Oak Flavors and Barrel Swapping
The barrel has become an iconic image in the visual world of wine, but when it comes to flavor, winemakers use oak as a chef would salt for seasoning. On tonight's tasting we'll sample a few different levels of oak aging, from zero to bourbon barrel.
The best way to notice the lack of oak is in a Chardonnay like the Pascual Toso from Argentina. Aged in new oak for only 2 months, it shows the fresh character of the grape with aromas of crisp apple and tropical fruit. Great appetizer and seafood wine, so start a meal off with this before you move up to the Michael Pozzan Annabella Chardonnay. Napa Valley grapes, aged for 10 months in French oak for a more intense color and an added layer of caramel flavor. With this wine, you can pair heavier, butter-based cream sauces and even goat cheese and bitter arugula.
With red wines, the oak can add a vanilla toffee depth that makes a wine go well with anything off the grill, as is the case with the Californian Auspicion Cabernet. Aged for only 10 months in French oak, the Auspicion is still light, easy to drink and very food friendly, the kind of red you can take to any dinner party, regardless of the menu.
At the peak of the oak spectrum sit the wines aged in used barrels. Over the past couple of years, barrel swapping has taken the US by storm, making way for bold, full bodied wines. The best wine to experience the bourbon flavor crossover is the 1000 Stories Zinfandel. The aging happens in used bourbon barrels, giving this already heavy old vine Zin extra warmth and a charred vanilla and herb flavor. Although excellent with burgers, ribs and other meat dishes, this is a great after-dinner sipper, just like a good bourbon that goes down with a little heat.
Barrel swapping is also taking over spirit-making, as shown in this bourbon barrel aged gin from our local South Hollow Spirits. An excellent sipping gin for experiencing the full spectrum of flavor, this spirit would also make for an interesting cocktail crossover experiment. Think gin Manhattans!
Full lineup showcased at 4pm on Friday, September 28th.