Monday, October 25, 2010

And now, 300% new oak!

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!


Bobby Cintolo said...

Sounds interesting, where can I get a bottle?

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

why not just save us a lot of time, and leave the grape juice out and barrel fermented acorn juice.

Santo said...

And best part is that they will all be rated 98 points or better.

David said...

where does it say the oak is new, aside from in your article?

however, it does seem a little obnoxious either way.

Christophe Hedges said...

Wow. Shall we say this has tipicty of a dead tree carcass?

W. Blake Gray said...

David: They told me. I asked. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

Bobby Cintolo: I'm sorry, I looked on wine-searcher and didn't find it. I also looked on ablegrape and saw it for sale in Europe. While I asked the obvious question above, I was too stupid to ask the obvious questions, "where can I buy it?" and even worse, "how much is it?" If this were a print publication I would be too embarrassed to turn this in as a story.

People comment on the difference between blogs and print publications. This is a key one, and is almost worthy of a post of its own.

This post, to me, is interesting and amusing enough to run without the crucial information of price and availability. But the Los Angeles Times or San Francisco Chronicle would have refused to run it with those questions unanswered. So, which is right? My view is both have their place, and this particular item's place is online.

Arthur said...

@Portland Charcuterie Project:

...because acorns are toxic, but i know a guy with a sawmill who can provide us with 99% pure oak dust. We can add sugar, water, and yeast and.... voila

1WineDude said...

But you see, this move just makes total sense to me.

Too often, Tempranillo simply tastes like whatever oak it was aged in, so why not just go all the way, embrace the oak and tell drinkers to bring their tweezers to the tasting party (so they can extract the splinters from their tongues).

Next up: oak staves IN the bottles! :)

Anonymous said...

Americans were brought up on Bourbon. They love oak and alcohol. 10 years on new American oak. Remember, Bourbon tastes like vodka before oak aging. Please don't ask them to drink wine. They are screwing up the whole idea of wine as food. Give them some oak juice and alcohol (oh yes, I forgot the sugar) and they will give it 95 points.

W. Blake Gray said...

Anon: Yes, all 300 million Americans are exactly the same.

Please tell me the fabulous country of subtlety and wisdom from which you sprang, so I may bow down before its superiority.

One weakness in your country's amazing education system, though, is its reading comprehension. You might want to ask someone to explain to you where Spain is.

Greg said...

I'm aging my chardonnay in a burned down lumber mill, Rombauer aint got shit on me.