I just had a $10-12 wine that is made from 90% OLD oak - 2001 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Vinas Viejas. With this example, and recalling too Sarah Perez’s Universal ";Eneas";, I’m wondering why this practice of old oak barrels may not be a good thing for many less expensive Spanish wines. Bearing in mind that what I know about this subject from a technical perspective one can pour out of a thimble, it seems that in many cases old oak - which is far from a neutral, inert element - will preclude many shorter-lived and less complex wines from remaining mostly termite juice as long as they are alive. Indeed, even if they may not be very short lived, who wants to wait forever to cut through the carpentry of a basic ";Tuesday night"; wine?
Are there many other good examples of old oak?
Incidentally, about the wine: I should point out that this is a slightly upgraded (older vines, better vintage) version of a wine that Manuel wrote a tasting note about. It was award 93 points from Manuel’s good friend, Señor Parker. Good blackberry/raspberry and pepper/spice nose. Initially, however, I suspected that the vague and unfocused mid-palate was the clear sign of an over-hyped wine. [Memories, perhaps, of Castano ";Solanera,"; about which I never agreed with popular opinion here in the US, although for wholly unrelated reasons.] With about an hour or so of air, however, viola: more complexity in the nose (add some fur, a bit of lead pencil, and what? - well, this isn’t an official TN so I’m not going to work it out now) and, more critically, a spine builds from the back end forward.
Is this a 93-point wine? Let me put it this way: (1) for $10, I’m not disappointed and (2) I would choose this over Castano Solanera 100 times out of 100. One slight caution, however. I would drink this wine relatively quickly. Two years? I base this comment on (1) a wholly uneducated hunch and (2) how the wine behaves in the glass after several hours.
Hi Walt, as far as I know this wine is named Baltasar Gracian Viñas Viejas in Spain, it is from Cooperativa San Alejandro in calatayud.
And talking about old oak, all the classic Vinos Finos de Rioja use old barrels of american oak. I bet that Manuel can add more details to this.
I remember now the Jane Ventura’s Vinya Palfuriana: http://www.verema.com/comunidad/vinoscatados/resultados.asp?buscar=palfuriana which is quite good, specially the 2002.
You can find further information in http://www.janeventura.com/angles/vinyapalfuriana.htm
It is using 3 year old barrels.
Walt, the wine you comment is Baltasar Gracián Garnacha Viñas Viejas 2001?: http://www.verema.com/comunidad/vinoscatados/vino.asp?vino=6484
I agree with you regarding used oak barrels for wines with less structure. I think most of the new wineries (specially in new regions) need years of experimentation to determine which is the best ageing in oak for their wines. They have to choose type of oak, barrel winemaker, level of barrel toasting, time to stay in barrel according to the vintage, etc.
Too many variables and too few vintages every year :-) In a sense, the recent wave of new wines/wineries are mostly experimentation paid by poor ’aficionados’ like us.
I simply do not know whether this is the same wine as Baltasar Gracián Garnacha Viñas Viejas 2001. The importer in this case, Eric Solomon, occasionally imports special cuvees made by the producer exclusively for the US market. Other importers do this too. There also have been times, however, where the imported wine is the same as a wine sold in Spain, but the name is different. Similarly, there apparently have been instances where the reverse is true: same name but different wine. For example, some or all these issues might have existed with Castano (Yecla) imports and its array of wines and labels -- all very confusing and potentially problematic. I read, for example, that a Castano ";Solenara"; was marketed in Western Europe but it was different from the wine imported to the US that received a high Parker score. Of course, European retailers sold the wine by advertising the Parker score.
Too busy and too tired to get into another one of these, Walt. But since Such pointed me to your post and I should take a break from my backbreaking toil, here go a few thoughts:
(1) Whenever I speak against ";new oak,"; I do so proposing the use of neutral containers in which to allow wine to develop. Mind you, by no stretch of the imagination should this be construed as advocacy for ";old"; oak. I’m trying to resist reading in your post that you think I recommend such a thing and will clarify at the risk of redundancy. I always state that used barrels, as long as they are CLEAN and of good quality, provide as close to a neutral receptacle as one can wish for. Of ocurse, they are not COMPLETELY (How I wish the tech side of this forum could figure out a ";Bold"; and ";Italics"; function so one didn’t have to look like one was hollering...) neutral, since some wood-related aromatics are imparted upon the wine, but they are a far cry from the aggressiveness of the high-toast François-Frères furniture so in vogue today among the point-seeking. Remember, CLEAN wood. And don’t even think of trying to portray me as a defender of the old ";carrilero"; industrial Riojas made by despicable megabodegas with the backing of banks and breweries. At every extreme, excrement occurs.
(2) That ";Rocas de San Alejandro"; was tasted biten into at a jeebus by a group including Chris Coad, Joe Dressner, Denise Louis, Jeff Connell, radKane, Jeff Grossman, Jay Miller and myself. I believe Coad poted one o his usual riotous chronicles on Wine Therapy under the title ";The Last of the Red-Hot Jeebi,"; Not ver well received by the audience, I’m afraid. Now, you speak of an ";upgraded"; and ";old vines"; version of the wine you claim I tasted. Wha? Are you on some VIP list to which we plebs and Parker-bashers have no access? I thought that Calatayud wine, which retails for $8.99 at Garnet, was the one that got all the points from the Fat Man. Oh well... But at least we agree somewhat on that Solanera. I believe it to be one of the most abject examples of Parker’s influence that I know. Nasty stuff that stinks of burnt rubber, bubble gum and industrial fruit jam.
(3) Don’t get me started on that Eneas horror... They use OLD oak? Just one more thing to hold against that dreck.
If I sound irritated, it’s because I am. This reply was typed with one hand, as the other tries to balance the ";To Do"; pile of stuff that needs finishing before this awful week is over.
";How I wish the tech side of this forum could figure out a ";Bold"; and ";Italics"; function so one didn’t have to look like one was hollering";
I’s easy, Manuel. You have to write the HTML tags. For instance, for bold you use < b > (the symbols must be close to the letter but I have to write like this to avoid automatic introduction of the markup tag). To close the tag is the same but with a / before the b. For italics is the same but with ";i";. For instance:
I have a lot of work
I love Bosconias
Enjoy the new functions! :-)