Barrel Oak Winery Review
Address: 3623 Grove Lane Delaplane,Virginia 20144.
Phone Number: 540-364-6402
Tasting Hours: May-Nov: Mon-Thurs 11:00-6:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-9:00, Sun 10:00-6:00; Dec-Apr: Sat, Mon-Thurs 11:00-6:00, Fri 11:00-9:00, Sun 10:00-6:00
Region: Middleburg Virginia AVA, Virginia
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
Review Date: 4/6/2013
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
After a few trips to Barrel Oak over the early days of my blog and progression of my palate, it was time for us to take a trip out to test the latest offerings. Sitting high in Delaplane on a hillside in the gorgeous Piedmont countryside, Barrel Oak presents one of the top family and kid friendly wineries in the United States (according to Wine Enthusiast). The atmosphere at the winery supports this claim with children and dogs roaming the tasting room and stampeding around the property while parents have the opportunity to taste at one of the tasting bars downstairs or upstairs. On sunny Spring days, one would often see children flying kites high up on the hill. Most of the parking is along the road heading up towards the tasting room, which is going to be absolutely packed on a Saturday, so be sure to get there early. The outdoors features a very large patio to accommodate the large crowds that features food services occasionally. With the new Fauquier County regulations, Im not sure if thats an option at all anymore.
As you are led down the crushed stone driveway to the walkway to the door, you arrive at the tasting room that features a large area of tables immediately as you enter the door with live entertainment in the corner and the check-out register immediately to the right. The large 30-ish person bar is a half circle and takes up the majority of the back wall. To your immediate right are some large screen TVs and tables that line the pathway to the outdoor patios with some rest rooms on your right along the way. The staircase to the upper part of the tasting room is just to the left of the rear patio exit and leads you to the overflow tasting room where there is another tasting bar. There are also small tables that line the railing so patrons can enjoy a glass or snack overlooking the tasting room and entertainment below. The outdoor patio has fire pits and patio tables scattered about that can easily accommodate 40-50 people. Overall, a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere with a great view. The tasting room is also open until 9 PM Friday and Saturday nights, which is a rarity for wineries in Virginia.
The overall ideology of the winery, even before opening, has always been to create a community place. Barrel Oak opened their doors to attract active hikers, local families, and dogs, and they have more than achieved their goals with people flooding the property every weekend. Each weekend day has some sort of event or entertainment to provide patrons with the most friendly, welcoming, and relaxing environment to enjoy a glass of Virginia wine. Barrel Oak owners, Brian Roeder and his wife Sharon, often hold charity events for various associations and groups to help offer a helping hand in any way they can.
The property contains approximately 22 acres of vines containing varieties, such as Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Traminette, Chambourcin, and newly planted Norton. The winery has a very loose mood, allowing you to help yourself to a tour of the near 20,000 vines on the property, asking that you simply close the gate behind you or even the production room in the basement. Im telling you I’ve toured many wineries and these rules are just unheard of…in a good way! They offer two labels on their wines – the Barrel Oak Wines and the Chief Justice Cellars label. The Chief Justice Cellars label was created as a homage to John Marshall, who was a native Fauquier County resident and long tenured Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The family owns Marshalls home at the Oak Hill Estate and offers a very special experience for serious wine lovers.
“The John Marshall Tasting Experience offers our guests the unique opportunity to try rare wines in a historic country setting. Our wine list not only includes our signature label, Chief Justice Cellars, but a sampling from the best wines that Virginia and indeed the entire world has to offer. Each select wine will be paired with an entirely unique food item designed to bring out the extraordinary impact of each vintage. This curated collection of wines juxtaposes, compares and contrasts New World winemaking styles with those of the Old World.” -Barrel Oak Winery
Generally, I enjoy doing most of my tastings in Virginia towards the Fall or Spring, when the crowds are not as large, and I have more time to reflect on what I am tasting. This particular visit was tough to get a nose on a lot of the wines because of the fireplace-smoke filled air. While the nose wasn’t as accurate as I would have liked, I was still able to get a good tasting of just what they are offering. We decided to take part in their full tasting, which included all 12 wines for $11, opposed to choosing either the white or red flights of 6 wines for $6. My favorites wines from the tasting are featured here, and the rest of the wines from my tasting sheet are at the conclusion of the article. To start my favorites list, I begin with the 2011 Traminette ($21)… PAUSE. The reason I say pause is I am generally not a fan of Traminette, as it is usually overpowering with too much floral and lychee qualities and is often ill-produced in Virginia giving off what I like to call “Skunk Nose.” This wine was quite the opposite. Yes, it was very floral on the nose, but it offered a nice balance of floral notes with spice and fresh cut flowers throughout, finishing fresh and herbacious.
The 2011 Barrel Chardonnay ($28) was another treat. Fresh apple and a touch of vanilla meet the nose with a supple round mouth feel providing the typical buttery creamy texture dashing flavors of apple and pear in and out across the palate. The fruit flavors taper off towards the finish leaving you with butterscotch and a creamy mouth feel lingering into the finish.
On the red side, the highlights had to be the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc ($38) and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon ($37). The Reserve Cabernet Franc offers a back and forth show and tell of fresh ripe cherry, plum and bell peppers that seem to alternate from the nose to the finish adding a zesty ground pepper finish for good measure. Approachable and pleasing the senses from start to finish. Concluding, we were treated with a pour of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon with a nose full of floral and plum notes that offered much of the same on the palate with a plethora of subtle dark fruit with notes of toasted oak that builds towards the finish and closes out with soft tannins.
My personal preference is peace and tranquility, which doesn’t include children and dogs, but for those who enjoy the pet friendly, open-armed family approach to their wine experience, this place is for you.
Tasting Notes: BOWHaus White 2011 ($24): sulfered nose, crisp acidity, minerality on the palate with a clean crisp finish
Seyval Blanc 2011 ($22): citrus explosion on the nose, light lemon and lime notes on the palate finishing dry
Petit Manseng 2011 ($28): neutral nose (faint tropical notes), adding minerality on the palate finishing with a touch of tropical fruit and bright acidity to tone down the sweetness
Late Harvest Vidal Blanc 2011 ($29): honeysuckle, tropical fruit and apricot dominate the flavor profile, while I was only able to get sulfur on the nose
BOWHaus Red 2011 ($26): more of that S word on the nose (again, maybe it attributed to the fireplace fumes) with rose petal notes adding a touch of cranberry and strawberry flavors on the palate finishing crisp and semi-sweet
Tourga Franc 2011 ($29): cedar, wild berries, and light vinegar nose offering some spicy cherry flavors finishing with zesty spice (bubbles left behind in the glass, possibly a bad bottle?)
Merlot 2010 ($29): berry aromas with tart cherry and blackberries on the palate, finishing with pepper notes up towards the back of the palate and fades very quickly
Norton 2011 ($30): sweetness, candied plum and bittersweet chocolate leading to sweet raspberry flavors tapering off with candied berries dominating the finish, with a light dab of spice
Chocolate Lab ($34): semi-sweet chocolate and cherry from start until finish (very low alcohol for a port style)