Here's how Bodegas Balbas made its 2003 Ribera del Duero Alitus Reserve.
It spends 3 years in new oak barrels: 1 year in American oak, 1 year in French oak, and 1 year in a special barrel made of American oak heads with French oak staves.
In other words, 300% new oak! A new record!
Wow, talk about one-upmanship! All those Argentines who age their Malbecs for a year each in two different new oak barrels (200% new oak) must be rending their garments and wearing sackcloths. Ignominious defeat, you namby-pamby under-oakers.
Don't believe me? It's on Balbas' website; they're proud of it.
I tasted the wine at the Wine & Spirits Top 100 event in San Francisco (still the best wine-tasting event in town), and guess what it tastes like? Give up? Oak! Yeah, there's some dark cherry fruit and nice hints of dark chocolate. But if you like oak, and many people do, why settle for less?
Kudos to the producers for discovering something missing from the wine market, and giving us what we deserve.
In light of this, here are some more items I'd like to see:
* Single-grape Cabernet Sauvignon. Each grape is individually washed and dried before being individually crushed into a tiny fermenter with a single commercial yeast cell. Each bottle is made by combining the best 500 of these individual lots of Cab. I believe Harlan Estate is working on this.
* Winemaker essence red blend. A celebrity winemaker works out in the fields, then runs 3 miles fast on a treadmill positioned over the freshly crushed grapes, adding her essence to the wine. "I'm getting cherries, berries, and a fascinating savory, gamy note ...."
* Underwater-processed Albarino: A few bottles of Rias Baixas wine are sunk to the bottom of the sea for two months, then rescued and sold for a lot more money.
Ooops -- that last one already exists (Raul Perez did it). Blink and you miss the latest wine trend. 400% new oak, I can hardly wait!