Star winemaker makes an impression in Margate

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Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena Vineyard in Calistoga, Calif. came to Margate for a special wine pairing at Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay June 21. Barrett, left, is with Steve and Cookie’s owner Cookie Till, and Adam Stromfeld, owner of Joe Canal’s in Egg Harbor Township.

MARGATE – His wine is the stuff of movies. Bo Barrett, a NapaValley vintner of Chateau Montelena wine, made a quick stop in Margate June 21 at a special dinner and wine pairing at Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay and sponsored by Joe Canal’s of Egg Harbor Township. The event was a beautiful outdoor dining venue with 60 guests to share some of his wine and talk about what his winery has done to make the French sit up and take notice of California wines.

In 1976 a blind taste test of chardonnays with seven French judges it was the Chateau Montelena that took first place over the French wines; something previously unthinkable.

“The most important thing in winemaking is balance,” Barrett said. “It is a balance of art, farming and science that allows us to make consistently great wines.”

He said that many of the American wine makers will add to their wines in order to create strong flavors, while Chateau Montelena takes a slower approach and the flavors are more delicate, much like the French.

The 2008 film, “Bottle Shock,” about that 1976 taste test that put California wineries on the map, was introduced at Cannes.

“Chateau Montelena turned the wine world on its ear,” said Cookie Till, owner of Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay in Margate. “He developed a California wine that is much more like French wine.”

Adam Stromfeld, one of the owners of Joe Canal’s in Egg Harbor Township, said the wine makes food better.

“Chateau Montelena is a more earth-driven wine and is meant to be enjoyed with food,” Stromfeld said. “Not that it is not wonderful to just enjoy a glass, but it is wine that enhances the food it is paired with.”

The shop owner added that while his business is selling wine, he really enjoys talking about wine and the dinner held at Steve and Cookie’s was a great opportunity for a group of people to enjoy doing just that.

Stromfeld said Barrett is a star in wine circles.

“He is a farmer and an innovator and it is easy to be a little star struck when you meet him, but he is such a down-to-earth guy,” Stromfeld said. “He arrived here early in the morning, enjoyed a fishing trip, the dinner and was back to California on the red eye the next morning.”

The beneficiary of the evening’s pairing was Till’s, A Work in Progress, a grass roots effort to introduce gardens to the Boys and Girls Club and the Spray Avenue garden in Atlantic City.

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