Bourbon and Wine: A Perfect Marriage?
For imbibing, wine is our beverage of choice. When we start talking about spirits, we are lovers of Bourbon. The pairing of the two, via Bourbon barrel aging of wine, is a technique we whole-heartedly endorse. Just using Bourbon barrels, however, doesn’t transform a so-so wine into an amazing one. Even with a good wine, if the aging process isn’t done properly, it can turn it into a dud.
When the lineup for this month’s Wine Studio educational program was announced, we were pleased to see an opportunity to taste and discuss 1000 Stories. We first sipped and enjoyed 1000 Stories during the Wine Bloggers Conference last fall in Sonoma. That was a “speed tasting” and we looked forward to trying the wine in a more relaxed setting.
Bison Burger Stampede!
The Green Dragon usually checks with me when we do a Wine Studio tasting. We typically enjoy the featured wines with a specially paired meal early in the evening, since the Wine Studio “Twitter talk” doesn’t start until 9 PM. When she asked me for a suggested pairing, there was no hesitation: “bison burger!”
The 1000 Stories features a bold bison on the label and a the robust flavor of a Zinfandel or Petite Sirah would pair dreamily with a juicy burger, no matter how the wine is aged.
The resulting meal was a gourmet Bleu Cheese Stuffed Bison Burgers with caramelized onions on brioche bun, herb sautéed zucchini ribbons and hand-cut Yukon Gold frites kissed with truffle oil. This was a culinary work of art that I admired for several long seconds before wanting to devour it!
A Powerful Pair Of Wines
Winemaker Bob Blue points out that using Bourbon barrels to age wine is nothing new. When he was starting out as a winemaker, it was almost unheard of to get French oak barrels for wine and American oak barrels were for whisky, not wine. Barrels were still needed, so he purchased new and used Bourbon barrels. “Today, American and French oak wine barrels are commonplace,” says Blue, “so the inspiration for 1000 Stories is a nod to the way things were.”
1000 Stories currently offers two wines, the 2015 Zinfandel Batch 038 with a California appellation, and the 2015 Half Batch Petite Sirah from Lake County. Both are priced at $18.99 and have a potent alcohol content of more than 15%.
The 1000 Stories Zinfandel is a very good one. Dry farmed Zin grapes from Mendocino County, Lodi and Paso Robles form the basis for this wine, which also has a dash of Lake County Petite Sirah. The wine is first aged in traditional American and French oak barrels – which introduces smoke and vanilla flavors. The wine then is introduced to new Bourbon barrels. This adds another layer of complexity, with roasted caramel and spice notes. This wine had an enjoyable toasted flavor.
The Half Batch Petite Sirah is a bombastic wine, with intense fruit. This small lot wine has 83% Petite Sirah, 12% Zinfandel and 5% Syrah. The Half Batch moniker comes from selecting 100 of the best Bourbon barrels, half the amount of barrels used on their Zinfandel.
This is a big bodacious wine that has fruit and savory notes. Blackberry, raisin and smoke flavors mix together in this big wine. This needs time to decant and settle down .
Were we trampled by the 1000 Stories buffalo? Maybe just a bit, but in a way where we appreciated the power and finesse of well crafted wine. They paired magnificently with our bison burgers and Bleu cheese.
These wines would earn our favor even without the Bourbon barrel aging, but the BBA, done in just the right way, adds complexity and a unique “story.” You’ll enjoy telling it again and again!