Wine: Savor Idaho barrel-tasting events during Thanksgiving week

Barrel Tasting Wines In Idaho's Snake River AVA

Mike McClure of Indian Creek winery in Kuna discusses why Snake River vintners in Idaho participate in barrel tasting events the week of Thanksgiving. For more on the subject visit
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Mike McClure of Indian Creek winery in Kuna discusses why Snake River vintners in Idaho participate in barrel tasting events the week of Thanksgiving. For more on the subject visit

I am looking forward to partaking in Idaho’s barrel tasting festivities, which occupy many times and dates during Thanksgiving week, but especially Nov. 27-29. Earlier this week the Idaho Wine Commission shared a schedule for a series of barrel-tasting events occurring all over the state.

Most of what you will be tasting will be newly bottled 2012 to 2013 vintages, barrel sips perhaps from 2014 vintages — and, no doubt, some surprises and special offers for the weekend. Wines can be aged in the barrel for a few months to a few years depending on the varietals, kinds of barrels and styles each winery offers. Some wines never age in a barrel because the winemaker is not interested in that “oaky” or “vanilla” tasting note, so grapes spend their time in stainless steel or other containers before being bottled.

Barrel tastings are an opportunity to get an early taste of a wine and, based on that, perhaps order a case. This is the “futures market” of wine.

Unless you are a club member of the winery, figure on paying $5 to $15 per person for the experience — though some of that money could be refunded if you purchase wines or become a member during your visit. Wine education, food pairings, outdoor settings and music are often involved in the overall experience.

Readers of last month’s column might remember that my wine-critic friend Mike Dunne tipped me off about his barrel sample of a 2014 Koenig zinfandel — an uncommon varietal in these parts that he felt had great promise. I’ll be checking that one out, and hope you do, too.

If you don’t want to leave town to get your barrel fix, I recommend hitting two locations housing five Garden City wineries on Nov. 27-29.

Split Rail Winery and Syringa Winery, both at 4338 Chinden Blvd. (Syringa is Friday and Saturday only), will be tasting new releases for $10 as well as a barrel tasting from Syringa and concrete-tank tasting from Split Rail. Entrance includes a complimentary GoVino logo glass. Split Rail goes solo on Sunday for $5.

Cinder, Coiled and Telaya, 107 E. 44th St., are teaming up beginning at 11 a.m. for the “Last Hurrah!” all weekend long because Coiled and Telaya will soon move in to their new digs on the Boise River. Tickets for nonmembers are $15 and include a commemorative wine glass.

Since my last column, I have had the opportunity to taste new releases and some old standbys from Coiled, Telaya and Williamson Orchards & Vineyards (19692 Williamson Lane, Caldwell). I could go on about the entire new lineups, but I was especially fond of Coiled’s new 2013 red blend The Minstrel (Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot) under its new Translations label, and Telaya’s new 2013 Petit Verdot — both made with grapes sourced in Washington. These wines will make great additions to holiday tables, as will Williamson’s 2011 Reserve Petite Sirah. I call Petite Sirah the cherry coke of wine because of its front-end fruitiness and back end earthy flavors.

Found on shelves

Before it disappears at $4.99 per bottle, go stock up on 2011/2012 Rhone-style varietals from David Girard Winery (El Dorado County, Calif.) now on sale at the Grocery Outlet (I visited 5544 Fairview Ave., Boise): Viognier/Roussanne blend; a Mourvedre; red blends featuring Syrah/Grenache/Counoise and Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon. I know the winemaker, and you won’t go wrong at this price. Also check out a Four Star Cab for $11. By the way, all area Grocery Outlets are having a 20 percent off sale through Tuesday.

If you would would like to receive email notifications when I spot a good value wine for “Found On Shelves,” email me at Some of these finds might disappear before the next column.

Robert Ehlert: 208-377-6437, @IDS_HelloIdaho