I guess it seems like to me that there is a glut of expensive wines right now judging by the proliferation of Woot-like sites. While you have a devoted set of customers, it seems a lot of producers don’t.
Does there really need to be a dichotomy between 100% new French oak barriques and stainless steel tanks with American sawdust? It seems like an unnecessary contrast. There are a variety of possibilities in between cheap spoofulation and the most cost-intensive proven methods. I guess it is just me being a consumer, but it seems like a good thing if cheaper methods could be developed to achieve high quality. I have heard of toasted staves being inserted into seasoned barrels, as well as permeable fiberglass or plastic containers with inserts. Or even larger foudres that are re-used if maintained well.
I doubt results are identical, in fact they are probably different and some are going to be worse. But it does seem wasteful how barrels are treated now. One or two uses, then sold off on the cheap. Eventually you see them being sold at wineries as planters for $15! I guess it is good for coopers people keep buying large quantities, especially if forests are well-cultivated. But maybe some innovation will come about the encourages re-use of containers and lowers costs.