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Revisiting the 2009 Baer, Ursa

December 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Several years ago I estimated that the 2009 Baer Winery, Ursa, Columbia Valley could be drunk with pleasure  this year.  While the wine has gained some suppleness it still plays it close.  It shows some bottle age with the floral aspects replaced by leather but the wine largely remains tight.  There is still a good core of fruit with balanced acidity and structure so why not cellar it a few more years!


2009 Baer Winery, Ursa, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 38% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Malbec which was aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed sweaty leather aromas which made way to a tight but slowly loosening core of black fruit that is wrapped around a dose of fine, drying tannins.  Tasted over many hours this wine oscillates in openness.  At time it does show some suppleness with cola like spices, other times the structure is evident with cinnamon spices, coffee, and a spicy tannic finish.  ***(*) 2019-2026.


Trying the Concentrated 2009 Baer Winery, Ursa

During my recent Seattle trip I was excited to find bottles of 2009 Baer Winery, Ursa at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake.  I have previously posted about Baer Winery and have been fortunate to drink a few bottles of the sauvage 2007 and the rippling 2008.  The 2008 received 95 points from Wine Spectator and was 6th in their top 100 wines for 2011.  So after letting the bottle settle in our basement I pulled the cork.  This vintage shows a shift with Cabernet Franc becoming the prime varietal and Petit Verdot disappearing from the blend.  Curious about the change I emailed Lisa Baer.  She responded that “our aim is to create blends that are consistently delicious and distinctive.”  The Ursa always contains both Merlot and Cabernet Franc complemented by other Bordeaux varietals which are always sourced from Stillwater Creek Vineyard.  The proportions are freely changed each year because they “blend it to a flavor profile,  until it tastes like ‘Ursa.'”.

Having now drunk my fourth vintage of Ursa I think it again tastes great.  While drinkable now the 2009 vintage will require more age to open up than previous vintages.  So if you manage to find a few bottles then I highly recommend you cellar them for the short-term.

2009 Baer Winery,  Ursa, Columbia Valley – $38
This wine is 44% Cabernet Franc, 38% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Malbec which was aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak.  The nose was subdued with low-lying fruit.  In the mouth there are gentle, concentrated floral black fruit flavors.  There is an understated violet component along with ripe, finely textured tannins which play a supporting role.  With air there is some spice along with a purple, inky flavor but the wine still plays it close.  This will benefit from short-term cellaring.  ***(*) 2015-2022.

2007 and 2008 Baer Winery, Ursa

These wines are quite tasty with the 2007 showing a rustic side and the 2008 steps things up by showing beautifully integrated, rippling flavors.  The Ursa is available for $32-$35 per bottle and is fairly priced for the effort.

2007 Baer Winery, Ursa, Columbia Valley
This wine is 44% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest Malbec and Petit Verdot.  This wine has a light nose of assertive, red fruit.  In the mouth there are ripe, sauvage, flavors of blue fruits mixed with some new oak influences.  There is a creamy texture to the wild flavors that then turn towards blue fruits with dusty herbs.  Some heat escapes in the finish.  After two hours of air the wine settles down and softens up with sweet spices, ample sweet cinnamon, followed up by a somewhat coarse finish.  ***(*) Now-2015.

2008 Baer Winery, Ursa, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 53% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot.  It was aged for 19 months in 80% new French oak.  There were 1095 cases produced.  This wine sported a light nose of brooding black and red fruit.  In the mouth there are dark, rippling flavors of blue and red fruits.  This medium+ bodied wine has ample sweet spices, textured flavors of incense, and a vein of acidity running throughout.  After two hours of air it show lovely, sweet spiced fruit that was well-integrated with the acidity and tannins.  If you drink it now make sure you decant the wine for two hours.  Personally, I would cellar this for one year before trying again.  ***(*) 2014-2019.

Baer Winery

The Entrance

I was first introduced to the Baer Winery a couple of years ago when Julia and Clark opened up a bottle of 2006 Ursa.  I rather enjoyed it so on a later trip I drank one bottle of the 2007 Ursa and brought another bottle back home.  Knowing that I would be in Seattle this month I opened that sole bottle of 2007 Ursa before my trip.  It too was delicious.  I always planned on stopping by Baer during my Woodinville visit.   However, when I asked around for recommendations everyone suggested Baer but forewarned me they might be sold out of everything. It is considered an up and coming winery so it was interesting to receive the recommendations.

The Tasting Room

When I walked into the tasting room Lisa Baer was pouring wine.  She explained that the 2008 Ursa was sold out but they still had the 2010 Shard and 2008 Arctos.  Wine Spectator pre-released the scores for their wines and the 2008 Ursa received a huge 95 Points!  I believe the Arctos received 91 points.  I was a bit bummed because I wanted to return home with some Ursa.  Fortunately, there is a supply in the distribution chain so using the list of stores that carry Baer Wines I was able to bring a few bottles home.


Baer Winery was founded in 2000 by Lance Baer.  From the initial release of 200 cases of Ursa in 2003, the winery has switched properties, introduced two more wines, and in 2007 settled in the Woodinville warehouse area.  The current production lies at 2,000 cases per year but may grow up to 2,500 cases per year.  Lance sadly passed away in 2007 leavint the winery to be owned and run by father Les and sister Lisa.  The grapes are exclusively sourced from Stillwater Creek Vineyard in the Columbia Valley.

Stainless Steel Barrels for the Shard

Following the tasting I was given a tour of the production area.  Every square foot of space is used.  I even spied cases of 2008 Ursa waiting for a distributor to pick it up!

New Barrels from Tonnellerie Sylvain

My follow-up post will contain my notes on the 2007 and 2008 Ursa.

Pallets of Wine (including Ursa) and Barrels

2010 Shard, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard.  It was fermented and aged in 75 gallon Stainless Steel barrels.  There were 432 cases produced.  This was bottled less than three weeks prior to my tasting.  There is a good nose of grass and stones.  In the mouth there were flavors of white stone fruits, apples, in this crisp wine.  Not Rated.

2008 Arctos, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot.  The grapes were sourced from Stillwater Creek Vineyard.  It was aged for 19 months in 80% new French oak.  There is a good nose keeping the character of the winery with inky, dark purple fruits.  This is youthful compared to the Ursa with a savory quality to the dark fruit, “bay leaf”, and subtle, tasty tannic flavors.  I would personally cellar this for a couple of years.  Not Rated.

New Corks