we'll see some evolution as the night rolls on.

  2. Nice write up Paul! I totally agree with the finish. A bit tart. Overall though I think it is quite pleasant. Nose I got sweet spices, some cherry syrup, and hints of dust. Beginning of the palate has some grittiness that I like and overall the palate is even, until the too tart finish. We'll see how it all rolls on as the night goes on...

  3. Boy, I really agree with Paul, too. First on the nose, I got black pepper. Then, after a few minutes, blueberries and cherries. Then back to black pepper. I like that nose!

    The taste is bright and rather thin, but not unpleasant. I get the stemmyness/bitterness right away, and I was a little surprised the finish was not fuller and longer.

    This is not a complex wine. Initially, it's pleasant but not remarkable. It does not stand up to rich or complex-tasting food (e.g., cheeses, spicy food).

  4. Paul, definitely agree on the mocha and the low amount of tannins. Definitely a drink me now wine. No surprise there. Definitely a bitterness on the backend.

    Ldog, thanks for the notes. I'll have to check for the grittiness.

    Kathleen, I like the nose a good bit too, although a bit more oak elements than I care for but still fun and interesting. I agree that it lacks much complexity. An enjoyable wine but at $17 retail, I want a little bit more.

  5. Over time the taste bores me. Oaky stuff is gone. Nose is still interesting but that finish is pretty tangy, and is getting tangier (not a word, I know) every second. Starting to get the feeling that this wine might be hangover material. Hmm... Started out ok, but boy, I'm not high on it anymore.