We recently met with Remi Barrett from La Sirena, a small production Napa Valley winery project of Remi’s mother, Heidi Peterson Barrett. Heidi Peterson Barrett and her husband, Bo Barrett, are two of the highest profile and well-respected winemakers in Napa Valley wine history.
Heidi Peterson Barrett made her reputation as a pioneering female winemaker in the 1980s, achieving worldwide fame crafting four Robert Parker 100-point wines for Dalla Valle and Screaming Eagle. Bo Barrett is CEO and winemaker at Napa Valley’s venerable Chateau Montelena. You may have seen Bo Barrett portrayed in the 2008 movie Bottle Shock by the young, stringy-haired actor Chris Pine.
La Sirena started in the mid 1990s by accident when Heidi Barrett Peterson was stuck with a sangiovese she had crafted for a customer who abandoned the project. Heidi bought the wine and after a 30-day scramble to obtain approval for labels and permits, La Sirena was born.
Flash forward to today and Remi Barrett is a nine-year veteran of La Sirena and spends her time in sales and marketing efforts. Like her mother and sister, she attended University of California at Davis, except unlike her sister and mother who studied winemaking, she majored in English Literature and Creative Writing.
Tasting La Sirena wines with Remi was enlightening and the wines were reflective of their breeding. One word of caution though: their fine parentage comes at a cost that some may find prohibitive.
Following are our tasting notes:
- La Sirena Moscato Azul Calistoga Napa Valley 2017 ($37). We guess you should expect the offbeat from a wine making pioneer and she delivers with her take on a dry muscat canelli. Most moscato, as it is commonly known in the market, is sweet and logs in at a low alcohol level of 5-7 percent. La Sirena’s take is a full 13.6 percent alcohol and is vinified in a dry style. Ample ripe fruit notes with scents of flowers define this interesting take on moscato. Try this paired with spicy Asian foods or fatty foods, such as foie gras.
- La Sirena Grenache Napa Valley 2015 ($55). This is a very juicy grenache that features ripe cherry and red raspberry notes in a soft, easy drinking style that grenache lovers will savor.
- La Sirena Malbec Knights Valley Sonoma County 2015 ($67). This is a very good representation of malbec’s potential as a solo player (although it contains 4 percent syrah). Some lesser quality malbec can display a rustic personality, but not this one. Very rich with ripe cherry and plum notes and an alluring herbal touch that works.
- La Sirena Pirate TreasuRed Napa Valley 2015 ($75). Remi told us that her mother stated, “If they can make Prisoner, I can make Pirate” and introduced this red blend that includes cabernet sauvignon, syrah, grenache, merlot, petite verdot, cabernet franc and petite sirah. A very easy drinking wine that features abundant fruit in a somewhat restrained style.
- La Sirena “Le Barrettage” Calistoga 2013 ($97). Barrettage is a takeoff on the Northern Rhone appellation of Hermitage with this red wine crafted from predominantly syrah with a dash of grenache and petite sirah. Made in a distinctive Rhone style with ripe plums, pepper and mocha notes and a hint of minerals.
- La Sirena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2015 ($225). This delicious cabernet sauvignon includes all five of the red Bordeaux varietals. Cassis and cherries with a hint of French oak and eucalyptus creates an elegant classic super premium Napa cabernet sauvignon. Remi told us this cabernet sauvignon can age for at least 20 years.
- Tenuta Sant’ Antonio “Nanfre” Valpolicella DOC 2018 ($15). A young, vibrant wine, this is a blend of 70 percent corvina and 30 percent rondinella. Fresh red berry flavors.
- Caldora Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016 ($12). A great value in from the Abruzzo region of Italy, this simple yet elegant montepulciano has plum flavors and a touch of vanilla. Great wine to pair with pasta, pizza and simple fare.
- Laurent-Perrier Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature ($99). Entirely new from this prestigious Champagne house, the Brut Nature cuvee draws grapes from vineyards in grand and premier villages purchased over the past 15 years. With zero dosage, this dry chardonnay champagne is elegant with fine bubbles, citrus and mineral notes.
- Oblivion Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2017 ($15). A pretty complex wine for the price featuring sweet cherry herbal notes in a smooth rich package.
- Montenero Montecucco Rosso 2016 ($17). Produced in a small appellation near Montalcino in Tuscany, this pleasant expression of sangiovese (90 percent), merlot and cilieglio exhibits easy drinking dried cherry and leather notes in a medium bodied style.
- Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2017 ($30). Anderson Valley is justifiably receiving more attention for their restrained, elegant versions of pinot noir. Located in Mendocino County near the coast this cool climate area produces fine pinot noir that tends to be lower in alcohol and featuring less jammy fruit than some of their more southern cousins. This version by Kendall-Jackson offers delicious strawberry and plum notes and light tannins in a very easy to drink style and affordable style.
- Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley 2016 ($39). We’ve always thought that Charles Krug wines over-delivered for the consumer. This cabernet sauvignon is no exception. Black cherry, cassis and a hint of mocha present a very drinkable red wine for the price.
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Tom Marquardt (email for questions) and Patrick Darr have been writing a wine column since 1985. They’ve traveled extensively to vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the U.S.
Tom lives in Florida with his wife, Sue, where he conducts wine tastings. Patrick is in the wine retail business in Annapolis, Md.