Tom's blog

Winemaking can be a barrel of fun

What's with all of bourbon-barrel wines on the market? It seems like we have a new trend afoot. In recent weeks, I've see four bottles of wine aged in old bourbon barrels. 

Actually, in the '70s, only the big wineries like Robert Mondavi had the money to invest in French oak. The other fledgling producers turned to former bourbon barrels because they were a lot cheaper. However, as quality became more important, everyone was buying French oak and charging customers for it.

Fetzer was the first to re-introduce ex-bourbon barrels to its 1000 Stories Zinfandel. The wine is first aged in American and French oak, and then finished with a few months in bourbon barrels. Winemaker Bob Blue says the bourbon barrels give the wine a smoky statement,

Other red wines aged in ex-bourbon barrels include Stave & Steel Cabernet Sauvignon and Four Virtues Zinfandel.

And, as if bourbon barrels isn't enough to throw us out of whack, Cooper & Thief is aging its sauvignon blanc in former tequila barrrels. It is probably the strangest sauvignon blanc I've ever tasted. Whether that's good or bad, you have to decide.

The bourbon-barrel reds I've tasted so far tend to be heavy on the vanilla, but that could come from the American oak too. 

If you've got a guy in the family who likes  his bourbon but not necessarily wine, here's a gift idea for Father's Day to help him in the transition.