With bold flavors (and high alcohol content) these selections will help warm you up this fall
Beringer Bros. Tequila Barrel Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Napa Valley, California, $11
Jacob and Frederick Beringer started their winery 150 years ago, and this latest example revives their tradition of maturing wines in spirit barrels. 20 percent of the wine is aged for 60 days in charred barrels which previously aged tequila. This Sauvignon Blanc offers aromas of bright citrus and fresh herbs with brisk acidity. The taste is lush and smooth with tart lemon, herbal notes and a long finish. As with the other barrel fermented wines, this one brings high alcohol at 15.1 percent.
Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Bourbon Barrel Aged 2017
Monterey County, California, $13
The first of its kind and another outstanding example from the talented wine makers at the legendary Robert Mondavi Winery. This 14.5 percent alcohol wine is full of creamy layers of peach and pineapple. New barrels add a toasty note and old barrels bring hints of oak and baking spices. Throughout the palate you taste caramel, toffee and vanilla with bright acidity. The lingering finish comes with a bit of spice due to the barrel aging. They also make a Rum Barrel Aged Merlot.
Curmudgeon Red Blend 2017
Parlier, California, $15
Bottled in a unique package, fermented in stainless steel and then aged for three months in Kentucky bourbon barrels, this deep ruby colored blend is described as “cantankerous” and “ill-tempered.” The aromas are blackberry, dark chocolate and leather. It’s a bold blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Petite Verdot that fills your palate with flavors of caramel and baking spices. A bit of subtle heat at 15.9 percent alcohol. Enjoy with grilled meats.
Cooper & Thief Red Blend 2016
Lodi, California, $26
This red blend is dark and jammy, with bourbon inspired flavors and aromas. Aging for three months in bourbon barrels gives way to soft, velvety tannins with a whopping 17 percent alcohol. The grapes are sourced from several wine regions and make up the blend of 75 percent Merlot and Syrah, with lesser amounts of six other grapes. The result is a complex wine, with a rich flavor and an extended finish. Best with barbeque and grilled meat dishes.
Stave & Steel Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Paso Robles, California, $18
To make this wine, the vineyard sources American oak bourbon barrels, then toasts and chars the wooden staves so they are “toasted, charred, and drenched” in Kentucky bourbon. Big aromas of black fruit and oak fill the nose, with added layers of blackberry and plum on the palate, adding structure to the generous tannins. The long, smooth finish comes from notes of vanilla, caramel and spice. Earning a 90 point rating from The Tasting Panel, this wine pairs well with grilled or roasted dishes.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF THE WINERIES