Wine has many traditions, and the folks who made Cooper & Thief look to have broken, or at least, drastically altered many of them.
The Cooper & Thief red blend, depending on how you look at it, is either an eschewing of tradition, or it’s a riff on wine making practice. While there’s nothing new about barrel aging red wines to extract taste and complexity, I don’t believe it’s ever been done with bourbon barrels before (three months in bourbon barrels to be exact). The blend of Merlot and Syrah, along with dots and dashes of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon is rich and ripe. The wine is very much done in a style of a ruby port, with similar alcohol content and punch.
The wine is richly aromatic with notes of black plum, clove and vanilla. The palate matches with a rich redolence, velvety black fruit, mocha powder and a prune note. The flavors are accented certainly by the bourbon barrels but the wine does not come off as gimmicky or kitsch. The finish is long lasting and mouth coating. It tastes like a well made after dinner drink and can likely be enjoyed upon opening for an extended time period.
While this wine clocks in above our $20 price point, it’s well worth you paying a bit extra for, particularly if you’re new to Port and port-style wines, this American blend could very well be a gateway wine.