brigcampbell wrote:What about the oak program? What's your goal there? New versus neutral? Time in barrel?
FYI - WBers were requesting more small lot WA cabernet for BD. Actually, I don't think we had any...
But when I reached out to a few people for suggestions JB Neufeld was mentioned a couple of times. Justin has been a WB lurker for quite a bit. Seemed like a good fit.
Thats funny.......I'm a total lurker. I like to keep tabs on what people are saying about various producers. Anyway, to answer your question about oak.
I will start by saying that I love oak....good oak, not bad oak. An analogy I've used in the past is that oak is to wine what butter is to food. Please bare in mind that like all analogies, its not a perfect one, but hopefully will help get my point across. Some dishes call for butter, while others do not. Just as some wines call for oak, while others do not. The roll of these components in both situations is to add aromatic complexity, texture, weight and flavor WITHOUT overwhelming the actual food/wine. In some dishes, butter would ruin what they are and would not create a harmonious experience, just as oak can in some wines. However, some dishes become more complex and interesting with butter, just as oak can do in some wines. Ashamedly I admit, I might love Cabernet Sauvignon because of my love of oak. For me, Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety that is enhanced with oak. It can take the oak on and become a more balanced wine, without losing its terroir, identity, sense of place, whatever the kids want to call it these days.
However, as I alluded to above, there is good oak and bad oak. The analogy to me would be like trying to substitute margarine for butter. For me and what I like, I've found 'good oak' to be a barrel that typically has a lighter toast. Its less aromatic and sweet, but it offers up a wonderful tannic spine. Oak has tannin, albeit they are slightly different molecules than those tannins found in grapes. That tannic spine goes right down the middle of the palate and extends out into the finish, helping to lengthen it. Then imagine putting down on top of that, the fruit of the wine. The two meld and the oak fuses into the palate of the wine, filling in any gaps that may have been present. With time, that fusion becomes almost seemless, and the result is a Cabernet Sauvignon that is smooth and balanced. At least thats how I picture it in my head.........
On average, I use about 60-80% new french oak, depending on the vineyard. My coopers are Boutes, Sylvain and Taransaud. The wines are in barrel for about 22 months and are blended about 4 months prior to bottling. When my budget allows, I want to start replacing some of the neutral oak barrels with cement tank. Hopefully I will begin that transition this year. The goal there is retention of aromatics and purity of fruit.
It seems these days there is more talk about the negative impacts of oak in wine and it seems, in some cases, easier to just say you dont like oak. I guess thats kinda like saying you dont like butter.....period. Who doesnt like butter??