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Bourbon Barrel hits and misses, and

Grape of the week: Cava

Hello, my Wine Old Owl watchers!

This week, I had the opportunity to taste and review some interesting offerings of Bourbon Barrel Aged wines. I will keep this short and to the point.

The Robert Mondavi offerings of Bourbon Barrel Aged Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were fun and even pleasant to drink. I've known about the Cab for about a year now, and found it to be interesting. The application of used Bourbon barrels changes the cherry and cocoa powder notes in the wine to blackberry, plum and Tootsie Roll. Not a bad wine. My initial declaration was, "Leave it to Mondavi to find a way to make cheap Cabernet taste really good."

The Chardonnay was new to me, and the used Bourbon barrel added a satisfying, creamy vanilla and toffee note to the finish of Mondavi's entry level Chardonnay, which typically yields yellow apple and vanilla notes and flavors. Again, well done, Mondavi.

The rest of the wines we sampled, which I will not name, nor go into detail about, sadly, missed the mark BIG TIME! To quote one of my more experienced tasters, "What a terrible waste of a good Bourbon barrel."

Experimenting will always be a part of the wine business. I can only hope that this (fad) of using Bourbon barrels to age wine passes quickly, and winemakers get back to perfecting their craft of producing World class wines the way they were meant to be. That said, I will leave you with an installment of my "Grape of the Week." Enjoy!


Well, summer is drawing to an end, and that means the kids are going back to school, and... Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Ok, some of you are bit more excited about that than I would've expected. Ok, so, as I was saying, the kids are going back to school and routines are about to become the way of life again. So, what wine should you choose to celebrate the end of summer (and the start of the new school year)?

Allow me to suggest a nice sparkling wine from Spain... Cava.

Cava is a light, crisp, acidic and flavorful sparkling wine. It is made from three main grapes, which contribute unique characteristics.


Macabeo provides aromas of white flowers and stone fruits. The flavors are more green apple and quince, which is similar to green pear.


Xarello adds acidity, but not so much that it is unpleasant. Just enough to make the wine pop in your mouth. And lastly, Parellada, which has aromas and flavors of pears, apples, and citrus. Other aromas and flavors that can be found in Cava, depends on the weather. Cooler years produce wines with more green pear and green apple, lemon, lime or quince flavors. Warmer years produce robust yellow apple or peach and even apricot notes. Hot years can produce citrus notes of oranges, tangerines and even almonds.

Cava is made using the "Traditional Method." That is, the wine is fermented first in barrel, and then later it goes through a second fermentation in bottle. Learn more about different methods of making sparkling wines here.

There are three levels of quality for Cava. Wines simply labeled Cava have to be aged a minimum of nine months; Riserva has to age a minimum of 15 months; and Gran Riserva must age a minimum of 30 months. And Cava is the only Spanish wine NOT named for the region it's grown in, although most Cava comes from the region of Penedès.

Two of my favorite Cavas are the Jaume Serra 'Cristalino' and the Segura Viudas 'Pewter.' These sparkling gems can be paired with just about anything from cheeses and nuts, to dried fruits and steak dinners. Give them a try, I promise, you will love them!

Until next week, cheers!