Cabernet Sauvignon aged in Bourbon Barrels
A Limited Release offering from Robert Mondavi
After my mixed review of Apothic Inferno — a red blend aged 10 months in whiskey barrels, I became curious about this concept. I know it’s nothing new, per se, but it’s a something I don’t have a lot of tasting experience in. Knowing that there are a few, shall we say, well-established wine producers dabbling in this art, I thought I’d give it another go. And you can’t argue that Robert Mondavi is one of the most well-established California wineries to date.
So hold on to your horses, cowboys, Briscoe’s going Bourbon Barrel bobbing…
About the Wine: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is made from predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested from Monterey County. I say predominantly because, as most of you know, very few Cabs are 100% CS, often containing a bit of Merlot for softness or Cab Franc or Petite Verdot for depth. But, alas, I do not know the exact percentage of CS in this wine or what the blends actually are — although I have my best guesses from my tasting.
Exact fermentation methods and primary aging notes are not available. What I can tell you, though, is that the bourbon barrel aging was a secondary aging process in which a select amount of the already aged wine was moved to charred American oak barrels from a Kentucky distillery to age for 3 more months.
A couple of good things to note when looking at wine aged in bourbon (or whiskey) barrels. 1) Make sure that if it’s a blend, you know what the blend consists of. Mondavi’s team was smart and chose a CS, a thick-skinned grape less susceptible to absorbing oak-odor and texture, meaning the essence of the grape will not get lost. 2) Note the percentage of the wine that’s aged in the “interesting” barrels. I know Mondavi doesn’t provide an exact number, but they do indicate (directly on the bottle) that it is a portion of the wine (aka: not the whole dang thing). Again, you want to ensure you’re enjoying the true flavors of the wine (or at least I do).
Flavor Profile: Robert Mondavi Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon is quite sanguine on the pour — a deep, rich, syrupy red. On the nose there’s no denying that toasty oakiness, like dry tree bark, along with something a little sweeter akin to brown sugar or molasses. Deep in the background you may sense some darker fruits like blackberries or plums, but it’s very very faint so don’t be surprised if you really can’t smell any fruit at all with this one.
On the palate the wine is quite light-bodied — for a Cab anyway. There’s not a lot of weight or heft and minimal use of tannins from the start (though they do give you a poke at the finish). Furthermore, the wine is almost silky in texture, another pleasant surprise for this varietal.
Initial flavors are going to give you those fruits you were looking for — those ripe blackberries, those plump plums. Hang on to the wine a bit longer and you’ll get that toasty oak, here almost like a piece of toasted bread, which melts in generously with that brown sugar/molasses essence — though the wine is by no means sweet. The finish, as I said, is where the tannins finally make their debut, but they’re so minimal even here that, if drinking this with food, you may not even notice. And if you do, it just makes you want to take another sip and start from that light softness from the beginning.
Food Pairing: Barbecue-sauce-induced anything. Seriously. I had the Robert Mondavi Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon with bone-in barbecue pork chops slathered in a sweet-spicy BBQ sauce alongside some mashed potatoes and grilled veggies. I could easily see this going well with some barbecue short ribs, or even a burger dressed in BBQ sauce.
More Info: Now I know usually include a bit of info about the winery and winemaker the first time I review a wine from a producer. But I feel like the story of Robert Mondavi is so huge, it’s worth a post all its own. And every time I’m in Napa (I mean every time), I always stop at the Mondavi estate — so I guarantee next time I do, I’ll have a post all about the Mondavi legacy as well as a visitor’s review.
Of course for more information about Mondavi wines, the family history, and to schedule your own visit, you can always go to the Robert Mondavi Winery website.
I purchased the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon at Target (Sale Price: $12.99).
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