Joshua London wrote:
Craig Winchell wrote:A relatively unremarkable article...
Well, I did say "interesting" rather than "remarkable." I actually thought it was pretty good in terms of provoking thought amongst those of us who fancy ourselves (at least semi) knowledgeable critics/tasters. I particularly liked this:
"Working out that a wine is ‘under-oaked’, by contrast, is no easy matter. If I feel dissatisfied with such a wine, I will probably complain about something else altogether. An aggressive flavour profile, perhaps; the stinkiness of reduction; or an overall lack of harmony and equilibrium. It’s an impressive feat to imagine such a wine with another eight months in oak, or with 70 per cent rather than 20 per cent new oak, or with ten months in second-use oak rather than in concrete tanks."
Still, since no else commented, I guess even "interesting" was an oversell. No worries.
Thanks for posting. Although I didn't find much meat in the article, it can serve to spawn a discussion on the topic. While oak's contribution to oxidation is subtle and imperceptible, its contribution being indirect, noticeable only in its effect on the finished product, when it is used as a flavor enhancer and as a mask, covering the flaws in a wine, its footprints can seem like those of a fossilized dinosaur. I tend not to like those wines, even though I understand the reason for the particular oak treatment, and perhaps precisely for the that very same reason. The author feels unsatisfied with under-oaked wines, but what I find in his complaints are references to flaws of a poorly made wine: reduction and imbalance, rather than valid reasons to feel unsatisfied with that style of wine-making. Then there are those monster wines with over-the-top fruit that the winemaker chooses to tame by using oak. Again, I understand the approach, but I prefer wines that are done differently. As a rule I prefer silky tannins and acid, to high alcohol and oak. From my experience, typically, high alcohol implies a later harvest, resulting in lower acidity. Which in turn, is remedied by covering that up with an aggressive oak treatment, consequently overpowering the silky tannins with those of the oak. However, I do understand that silky tannins are very much a function of the grape variety, as some varieties have thinner skins, imparting less tannins than their thicker skinned cousins.
As for the delay in commenting, my read-response cycle isn't on steroids.