Barry Family Wines 2013 Tuller Vineyard Pinot Noir came and went — only 50 cases were made and they sold quickly — but it’s a wine that I’ll remember. We always remember the good ones, don’t we?
Barry Family cellars co-owner and winemaker Ian Barry started working with John Tuller and his fruit during Barry’s first vintage in the Finger Lakes, when he was working at Heron Hill. At the time, Heron Hill bought all of Tuller’s fruit, including pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and cabernet franc.
“I always thought his fruit was unique, but particularly his pinot noir, which I would often keep separate from the other growers’ fruit for as long as possible in hopes of making a single vineyard bottling out of it,” Barry told me recently. “Unfortunately, I was always out-voted and it would always get blended with the other lots.”
After Barry left Heron Hill, he kept in touch with Tuller and would “only half-jokingly” him about buying some pinot fruit when he ran into him at industry gatherings and conferences.
“In 2013 his relationship with Heron Hill changed and his fruit became available. I encouraged my then-employers to purchase most of his fruit but purchased some pinot noir and cabernet franc for Barry Family Celalrs as well,” Barry said.
Like I said, Barry didn’t make much of this wine — only two barrels worth. And it sold out in three weeks. But it was good. Really good. Good enough that it was featured by the glass at Manhattan’s best-known gastropub, the Spotted Pig.
Unfortunately, this wine seems unlikely to be made again. Barry didn’t make it in 2014 because “the grapes just didn’t look like they were going to hang on to complete ripeness and they were picked early for sparking.”
This year, another winery is buying all of Tuller’s fruit — except a some riesling that Barry will get to work with.
“I’m super bummed to lose out on this stuff. It’s really difficult to find good quality pinot noir here. It’s either the wrong clones — usually sparking clones — or the grower doesn’t really care about it and treats it like everything else, which doesn’t work for pinot,” he said.
Barry is searching for some pinot this year, but is taking matters into his own hands going forward. The Barry family will plant some of their own on the west side of Seneca Lake in the spring.
With aromas of bright red fruit — raspberry, red cherry and pomegranate — with mushroomy earth notes and just a little forest floor, this is a pinot that really smells like pinot. That’s not as common as you might think.
The palate is lighter bodied and offers a nice balance between red fruit and earthy notes and an underlying spiciness. It isn’t super-complex and it’s doubtful many of those 50 cases will have the time to develop in bottle and show added layers, but it’s soft and silky, with a long finish of pomegranate and spice.
And at $23, it’s no wonder it sold out so quickly.
Producer: Barry Family Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
Grape Blend: 100% pinot noir
Production: 50 cases
Price: $23 (sample)
(3.5 out of 5 | Very Good, Recommended to Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)