Bourbon BarrelAging of Bourbon starts with the process of charring new oak barrels. The purpose is to caramelize the sugars inherent in the wood, which in turn delivers a distinctive aroma and flavor spectrum to the whiskey, as it ages in the barrel. Given the wave of popularity Bourbon producers have enjoyed, in tsunami proportions mind you, it was only a matter of time, when a few creative wine makers would pioneer the unique idea of aging wine in Bourbon oak barrels. Here on the cutting edge are two of our favorites:

2016 1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

The grapes are sourced from parcels in Mendocino County, a place where Zin harmoniously flourishes with the climate and soil. In the beginning, normal vinification techniques are incorporated with traditional aging of the wine in American and French oak. Afterwards, the wine is aged for a while in new charred oak barrels from the Independent Stave Company. Finally the wine is finished in old Bourbon barrels from distilleries such as Four Roses and Heaven Hill. The result is a wine that registers 15.2 alcohol by volume, which is fairly normal numbers for Zinfandels, but enhanced with an extraordinary flavor profile that provides added complexities from the various steps of barrel aging.

The wine itself features a kaleidoscope of aromas such as vanilla extract, dried herbs and spices, black pepper, cinnamon and a hint of cloves, to name a few. Flavors are wrapped in a sensuous pool of black and blueberry jam swirling in a rich caramel raspberry puree. The finish is warm and inviting with no lingering taste of Bourbon at all, just smooth well balanced, highly extracted fruit.

Although great on its own, I recommend the wine with BBQ. The spicy sweetness in the sauce compliments the rich flavors the Zin has to offer. Try to avoid too much heat in the sauce or rub. Sweetness works with Zin because of the deep fruit while heat would react with the alcohol. Not bad with a dry aged ribeye dripping with garlic and herb butter as well. For you non meat eaters, try it with grilled portabello and roasted root veggies sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon spice seasoning.

2012 Southern Belle Vino La Tierra de Murcia

An inspired collaboration between American importer Dan Phillips, president of Old Rip Van Winkle distillery, Julien Van Winkle and superstar winemaker Chris Ringland. The Belle is a blend of of Monestrall and Syrah grapes grown in the Murcia region of Spain. Finished in the ever popular Pappy Van Winkle barrels, the wine exhibits toasty vanilla and toffee confections packed with red, black and blue fruits that are ripe and full bodied. Balanced and elegant, there's a eminent terroir character in the wine, like standing in the vineyards and breathing the fresh morning air as the sun slowly dries the dew off the grapes.The Southern Belle is a masterpiece, where with the influence of aged bourbon barrels and the glory of Spain is revealed.

Great with roasted meats and stews as well as venison and elk for the adventurous. Maybe some duck breast prepared medium rare and drizzled with a reduced cherry sauce accompanied with yams glazed with nutmeg, cinnamon and butter.

Make it even better

Light up the fire pit on a cool evening and enjoy theses wines with some Blues in the background and a Padron 1964 Aniversario Exclusivo Maduro Robusto: sun grown natural wrapper from Nicaragua. A box pressed cigar with complex aromatics of mocha, hazelnut, spice and wood elements. Nice oils, always a smooth easy burn. A little expensive but why not treat yourself to a once in a blue moon moment in time.