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Although I am starting to develop the taste for noticing the tannins and sweet intensities in wines, I am still having a tough time detecting the oak influence. May I get some suggestions on two wines with and without oak influence? I thought I had detected such in Sauvignon Blanc, previously. However, I am not sure anymore.
Original Post
Originally posted by RDCollins:
I suggest you try a couple of different Chardonnay bottlings in a side-by-side tasting, one very oaky such as the 2005 Beringer Private Reserve, and one less oaky bottle, like the 2005 Chateau Montelena Napa. If possible, try to find a Chard with no oak, such as the 2005 Clos Pepe Vineyards. The difference should be quite evident.

I agree that a side-by-side tasting is the way to go. Kim Crawford makes an Unoaked Chard that would fit the bill.

- Jeff
Most people like the toasty, butterscotch flavors of oak, and indeed that's what most people think Chardonnay tastes like. However, oak can be a bit much, especially when it overpowers the fruit and becomes the dominant flavor. I think that as they become more experienced, a lot of folks eventually come to prefer less oak and more fruit. But it's all a matter of taste, and depends a lot on what you're eating and what mood you're in. Personally, I like all styles, but have a preference for Chardonnay with just a little oak.

You should also try some Australian Cabs and Shiraz -- maybe a Penfolds Bin 389 or Bin 707. The heavy use of American oak gives the wine a distinctive character, which to me seems a bit like coconut. I like that, too!

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