It only took opening tonight’s wine to give me my blog topic – oak! The most frustrating part of wine – for me – because it can lead to the wines that I like the most, and the ones I just can’t stand!
Tonight was the latter. It was a Syrah from Chile. Not where I usually go for Syrah, but the review said all the right things – cool climate (like northern Rhone), pepper, meat, lean…should be my style, right? But then I saw that it had been aged in oak…A warning sign, but still, many northern Rhones get that, and still end up great (in my opinion).
But as soon as I popped the cork I could tell…not!!!!
It wasn’t bad, or even too woody. It just was devoid of fruit, replace instead by herbs, dirt and…I don’t know what else.
It reminded me of my other related pet peeves – oaked Argentine Malbecs, and most Spanish Garnachas. Same thing! Too many secondary aromas/flavours, and somehow the fruit has disappeared. So frustrating, especially with the Malbecs, which can be full of juicy blackberries! And don’t get me started on most Bordeaux, which you need a toothpick to drink with because of the woodiness.
But then there is the other side of the equation!
For reds, how about California (or some BC) Cabernet Sauvignons? If made in the Cali style, there is that amazing coating of vanilla from the oak barrels – absolutely gorgeous when done well, as the vanilla mixes with the black currants into a liqueur like flavour! The Caymus I had a few weeks ago was mind blowing. And the La Frenz and St. Francis excellent.
Same with Cali Chardonnays! I just had Mondavi’s latest Carneros Reserve and it was stunning, just as good as Beringer’s Private Reserve. Golden yellow, butterscotch, vanilla and ripe citrus – who couldn’t love that!
But what is with the dichotomy? How can I love one so much, and dislike the others just as much?
Deep breath…and opening a half bottle of 1989 Chateau Coutet to salve my wounds…what have I learned yet again?
Accept that wines have different styles, know what you like, and stick to it. Yeah, that’s it…
Tags: Argentina, bcwine, Beringer, blackberries, Bordeaux, butter, butterscotch, Cabernet, California, carneros, caymus vineyards, Chardonnay, chile, Grenache, La Frenz, Leisure, Life, Malbec, Mondavi, oak, oaked wine, red wines, Spain, St. Francis, Syrah, tannins in wine, toothpick, vanilla