The Barrel Road Bourbon Barrel Red Blend 2015, they keep which grapes in the blend to themselves, the label says California which means no one AVA comprised 75% of the grapes, but the grapes came from vineyards in the Central Coast AVA, the Sonoma County AVA, Lake County AVA, and the Yolo County AVA (the end of the delta region from the San Francisco Bay. Red wine and some White wines are typically fermented and /or aged in oak barrels. Raw oak does not taste too good and like many things we eat put a flame to it and it is far more appetizing. So, Coopers (folks who make barrels) toast the inside of wine barrels, usually a light toasting is enough, it softens the tannins in the wood (grape skins also have tannins) and give off flavors of vanilla, chocolate, spice and others depending on the species of oak and the level of toast. But not here, with the Barrel Road Red, they do not use barrels made for wine, they employ used whiskey barrels from Backbone Bourbon out of Lawrenceville, Indiana located on the Indiana/Kentucky border a little east of Cincinnati, Ohio. Bourbon barrels are not toasted they are charred, it goes way beyond toasting. The charring actually acts as a charcoal filter and gives far more intense flavors than toasting does. Also, since these are used Bourbon barrels the Bourbon leaves behind some whiskey flavors. Bourbon can stand up to the intense flavors of charring since the whiskey is, in this case, 59% alcohol, wine is far more delicate with an alcohol level here of 13.2%. Even though the whiskey barrel is used and much of its potency has been diminished, a little still goes a long way. So, to achieve balance only a portion of the blend was aged in whiskey barrels for 3 months. If all the blend was aged in whiskey barrels they would probably have to age the bottled blend for several years until it calmed down enough to drink. Like I said, a little Bourbon whiskey barrel goes along way when aging wine.
The color is an opaque black cherry red with a clear halo. The nose is interesting, a nice mix of blackberry and red berries, mocha, vanilla, clove, exotic spice, molasses, and brewing coffee, none of the scents are overpowering or out-of-place. This is not your typical California Red blend, it takes a few sips figure things out. It starts with, plum and blackberry, and then the secondary Bourbon flavors kick in, not strong, balanced, cola, orange peel, bitter chocolate, and toasty vanilla. The mid-palate adds tart cherry, coffee, spice, and raspberry. Be sure to give this bottle enough time for the wine to fully “open” up, as it opens more flavors come spilling out. The tannins are surprisingly smooth and the acidity is balanced by the body of the wine. The finish is full and fades fairly quickly, but never really goes away.
The Barrel Road Bourbon Barrel Red Blend 2015 is one of those “gotta try it” wines because there are very few wines available like this. The Bourbon barrel influence on this wine is well controlled, nothing is over the top or challenging to the palate. But it does taste different, As for pairing with a meal, a French style stew, especially where some of the wine used for the sauce or possibly pot roast, but the Barrel Road is probably best used as a sipping wine. I was a little apprehensive before trying this wine, thinking the whiskey barrels might be a bit too much, but the moderate alcohol level and the layered nose and flavor profile showed me I had nothing to worry about. The Barrel Road Bourbon Barrel Red Blend 2015 is a fun, interesting, tasty Red blend.