New World Oak vs. Old World Ripe Fruit

I’ve hit a spell of mistaking ripe fruit on wines from the old world for American oak when blinding in prep for my certified exam. Really, I think I’m just having issues recognizing new oak in general. For example, in the last week on three separate tastings:

I called McLaren Vale Shiraz on a 2014 Delas from St. Joseph. (Fruit was bright. Thought I smelled new oak)

i called Mendoza Malbec on a 2015 Pavie Macquin

I called Chianti Classico on a Big Bold 2012 1er Cru from Santenay with a lot of tannin (didn't catch the oak)

I remember even thinking while tasting that the structural issues didn’t quite match my calls; however, I have been convincing myself on the nose (which obviously comes early in the grid) with regards to American oak (or lack thereof) and letting that largely dictate my initial and final conclusions taking precedent over structural components.

I need help with oak!!!!

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  • In my opinion, you're over thinking it. You're trying to prep yourself to taste like a master when going into the certified.

    The wines we blind taste ourselves end to be a little more advanced the wines we are blind tasted on in the CMS exam.   At the end of the day, they're not trying to trick you, just to make sure that you're able to go through the process. The wines that are tested are pretty standard for the regions in question.

     Being able to identify if a wine is high in acidity, or has oak at all rates just as highly as identifying the region.

     If you're having trouble with oak treatment, There are test kits specifically for that, but remember, oak is a tertiary flavor.

     If you want new American oak, try Rioja... or bourbon. those are the flavors you will get. French oak contains a little more vanila less coconut and pencil shavings..

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