Various reports and editorials lately have mused at the backlash against over-oaked wines, particularly Chardonnay. While I had no doubt that this was the case, and was even thankful for it, the real proof of the decline is what's happening to the American Oak market: it's collapsing. Or nearly. Oeneo corporation, one of the largest of America's handful of manufacturers of oak barrels has had to sell its American oak cooperage facility at a loss, after losing nearly 2 million dollars in the last couple of years.
In addition to the reduction in demand for American Oak barrels, which impart stronger wood flavors than their French counterparts, the American Oak market has been under increasing competitive pressure from the French who are now even setting up American companies to distribute their wares.
While this state of affairs undoubtedly means hard times for some people, which you never wish for, I can't say I'm particularly bummed out by the trend which it seems to signal. Very few winemakers know how to use American oak well, and for the rest, it ends up churning out wines that often have the "buttered plank" taste that so many people unknowingly tolerate and even love.
There will not be much mourning here. Here's the news story about Oeneo.
I know there are winemakers who read this site. What do you think?
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16 I'll Drink to That: Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat Vinography Images: White Wall I'll Drink to That: Author Ian D'Agata West of West Pinot Tasting: May 19, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/24/16 2016 Garagiste Wine Festival: May 19, Oakland Warm Up: Tannins I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Andy Erickson Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 17, 2016
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune