Aging Cabernet Sauvignon in bourbon barrels shows off the natural ripe fruits while softening the tannins and adding an aged balance to the wine. Each sip resonates with rich hints of bourbon. It’s soooo good.
- Joy Merrilees, Director of Winemaking & Production
Vineyard and Winemaker’s notes
Nested deep in our vineyards stood a dilapidated 100-year-old skinning shed called the “Ye Old Buck Shack”. We loved the beauty and history of this old building. We restored it and converted it into a whiskey bar on our property called “Sheep Camp”.
The shack looks and feels like an old Western movie and it serves as a special place for us to gather and use bad judgment.
An El Nino weather pattern brought a wet winter and spring to the North Coast in 2017. A heat spike in June advanced the white grapes and prompted harvest in late August. Once the white grapes were in, cooler weather set in and gave us a delayed start to the red grape harvest 2 weeks later. Overall, the crop came in a little lighter than average. 95% of the vintage was in when the fires in Sonoma, Napa and Lake Counties began. We were luckily unscathed, even with the sulphur fire less than a mile from the Home Ranch. Whew!
We, the winemakers, take pride in producing excellent quality Cabernet Sauvignon from the high elevations of Lake County. We aged this intense Cabernet in freshly emptied bourbon barrels for three months and the result is oh so delicious.
Winery: Shannon Ridge
Owners: Clay and Margarita Shannon
Location: Lake County
At Shannon Ridge, we live in harmony with Mother Nature. The vineyards feed the sheep, the sheep feed the vines; lamb feeds the people, people drink the wine and wear wool.
We are dedicated to creating a family of wines that consumers love at top-quality and affordable prices. We are passionate about preserving our land, not only for great vineyard sites, but for the wild creatures which share our property. Our sustainability practices integrate a flock of sheep that clean the vineyards, remove the excess canopy, and reduce the need for chemicals, while providing natural fertilizer.
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Cool looking. If they provide info on tannins and PH I’d be more willing to buy (HINT HINT Wineries!) Definitely into the concept on this one, but very picky on my reds. I generally prefer old world style reds/lower tannins or lower acidity with balanced tanins for my reds. Hopefully a rat will appear and hopefully I’ll check it once they do.
Huh. Is this really interesting and tasty? Is it a hapless wine, ruined by exposure to a flavor profile that has no business being in wine? Is it a crappy bourbon, molested by the clashing flavors of an unwelcome wine? This is one of those things that really needs a tasting…
It began as a normal night. We sat down to dinner having cheeseburgers and Sheaf Stout (one of my favorite beers). I asked my husband if we had any deliveries at work. He said yes; we received one small package that he had to sign for. At the precise moment I knew we had been graced with the Golden Ticket. He was surprised when I immediately grinned ear to ear and made him go out to the car in his P.J’s to receive “the package”. He said my grin was like a ray of sunshine. I said “do you what we have been graced with”. Even though we had an adult beverage, I was too excited to wait and so I tore open the package because I needed to try the wine. When I read the words “aged in whiskey barrels”, my smile was even wider, think Cheshire Cat. I love good whiskey and one of my favorite beers is a good stout aged in whiskey barrels. Aging in whiskey barrels gives the stout and extra layer of deliciousness that I love. I knew that even if we finished off the stout and dinner, we had to try the wine. I opened up the box and the cork had a good size wine stain on it which I still think is odd. I love the bottle since it looks like a whiskey bottle and not a wine bottle. The nose was not much. My husband said he smelled smoke, but I got none of that. The first taste for me was raisin and the wine had great color but no “legs” in the glass. My husband tasted cherries. It was dry but not so dry your salvia dries up. More like eating the pucker powder candy. We own a candy store and just bought a gelato machine that we are experimenting recipes with. We had this big sip of wine, think 1/4 glass, with marionberry and chocolate gelato. I have to say, it went quite well, surprisingly. I saved the rest of the bottle till tonight. We reopened the wine and still had no decerinable nose. The color was still beautiful and the wine had “legs”. Tonight it tasted more cranberry/tart cherries than raisin. It also had a hint of vanilla. If you like whiskey and expect to find a hint of it in this wine, then don’t. We could not detect the “whiskeyness” in this wine. My husband and I both agree that $15.00 was a good price for this wine without looking at this offer. Please let me know if you have any questions. I want to thank Casemates for this amazing opportunity!
Let me start off by saying I’m not a wine expert. Hell, I’m probably not even a wine amateur. If you had to put me in a box, I’m a beer guy (NEIPAs yum!). But I do enjoy a fairly regular glass of wine as a welcome alternative, particularly if I’m headed to our favorite local steakhouse or one of the many BYOB restaurants the Philadelphia area offers. I’m partial to low-tannic reds (think Cabs and Malbec) and less occasionally, Pinot Grigio. So let’s just say that when I was selected to be a lab rat, I was in equal parts delighted and concerned. After all, I have almost no reputation to live up to.
The shipment arrived Wednesday evening, just in time for me to perform this review. As you’ve already noticed, the format of this selection is somewhat unusual. At first I thought I was gifted a bottle of bourbon, only to read on to find in fact it was a Cabernet Sauvignon! Further label-reading revealed it’s aged in Whiskey barrels, hence the creative bottling. Now this is getting exciting! While the physical aspects of the container rarely matter (to me), this struck me as a pretty satisfying package. Maybe it’s not PC to write this next part, but I AM a rat, so I’m going for it: This wine is manly. Or at least more so than the gender-neutral-every-bottle-of-wine-is-basically-the-same-shape I’m used to.
But let’s get into it.
On uncorking this bad-boy, I was greeted with an earthiness and fruity aroma. The color, once poured, was a medium-deep red that is consistent with Cabs. I didn’t allow it much breathing time, and found it was almost immediately pretty drinkable. I detected notes of blackberry, sandalwood and finely milled toy army men… just kidding. I don’t have the pretense, palate or nose to detect that traditional wine stuff. But it was good, low-acidity, and easily paired with some Mediterranean takeout (a mixed-grill kabob consisting of filet, shrimp and scallops) with a side of hummus, baba ganoush and pita. We almost went to the restaurant but got super-lazy and did DoorDash instead. Don’t judge.
Working through the first glass, it honestly tasted as good with the shrimp as it did the steak. At this time I was thinking, “this was good, but not exceptional”. A quality Cabernet, but nothing that screamed, “I MUST HAVE THIS”. Moreover, I was looking forward to getting those indications of the bourbon-barrel aging, but it just tasted like wine to me. Not a bad thing, but a little disappointing nonetheless. The $15-18/bottle price seems like more than fair – I would have expected about $30 not knowing what the sale would be.
But then I had the second glass. This allowed for about 15-20 minutes of breathing time. I started to detect some additional spiciness and what I at first thought was some tannin. Odd, because that usually mellows out over time, right? It was then that I began to notice the bourbon influence. I don’t want to go so far as to say it had specific flavors of vanilla and caramel or anything like that (though I could convince myself that was the case), but it definitely had a uniqueness in this second serving that elevated it beyond a “normal” Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of it was the aftertaste, some was that it just felt a little different on my tongue. And I liked that experience of trying something new and a little unexpected. The flavors were more subtle now and the finish was dryer. Pretty neat.
At the end of the day, I think just showing up with this bottle and telling your friends it’s bourbon-barrel-aged wine in a neat bottle is cool party trick and maybe even worth the price of admission alone. But truly, the second glass sold me. It’s got a unique profile (even if I’m shit at describing it) and something that I’d consider purchasing today.
So take it from a wine-tasting neophyte and semi-professional shirt designer: “This is wine. And it’s probably pretty good.”
@ACraigL With this review, you’re no longer a neophyte Rat! Nice honest review!
Although I’ve never tasted anything like this, I think you hit the nail on the head in stating that you liked “the experience of trying something new and a little unexpected”! I think that’s the wine theory many of us old WineWooters and Casemates look forward to!
It’s when I see offers like this, I long for the days when there wasn’t enough Cabernet grown in California for people to dream things like this up… and Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de la Tour Cabernet cost $1.50 a bottle.
@rpm Damn, you’re older than dirt if you remember “Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de la Tour Cabernet costing $1.50 a bottle”!!
Now if @winedavid49 can work his ULTRAMAGIC for us and snag BV Georges de la Tour Cabernet for $15 a bottle (accounting for scant inflation), we would crown him “Bacchus-Dionysus, God of Casemates”!!
I, along with the wife and in-laws, have all really enjoyed the few cab’s aged in bourbon barrels that we’ve had. I think it helps when you like both red wine and bourbon, and provides a unique flavor profile. I can’t say that we’ve had this one, but have been very pleased with the few other brands we’ve tried over the years. I’m willing to roll the dice based on previous other brand experience.
@Casemates i love the service you bring to us and was hoping to leave some friendly feedback. it would be handy to have the size of bottle in the description or possibly a picture of the bottle next to a banana for scale maybe even both. thanks and keep up the good work
“Quick Hijack” ---- Have any 'mates tasted Founders KBS (Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout)? It’s only limitedly released once a year and it’s REALLY good! It’s so thick and stouty, you want to just sip it! I think I still have some '17 & '18 in the garage frig and that’s why I keep my garage locked!! “End of Hijack!”