I’m not sure if this style of wine has been done before, and I don’t usually pay attention to big brands, but it was new to me when I first read about it in this article. While it seems surprising at first, after some consideration you start to wonder why no one else has thought of it before – for a long time whiskey has been finished in casks that were use in port, sherry and wine production. So why not age wine in barrels that had been used for whiskey? What would happen?
- Clarity: Clear
- Intensity: Deep
- Colour: Ruby
- Condition: Clean
- Intensity: Medium+
- Development: Youthful
- Sweetness: Dry
- Acidity: Medium+
- Tannin: Medium+
- Alcohol: Medium+
- Body: Medium+
- Flavor Intensity: Medium+
- Finish: Medium+
- Quality: Very Good
- Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
- Identity: Australia / Coonawarra / Cabernet Sauvignon
- Price: High-priced ($21)
- Long, thin tears
- Aromas of vine leaf, eucalyptus, blackberries, stewed prunes, sour cherries
- Flavours of dark cherries, chocolate, preserved orange peel, christmas pudding, cinnamon, clove
- Chewy tannins, good acidity ensures wine is not cloying
- Food match with honey-glazed ham, rump steak
- Can’t be sure if whiskey barrels have had that much effect on the wine.
Life has a funny way of making things happen. I had been planning on buying a bottle myself purely out of curiosity, but other responsibilities got in the way. Then last week we had some guests over for dinner, and one of them had brought in a wine, the socially accepted convention. Lo and behold, it was a bottle of the Double Barrel Cabernet. It went unopened that night as I had other offerings to occupy their palates, but I made sure it was stashed away safely for another time.
To make a meaningful comparison, I should briefly outline my understanding of Coonawarra Cabernet to start with – my experience shows that they are full bodied wines, with great depth and complexity, with noticeable elements of eucalyptus and vine leaf on the nose, a general “green” character that is present, but not overbearing.
And this wine was much the same, very finely balanced, not sticking out in strange places and raising eyebrows… which made me wonder if the finishing in whiskey barrels contributed anything to the final product at all. Based on the varietal, region and key terms, perhaps I was expecting a larger effect.
In hindsight it might make sense – whiskey is actually transparent, raw spirit before it goes into cask, effectively a blank canvas that takes on colour and flavour from the wood that contains it. In contrast, a wine’s character is deeply concentrated in the grapes, and while human intervention can influence this somewhat, this is less like painting on a blank canvas than sculpting a statue from raw marble.
I don’t point this out as a criticism – perhaps more sensitive tasters than I could pick out the difference, but it would be interesting if the same wine could be offered for tasting that had not been finished in whiskey barrels, as a point of comparison. The wine wasn’t flawed, it was well balanced and a great wine from a technical aspect… my expectations may have been inflated because of my affinity for whiskey.
Other than that, perhaps this is a great marketing ploy to get whiskey enthusiasts interested in drinking wine, which I would welcome wholeheartedly.
Read more: Use Selective Ignorance