It was tasting night at The Barrel, and we were headed out for wine.
We had been trying to get in for a tasting since November, but every call to owner Jeff Headley revealed his newly opened wine space adjacent to Park Creek Kitchen, was booked up with a holiday party or wedding rehearsal.
It was a good problem for him to have, but it also meant that when space opened up, man or nature could not deter us.
Tucked on Arlington Avenue off Upper Arlington’s beaten track, The Barrel is a hidden treasure amid a recently completed renovation that opened up ample parking and stylish exteriors.
We made our way through the restaurant to the bar, where Nathan Krohn of Glazer’s beer and wine distributors awaited with his eclectic samples.
While Jeff plied us with baskets of truffle infused popcorn with parmesan cheese, Nathan told us diversification was the theme for the night, and poured with no clear theme, but a great deal of purpose.
He started us swilling with the Bastianich Adtriatico Pinot Grigio, deceptively full-bodied compared to other bottles of the same varietal. Unlike other pinot grigios, this one had a brief dalliance with the grape skins, providing it with darker coloring and a quite strength, as it radiated scents of apples and pears.
After Jeff arrived with toasted Saint-Andres cheese with fresh crostini, we next dove next into Sea Glass Wines’ sauvignon blanc, while Nathan explained the taste explosion that comes from pairing light wines and salty food.
Sea glass, made by the Trinchero family of Sutter Home fame—and great Napa Valley benefactors—was light and refreshing, with a splash of grapefruit essence grapefruit.
One of the best parts of the night was the wine education offered by Nathan, who was informative without being overwhelming, and had the gift of inspiring questions without making the asker feel like a novice.
We learned from him about fermentation “on the lees”—where wine earns its extra body by staying in contact with the yeasty sediment from the wine making process—and tasted it in the Domaine Lafage’s Novellum French chardonnay.
We discovered the business plan behind Cameron Hughes Lott 344, a buy-up of Napa Valley surplus, relabeled to provide quality at a discounted price
We talked over the benefits of Lodi’s hot growing climate on the Peirano Estates Six Clones Merlot (while snacking on chips with goat cheese and scallions), before capping the night with the Red Rock Malbec, which was full and fruity with black cherry, cocoa.
Between the snacks, the information and the pours, the $20 fee already seemed a bargain, but then Jeff topped us off with a glass of our choosing, and our small, select session became a personalized party.
The Barrel at Park Creek is open Monday through Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m., but the tasting is held only the third Monday of every month.
Even if it’s sleeting outside, or your tired, or the roadways are a mess, it is certainly worth the trip.