Yes, and certainly very surprising, I stumbled upon a flirtatious Rioja recently at the Swedish monopoly that as it turns out is not the usual kind with insanely high level of toasted new American oak that normally is like putting all the fruit into really thick and creamy vanilla ment for sweet desserts. It is a quite new French producer, Tom Puyaubert, who is also a barrel binder from Bordeaux. He uses 30% whole clusters, conducts cold soak before a long 21-days extraction on the skins. The juice is then raised in 30% new oak (80% French, 20% American) but not the traditional 100% American one only with an abundance of vanilla flavours and cola notes. However, Tom is using well toasted oak barrels as he believes it is a “purifying” treatment of new oak. Fruit is the expected tempranillo (80%) for complexity and the rest the classic graciano for ageing and garnacha (grenache) for structure. Grapes are bush-grown in clay and limestone soil at an elevation of 500 m above sea-level from vines planted in 1980, whereas the other two origin from Rioja Alta planted mostly between 1950-1960.
Glowingly and a translucent mix of red purple and ruby red core colour with light pink edges.
Yes, there is obvious oak on the nose and the flavours are certainly elevated by it, but it is not taking over completely and there is a lot of cocos and mint too. In addition, after a while a perfume of mineral-coated under vegetation, complex smoke, distinct eucalyptus and herbs appear.
The fruit is in the back currently covered in thick oak powder, but the pleasant abundance of black currants and black cherries slips through anyway, fortunately. Yet I’d certainly (as anyone trust me) like much, much less toasted oak, the wine is generous, sharp but smooth, energetically fresh, it is certainly intense and built with finesse and elegance. Yes the oak addition is too much and way too well toasted, but but.. for some strange and unholy reason, it gets away with it only by the way of its charm, finesse, precision and in its evil flirtation. It is a remarkable achievement especially considering its price tag. Ensure to give it at least 2-3 hours of decanting in 18 degrees Celsius. Since high toasting levels is Tom’s belief, let’s hope he will cut down even further on the amount of oak in the future, because it will be beneficial for such a good balanced wine. (tasted 3/2-2017)