2017 Southern Belle 1.5 Liter Magnum
Medium deep opaque purple color with dark red rim. Initial aromas redolent of blackberry and blueberry with underlying hints of red fruits give way to pleasing complex elements of vanilla and toffee. Soft, big, yet elegant mouth feel, rich, full body, density, superb balance and grip, lead to long, long finish, carrying intense ripe fruit and complex flavors. Soft, supple, dramatic, sexy wine with a compelling yummy factor that screams “drink me.”
Blend: Syrah and Mourvedre
Region: Jumilla, Spain
Artist: James Jean
Designer: Mr.Keedy and Basora
Winemaker: Oriol Illa
The idea to use the bourbon barrels came over a dinner years ago that I shared with my buddy Julian Van Winkle at a Southern Foodways Alliance meeting at Blackberry Farm in 2001. It was simply an idea that came up in conversation. Hey, let’s do something together. What about putting wine in used Pappy barrels? Okay, I’ll send you some. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen old, used bourbon barrels, but they’re ugly. When the winemakers first saw the barrels, they flat out refused to put wine anywhere near them. But, eventually they did and the result was not only delicious but magical.
The length of time in Van Winkle barrels varies depending on many variables: how many uses they’ve had, the wine, the year, the taste, the balance. There is no set formula but we know the wine we’re trying to create and use the barrels as much as needed to get it. We want the wine to have bourbon influence but still maintain it’s integrity as a fine wine. We don’t want a freaky bourbon wine. Bourbon is an element of complexity not a dominant element. At least that’s our aim.
Many people who taste the wine and don’t know there is bourbon influence would not necessarily smell or taste bourbon in the wine. I like that. I’ve been making this wine since 2005 vintage so we’ve learned a huge amount about the use of these special barrels.
“Southern Belle” was created to resemble fine china. One tradition of Southern Gothic literature is to subvert traditional stereotypes of the antebellum period. The element of hypocrisy plays a huge role in these characters. I also have an interest in exploring gender issues, though subtly, in much of my work. The first bottle is the “promiscuous belle” wielding her deadly charms on her suitors, the second bottle is the “mourning belle” with all the skeletons of the past emerging from under her dress, and the last bottle is the “homemaker”, who tries to contain and control appearances on the estate as if it were a doll house.