Red Fox Cellars “Bourbon Barrel” Merlot NV American

red fox merlotI just finished a satisfying week tasting the fine wines of Colorado’s Western slope.

I chose this one to ponder for an evening because it was aged in bourbon casks. Does that make a difference? I’m not sure, but in any case this is a very good wine.

It shows a highly-developed, complex nose with a distinctive flavor note which I found in most of the Bordeaux varietals here. I call it coriander-laced black cherry. Pronounced vanilla with a layer of mushroom provide contrast to the spiced fruit. But underneath it all there is a hint of dried apricot.

Dark, dry fruit fills the palate initially, and then more spice as the palate evolves. Full bodied and creamy yet lively and supple, it is well-framed with fine tannins and crisp acidity in balance, and a long,even tempered fade showing lingering wood notes  on the tail end of the medium-length finish.

This wine expresses an autumnal character. Very ripe, drying fruit,  fully developed, with warm, comforting spices, a melancholy elegance—lovely.

Red Fox Cellars is a relatively new winery (estate grapes on the way)  that takes pride in their willingness to experiment—hence the bourbon barrels used to age this wine.

So what difference do the bourbon casks make? I pick up the coriander note in other Colorado wines using conventional oak. Bourbon acquires vanilla notes from the oak but so does wine. I think the difference is in the dried fruit. Raisin or fig notes are common in red wine but the dried apricot is more characteristic of bourbon. But it is very subtle. Don’t expect a wine that tastes like whiskey. But do expect originality. Experiments are good when they work—this one does.

Score: 92

Price: $20

Alc: 14.1%

Yo La Tengo gets autumnal melancholy in the aptly title Autumn Sweater


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