Friday, September 7, 2018

Does Zinfandel Stand-up To Bourbon Barrels? by Philip S. Kampe


So you love Zindandel and you drink whiskey.

What do the two have in common?

In reality, very little, but in today’s experimental world of winemakers, much like my old profession of ice cream making (Fabulous Phil’s), experimentation is like a science experiment.

Ask California’s !000 Stories winemaker, Bob Blue, about experimentation and wine barrels and he will tell you, ‘ that years ago, wine barrels were not widely available. American oak barrels were for whiskey, not wine. But, we still needed barrels to age our wine. We purchased and neutralized used bourbon barrels. As time passed, instead of neutralizing the unique nuances of the bourbon barrels, we use them to enhance the complexity of the wine’.

In the past ten years, a small group of winemakers now age their wine only in used spirits barrels. The trend has grown, as the  consumers who appreciate the extra nuances welcome the variety in the marketplace.

Zinfandel loves bourbon barrels.

Zinfandel is a very hearty grape that can successfully take on the nuances of a bourbon barrel. If done correctly, the mingling of the two flavors is like a marriage made in heaven.

I sampled a couple of bottles yesterday and came to the realization that each bourbon barrel adds another dimension to a well made Zinfandel.

Sampling the two wines:
1000 Stories, California Zinfandel 2016
 Batch #42 & Batch #47.
Alcohol: Batch #42  15.0%
Batch #47  15.5%
Under $20

The bourbon bled through the Zinfandel in both instances. An obvious burnt vanilla with pepper spice was the undertone of flavor that married with the fruity varietal. I was beginning to get it and to understand that you have to get it right to work correctly. It is like ‘Hit or Miss?’.

Looks like 1000 Stories got it right.

Philip S. Kampe

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