The “Un-Oaked” Trend is Upon Us

There appears to be a growing movement in California among winemakers and the media to champion wines that go light on (and in some cases eliminate) oak aging. One client has in fact introduced three different “unoaked” wines. A chardonnay, a sauvignon blanc and a Pinot Gris. Recently, the New York Times explored this movement in an article by Eric Asimov.

In fact a number of California wineries are talking about and promoting their more fruit forward, leaner wines…mainly white. From a publicists perspective this is a good story to tell. It appears to set the winery apart from the crowd, it suggests they are acting on integrity, and it’s a story that a lot of writers and readers want to hear.

My take on this trend is that it is a case of the pendulum swinging back, rather than just a chance to get some ink. For quite some time now California wines have been (rightly, I think) pegged as big monster wines with lots of oak with a cream-butter middle. While a generalization, ask anyone who tastes lots of chardonnay and they will confirm that too many wines have taken this approach. They can be fun to drink…for a while. But they’ve come to define California winemaking. More and more wineries and more members of the press are simply saying “Stop!”…there’s another road to be taken.

Delivering balance to the world of California winemaking is a good thing. So I’m fully behind this movement. I have two clients that are now making “unoaked” wines. I don’t want to mention who they are because this blog is not meant to be a vehicle to promote clients.

If you are interested, just google “unoaked”…you’ll get a glass full of results.

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