One of the big players in Woodinville in the past few years has been Baer. In a tragic story, the founder of Baer winery, Lance Baer, passed away at age 39 in 2007. While Lance produced some extraordinary red wines while he was still alive, he sadly was not able to see his most famous wine, Ursa, get named as one of the Wine Spectator Top 100 wines (#6 on the Top 100) for their 2008 effort. Scoring 95 points from Wine Spectator really put Baer on the map, as they began selling out of their wines almost immediately following their top 100 showing.
Baer focuses on the art of blending and their Ursa is one of my favorite Washington red blends every year. Ursa is a Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend, made in a lighter, and more feminine style, while having the structure to last for many years. The fruit is all from the Stillwater Creek vineyard, producer of some of the best Merlot, Cabernet, Cab Franc, and Chardonnay in the state. Baer's efforts for their 2011 wines were excellent, considering that the vintage was not the best.
A visit to their small, unpretentious tasting room in Woodinville’s warehouse district shouldn’t be missed. Baer is currently pouring their fantastic red blends, as well as a very good unoaked Chardonnay that they began crafting a few years back. Baer keeps their production small, so they regularly run out of their more popular blends, such as the Ursa and Arctos. Here are some of the great Baer wines that I recently tried at their tasting room.
2013 Shard- Lemon zest and pear on the nose. Unoaked. Palate has golden delicious and pear. Finishes slightly sour. Nice minerality, 448 cases made. -89
2011 Star- 81% Merlot, 11% Cab Franc and 8% Cab. Impressive nose consisting the vintage. Red cherry and cherry tomato on the nose. Palate has nice richness. Blackberry, black cherry and anise. Coffee and tar nodes. -93
2011 Arctos- 70% Cabernet, 10% Cab Franc, 10% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Cabernet dominant nose with red bell pepper. Palate has blackberry, anise and cedar. Fruit has shut down and the wine needs at least two years of cellaring. -91
2010 Callisto- This is the second vintage of this wine. 100% French oak and 65% new oak. This wine is 77% Cabernet, 13% Cab Franc and 10% Merlot. Nose has red bell pepper and anise. Palate has blackberry, black cherry and coffee. Delicious, ready to drink, and complex. -93