Suddenly it seems as if the shelves of wine shops have been simultaneously invaded by a new species. Bred predominantly but not exclusively in places like California and Australia, these bottlings are markedly different from the traditional wines of countries like France and Italy—different not only in taste and texture but in alcohol levels and aging potential. Loved by some, loathed by others, these recent arrivals have come to be called, somewhat inadequately, big wines.
But are big wines too much of a good thing? To debate the relative merits of big versus traditional wines, F&W invited a proponent of each style to share his views. Making the case for big wine was Brian Duncan, the wine director of Chicago's Bin 36 restaurant and the Great Lakes Fish House in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Robert Bohr, wine director of Cru restaurant in New York City, rose to the defense of traditional wines.