Decanter have published a news piece on the possibility of cork taint being transmitted by oak barrels (you can read it here). It’s a bad piece for a number of reasons.
First, it doesn’t mention that Pascal Chatonnet works as a consultant for Amorim, the world’s leading cork company. They have an interest in getting people to blame musty TCA-like taints on sources other than cork.
Second, the results of the study haven’t yet been published, so we can’t evaluate them. JAFC (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry), the journal who have accepted the paper, will likely not be impressed that media stories are being leaked before the publication date.
It is perfectly possible that trichloroanisoles can be transmitted by barrel staves (it is not an ‘infection’ as stated by the news piece – TCA is a fungal metabolite, not a fungus). Wood has been known to taint wineries when it has been treated by the related bromoanisole TBA, which also smells musty.
But if barrel taint were a significant issue, we would expect to see some musty tainted wines sealed with non-cork closures such as synthetic corks and screwcaps. In the International Wine Challenge over the last few years there haven’t really been any (perhaps 1 or 2?), even though around 15 000 bottles are opened and tasted each year.
This suggests that winery taint and barrel taint aren’t significant sources of musty taint in wine, even though it remains possible that this could occur.
Note added later: as the commentators below point out, a musty barrel would (you hope) be detected by the winemaker before blending, so this could be occurring without it resulting in musty wines. Also, a musty barrel that is not spotted could end up being put into a blend where the TCA is diluted to below-threshold levels.