Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bartlett Maine Estate Winery



My brother-in-law Michael, and his wife Jill, live in Maine with their three Golden Retreivers. And over the years, we have gone up to visit them. A few trips in summer, a Christmas or two. We've taken in a Seadogs game, bought antiques, shopped in Portland and L.L. bean's, and taken a boat ride up the Kennebec River. And of course, when we're up there, or when they are coming down, I always satisfy my fix for Maine wines, some of which are very good.

The most notable winery, to me, was also the first. Founded by Robert and Kathe Bartlett in 1982 Bartlett Maine Estate Winery was Maine's first winery. Nestled in a quiet wooded setting enhanced by gardens, the tasting room allows for a relaxed appreciation of the many internationally recognized wines produced here from Maine grown fruits.

The Bartlett's make some excellent wines. The other night, I pulled out a bottle of Pear Dry, an exceptional, lemony white wine, with great fruit flavors, but not sweet at all. Slightly oaked, it is very much like an exquisite sauveignon blanc. It is a shock every time we serve it to newcomers. Even the biggest wine snobs are always impressed by this wine.

Because of Maine's harsh climate, grapes are hard to grow. The Bartletts decided to make fruit wines, and they are the premiere maker of such wines...no matter where you are. And the packaging is incredible.

"The Bartlett bottles are adorned with unique labels depicting old Victorian era designs of fruit and flowers. This smart packaging contributes to the overall air of sophistication surrounding the wines," wrote Abagail Ingalls in the June, 2005 issue of Beverage Magazine. That's why they make great gifts, especially around the holidays...it shows good taste in so many ways.

"The Bartlett wines go wonderfully with food. Some popular pairings are: Oak Dry Blueberry with assorted cheeses and herb-crusted lamb," Ingalls wrote. "The French Oak Pear pairs very well with pork tenderloin and parsnips or a beet and walnut salad with baby spinach and dried cranberries."

I have always thought that if the Bartletts made the same wines but were located on Long Island or in the Finger Lakes, their brand would be a much higher profile product. Ah, well. Now that the interstate shipping laws are starting to come down, this is one of the wineries we hope makes huge strides....because the quality is incredible.

The wines can be found in some of the better wine shops throughout Maine (we've had luck finding them in downtown Portland shops)and of course at the winery in Gouldsboro. Try the Pear Dry and the Blueberry Dry, as well as many of their other wonderful dessert wines. This is a wonderful winery!

To read more about Robert and Kathe, see this article:
http://www.beveragebusiness.com/bbcontent/art98/ingalls0605.html