Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Barrel Room Rolls Out New Wine Concepts – Hosts Laird Family Estate

by Frank Mangio
It’s customer first for the many happy guests who have discovered all there is to know about The Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo, a vintage wine bar and bistro that is raising the bar skyward with some grand plans for the future. They started the year our right by bringing in the legendary Laird Family Estate from Napa Valley. The last time I saw Rebecca Laird she was holding court in Del Mar at a dinner years ago. She hasn’t aged a bit but her wines have. Laird wines are simply in great demand, especially from other wineries. Confusing you say?  Not really.

 Rebecca Laird brought her brilliant Napa Valley wines to The Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo.  She is shown with GM Brett Preston and Exec Chef Trevor Chappell.

After founding Laird in 1970 by buying 200 acres, her father Ken Laird and his wife enlisted the help of the one and only Robert Mondavi. He mentored them to specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.  The first few years, they did 3,000 cases, and in the boom in production in the valley that followed, wineries were coming to them to buy all the grapes they could produce. Today, the Laird empire owns 2,400 acres with 40 vineyards. They count the legendary winemaker Paul Hobbs and Merryvale/Starmont as star customers for their grapes.

I asked her about all the rain this season and the affect on the grapes. “This season the rain has been vey beneficial for the grapes, but”…she hesitated.  “Any more rain, we may have a big problem with the crop.” She wound up the presentation at The Barrel Room with a vertical flight of three years worth of her Jillian’s Blend of Cab, Merlot, Syrah and Petite Verdot:  2011, 2012 and 2013. My vote went to the 2013, a carefully prepared vintage with subtle, elegantly mixed grapes. Most of the rest of the room thought so too.

I didn’t know a lot about the Barrel Room until I witnessed the professionalism and the fun of the Laird wine dinner. The team has worked hard to make it a retail wine shop, a wine bar, full casual dining restaurant, and I would add, a source of memorable wine dinners.

The Barrel Room Executive Chef Trevor Chappell offered a main entrée of Oxtail Terrine, Espresso Elk Striploin and Braised Short Rib, to go with the vertical wine threesome of Laird Jillian’s Blend.

To match the Laird offering of a 3 vintage vertical tasting of their most popular blend, The Barrel Room came up with 3 connected entrees:  an Oxtail Terrine, an Espresso Elk Striploin and a Braised Rib. The next extraordinary wine dinner is scheduled for Tuesday March 21st at 6pm.  It’s a 90+ point Argentina Wine Dinner with Marcos Mizzau, a wine expert from the country.  He will showcase the diversity of Malbec, the signature wine from Argentina . Cost is $75. per guest.  RSVP at 858-673-7512.

I sat down with the GM, Brett Preston, who enthusiastically revealed plans for an expansion into Carmel Valley soon.  “Our new location will have a full bar, amazing patio dining and a sister concept, Brother’s Provisions, next door.  Another restaurant is close to opening.  It will be called Urge Common House and is a full service restaurant, brewery and bowling alley.”  He also confirmed that “all of our 250 + wines at The Barrel Room are also sold for guests that want to buy them for take home purchase, at a discounted price.”

The Barrel Room is in The Plaza, off Bernardo Center Drive , just east of the I-15.  Find out more at TBRSD.COM.

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