Recently, a customer stated he liked our Chardonnay but we should limit our use of new oak. We don't use any new oak in our Chardonnay (or any wine for that matter) thus the dilemma. Should we tell him that he is tasting something else? Perhaps he is mistaking the impact of limestone on flavors? Or maybe the acid balance is making the oak taste more precise.
If he were local, I might invite him to barrel taste. He could see the 1, 2 and 3 year old barrels impact on Chardonnay plus we could taste new oak on Chardonnay from a friend's barrel. Tasting is the best way to learn.
When we were learning wine making in France, we were given the task of tasting 6 or so barrels of "Noble Rot", a dessert wine, and saying which one was the sweetest and which had the most acid. It was a very hard task and we didn't get it right the first time but we learned.
For now, the customer is always right and Isabel isn't sure about the flavor of Oak...