Barrel Tasting a Wine-Lover’s Delight

Barrel tasting

Barrel tasting in St. Helena, CA

One of the events that every true wine enthusiast wants to get a ticket to is a barrel tasting at a Napa Valley winery. A barrel tasting is a lot like other wine tastings, with the difference that all the wines come straight from the barrel. Here you can taste the results of last year’s grape harvest at its earliest stage and try to make a guess as to how good the wine will be when it’s judged ready to be sold. Barrel tastings are usually held in the spring or summer, when the weather is good and long before the vineyard is busy with this year’s harvest. If you’re starting your own wine collection, you’ll definitely want to attend some barrel tastings and find out what you should be saving room for.

One thing you might be able to do at a best barrel tasting is buy a wine future at a discount. A wine future is a lot like any other futures contract — you agree to buy a certain number of bottles of wine when the wine has been bottled. By committing yourself to the purchase ahead of time, you save a lot of money on the wine.

Wine clubs hold barrel tastings

Wine clubs like the Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards wine club often hold barrel tastings. This is one of the benefits of joining such a club.

When you’re going to a barrel tasting, keep in mind the usual rules of wine-tasting functions. Don’t wear strong-smelling perfume or cologne. Remember that this isn’t a bar. Don’t drink too much, especially if you’re going to more than one vineyard and they aren’t serving food. A designated driver might also be a good idea, just in case. When in doubt, try something you’ve never tried before.

Barrel tastings at a St. Helena vineyard

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, holds tastings in its barrel caves, where current releases and library wines may be sampled. Tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase.

An example of a library wine that might be available at an Anderson’s Conn Valley wine tasting is the 2009 Èloge. This dark ruby red wine, born from a particularly mild year, has a deep, full, layered aroma of cedar, cigar box and crème de cassis, with hints of red currant, violets, spice and toast. Its flavor is deep, full and layered, tasting of concentrated dark fruit, spice and mocha.

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. Club members save $25 on the ’12 Èloge. Join today.