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About this Episode

Michaela Quinlan, certified sommelier, and Robert Tas review the wine list at Barberian's Steakhouse. With over 100 pages, this list is a who’s who of top producers, and in nearly every vintage. This could be Canada's most stunning wine cellar, with more than 15,000 bottles from the world's greatest vineyards, and all to complement top-grade, dry-aged steaks that are butchered in-house.

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2016 Sacred Hill, Riflemans Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

  • 2010 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, Reserva, Rioja, Spain

  • 2018 Chappellet Signature from Napa Valley, California


Transcript: Barberians


RT: Hello and welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where, in each episode, we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Michaela Quinlan, certified sommelier.

Hello Michaela, it’s great to be back together for another episode.

MQ: Hi Robert!

RT: Before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules.

We created CorkRules to demystify wine lists because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.


RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list.

RT: Today we are talking about Barberian’s Steakhouse. This family-run Toronto steakhouse has been in business since 1959. The classic menu, comfortable dining room, private dining in their extensive wine cellar, and many displays by local artists, make Barbarian’s a must-visit.

Michaela, I can’t wait to hear what do you think of their wine list?

MQ: If you are looking for a who’s who of top producers, and in nearly every vintage, you have come to the right place. With over 100 pages to peruse, there is certainly something for all palates.

RT: That’s really great, as you looked at the list did you see anything jump out at you?

MQ: Where to begin? Let’s start with the 2016 Sacred Hill, Riflemans Chardonnay from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. This well-balanced white wine features bright acidity, lemon zest, ripe pear and green apple, along with notes of vanilla and cinnamon on the creamy, round finish. Consider this oaked Chardonnay when pairing with rich fish such as tuna, or richly sauced and herbed chicken.

RT: That is for sure unique. Did you find any others that caught your eye right away?

MQ: If you are considering classic, steakhouse fare, the 2019 Anthill Farms Syrah from the Sonoma Coast of California is a winner. I love the Syrah from Anthill Farms, as it showcases ripe cranberries, black pepper, and spice. The balance of bright acidity and ripe, round tannins allow this standout red to stand up to steaks and pork chops.

RT: So Michaela, their list seems to have lots of range but was there anything that you would say is a “must-try”?

MQ: Another must-try wine is the 2010 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, Reserva from Rioja Spain. The Lopez de Heredia family began creating age-worthy wine around 1877 becoming one of the first three wineries in Rioja. This 97-point rated Tempranillo blend features ripe, red cherries, plumb, dried flowers, ripe tannins, with notes of earth and vanilla on the finish. We know this wine has aged in oak, as it notes the Reserva designation, where the wine ages for a minimum of three years, with at least 12 months in oak. Again, we can thank Spain for aging this beautiful wine for us, as it is certainly ready to enjoy with all the steakhouse classics.

RT: These are some great calls. So, you know I’m getting thirsty and will need to order a bottle with my dinner, where would you guide us?

MQ: Have I mentioned there are many, many stand-out wines on this list? Another, bold, rich, red wine to consider to pair with all steakhouse fare is the  2018 Chappellet Signature from Napa Valley, California. This organic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec showcases aromas and flavors of ripe blackberries, plumb, fig, and cassis, with notes of cedar, smoke, and nutmeg on the lingering finish. A Classic Napa wine for richly sauced proteins and pasta.

RT: Ooh, Terrific. Michaela, speaking of price, sometimes people have a budget in mind, any other great value wines you’d point us to? 

MQ: A bone-dry, medium-bodied white wine of excellent quality and value is the 2014 Domaine Gardies, Mas Las Cabes Blanc from the Languedoc region of France. This Muscat Blanc features aromas of white flowers, lemon and lime zest, tangerine, and apricot, with a mineral finish. Enjoy this white wine with lightly sauced proteins, grilled vegetables, and cheese.

RT: That sounds great. What is your other value selection?

MQ: Next we have an incredible Italian red wine of excellent value for your consideration. The 2015 Arnaldo-Caprai, Montefalco Rosso from Umbria. This stand out blend of Sangiovese, Sagrantino, and Merlot is rich, full bodied, and features ripe blackberries, white pepper, sage, and lavender, with notes of vanilla on the lingering finish. Pair this quality/value red with herbed proteins.

RT: Now Michaela, what if I have a big client dinner or special occasion where I want to take it up a notch?

MQ: With so many remarkable wines on this list, you can certainly find multiple options to take your dining experience to the next level. Staying true to my favorite regions and varietals, consider the  2008 Quintarelli Cabernet Franc Alzero from the Veneto of Italy. Rated 95 points by the Wine Advocate, this wine was first produced in 1983 and has yet to ship a vintage. The process of making this wine is similar to Amarone by allowing the grapes to dry prior to extended oak aging. This result is rich flavors of dried fig and prune, with notes of raisin, earth, and vanilla on the long finish. The round tannins add to the pleasure of this wine. Certainly, pair this exceptional bottle with all steakhouse favorites and any special occasion.

RT: Michaela Thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Barberian’s wine list. I can’t wait to go try them myself.  

To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.

If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@CorkRules.Com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. 

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.


Thank you.








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