It’s the dawn of a new wine era. Over the weekend, with less fanfare then I expected on the Twitterverse, world renowned wine critic Robert Parker published this to eRobertParker.com subscribers:
I am thrilled to announce that Antonio Galloni will have expanded responsibilities for The Wine Advocate and http://www.eRobertParker.com as of February 1, 2011. I would like to take credit for my powers of persuasion over recent years in trying to convince Antonio of the virtues of covering additional wine regions, but if truth be known, the writing was always on the wall that his enviable talents and passion for this field would ultimately prevail, and the beneficiaries are the world’s wine consumers.
I can hear the likes of Alice Feiring and Randall Grahm (and many more) breathing a sigh with a hope that the era of big, tannic, extracted, dark color wines will transform into a Renaissance of Old World style, where varietals again have a chance to express themselves. I haven’t followed Antonio Galloni, but Alder does reference a belief that he is less focused on ‘intense ripeness’ as Parker. I will hold that hope close to my heart.
By the way for a great read, and more perspective, I highly recommend Alice’s book “The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization” and Randall’s “Been Doon So Long.”
One can debate the pros and cons of what “Parkerization’ has done to the wine industry. Certainly it has helped wine sales immensely for some producers. Perhaps it has evolved the thinking and exposure of wine aficionados. Or one could ask if ‘devolved’ by so much dependency on a single point of view.
My beef with the Parker phenomenon has been homogenization: the world is full of hundreds of wonderful, unique wine varietals and styles; and when Spanish & Italian vineyards start planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and winemakers change their traditional styles at the coaching of a consultant to achieve a high Parker score, something was lost in the world. Hopefully not forever in some cases.
The world is cyclical if a trend doesn’t last long enough, and it ‘feels’ like the pendulum had started to shift anyway; certainly many of the serious wine aficionados I know have shared this sentiment for awhile; and it seems the consumer interest is slowly awakening as well. The millions of US consumers herd mentality will take quite some time to turn around the Queen Mary – but there is hope.
Today’s wine consumer has many more choices for wine information – yes even those dreaded wine bloggers. Brilliant wine writers like Jon Bonné each week write about unique, interesting wines. The communication evolution has changed how consumers learn about and interact with brands, and will continue to do so. Social Media isn’t a fad, its migration of communication, just as we progressed from telegraph, to fax, to email. That doesn’t mean traditional media is dead; just augmented.
Social Media has pushed most wine writers to the web and to publish blogs, engage on Twitter. Millennials show more interest and consume more wine than any previous American generation. The movement is underway.
I send this to wine consumers, new and old. Open your minds and palates. Try new things:
- Learn to explore more white wines; there is an ocean of complex choices outside of California chardonnay butter bombs.
- Never let one tasting, varietal, experience, AVA or even country jade you. Try again.
- Understand that is ok, and actually can be positive if a red wine isn’t so dark light won’t pass through it, many red grapes do not naturally produce dark red colors unless extreme intervention or blending is done to accomplish.
- Branch out to new wine types, countries, price points.
- Experiment, read, and ask those with more experience for suggestions. No matter how much you know, there is always someone with deeper experience – one of the many beauties of wine.
Many winemakers today want to simply be a Shepard and let the varietal and the vintage express itself. A Pinot Noir from a Russian River Valley vineyard generally shouldn’t be the exact same each year. Learn to embrace and appreciate variation.
Let the new decade of non generic, de-globalization of the New World palate commence.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.
Cheers and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog !
p.s. watch for screening of new movie: Escaping Robert Parker