Arterra’s Eugene Mlynczyk MW on two interesting Mondavi wines now at the LCBO.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection’s limited-release Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are now available at the LCBO (click here). These unique bourbon barrel-aged wines blend meticulous California winemaking with a new twist: the tradition of Bourbon Whiskey aging.

With these wines, Robert Mondavi Private Selection offers something innovative – adding to Robert Mondavi’s legacy of making great quality, expressive wine from California’s Central Coast. The used Bourbon barrels—selected from a renowned Kentucky distillery—offer notes of vanilla and baking spices and give the wines a deep, rich, toasty flavour from the fine whiskeys that once filled these casks.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Winemaker Jason Dodge

For any winemaker, the spirit of discovery is what keeps the craft interesting, vintage after vintage. When Robert Mondavi Private Selection Senior Director of Winemaking Jason Dodge began experimenting with Bourbon barrels, he created an intriguing interplay between wine and oak. Every sip is elevated: “Using Bourbon barrels in the aging process has a transformative effect, creating layers of flavour that bring the wine to a deeper level of complexity,” Dodge explains.

I must admit I was a sceptic, until I tasted the wines, which ride a fine line between intensity and balance. In the end, they are different and successful. Here are some tasting notes from Jason.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon

$20.95 | LCBO#: 464149
Layered and complex, the Cabernet Sauvignon draws you in with its flavours and aromas of blackberry cobbler, brown sugar, chocolate, coffee and smoke. A palate of blueberry pie, praline, sweet vanilla custard, caramel and mocha is framed by soft, chewy tannins and a hint of toasted oak on the lingering finish.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chardonnay

$19.95 | LCBO#: 516450
The Chardonnay is a rich and layered expression of California coastal vineyards. It is the first ever Chardonnay aged in Bourbon barrels—reflecting the expressive character of this truly original approach to aging in old and new Bourbon barrels. Intense aromas of ripe pineapple and toasted coconut emerge from the glass, framed by hints of toasted marshmallow and vanilla bean custard. A rich and creamy palate with flavours of grilled pineapple, lemon custard, graham cracker, toffee and vanilla bean is complemented by balanced acidity. Subtle undertones of toasty oak and baking spices round out the lingering finish on this decadent Chardonnay.

Finally, a rave review from Beppi Crosariol of the Globe and Mail:

Confession: I should hate this wine – because, as every grape geek out there knows, you’re not supposed to flavour wine with whisky, for Pete’s sake. And yet it’s oddly compelling, if not exactly stiff competition for white Burgundy. Sourced from Monterey County, this white spent two months in barrels that previously contained bourbon, acquiring whisky-like characters from the soaked oak. It’s full and plump, with honey-glazed-peach, grilled pineapple, corn syrup and caramel flavours and a texture that’s smoother than Lou Rawls’s velvet-lined vocal cords. Leave your wine snobbery at the door. Rated 88 points.

Arterra Wines Canada is a Good Food  Fighter. Please support the businesses and organizations that support Good Food Revolution.