Guaranteed Conversation Starter

Guaranteed Conversation Starter

A California red aged in Bourbon barrels

SHARE

Once upon a time oak barrels, for aging wines, were in short supply. But when the need was there, practicality won the day. In a throwback scenario, today’s red is aged in new and used Bourbon barrels, just as some were decades ago. The result is fascinating. The wine is made by Bob Blue, a legend in the history of Fetzer and Bonterra wineries. I met him years ago and, after tasting a full lineup, he showed me around Bonterra’s organic vineyard site. I recently tasted a 2005 Bonterra Syrah from my own cellar, and I’m here to tell you his wines age beautifully, with vibrant, cooler climate fruit that Mendocino County is famed for. Today’s red, a 100% Carignan, is an unusual varietal for California, but it is exciting to drink tonight or in a few years – your call. Blue has tamed the roughness and most of the rustic quality that often defines this prolific grape. It’s simply an excellent wine – as much for its originality as its inherent deliciousness. Either way, a unique experience and a great conversation starter awaits.

2016, 1000 Stories, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Carignan $19 srp*

A deep purple color coating the glass. Dark, languid bouquet of black cherry, charred smoky wood and a warm, briary brooding nose with exotic herbal overtones. Flavors are sappy, primary and clean. The texture is soft and accessible, deceptively smooth with balanced plum, olive and pepper notes. Its lip-smacking tannins caress rather than beat you up on the finish. So, grill up a steak, an onion, mushroom and zucchini kebab or some spicy popcorn – I tried that – and enjoy! Drink now-2024.

90/100 points

*I also enjoyed and highly recommend the 2016, 1000 Stories California Zinfandel, Bourbon Barrel bottling. I found the Carignan a bit more brooding and exciting, but please consider the Zin as well. It is also $19.

SHARE
Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.