One of the biggest myths in wine today, constructed on half-truths, inaccurate observations and journalistic manipulation, is that the wine market has become so globalized that international companies are producing oceans of monochromatic wines from a limited number of grapes that all taste the same. This radical and profoundly false point of view holds that individuality and artisanal winemaking have been replaced by oceans of vapid wines made with little taste or character. This is appallingly untrue. Moreover, there has been little serious discussion on the subject, and it cannot be backed by any specific evidence.
The fact is that wine quality is not only significantly superior to what it was a mere 10 years ago (much less 30 years ago), but there is substantial evidence that the diversity of wine styles is greater than it was a decade or two ago. For example, when I first began tasting, and even many years later, it was impossible to find wine made from indigenous Italian varietals such as Aglianico, Nero d’Avola or Piedirosso. Today, many of these indigenous grapes are producing world-class wine in once-obscure Italian regions such as Sicily, Campania and Molise.
Much the same thing has happened in Spain with grapes such as Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignane and Mencía, which are the source of some top bottles from long-forgotten areas such as Priorato, Toro, Jumilla, Bierzo, Navarra, Somontano and Catalonia. There wasn’t a wine to be found from any of these areas 30 or even 15 years ago, yet today, any self-respecting importer of Spanish or Italian wine would be embarrassed not to offer a selection of wines from these places.
A quality revolution has also taken place in previously unheralded regions of France, such as the southern Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon and even Bordeaux. Who, for example, had heard of Fronsac or the Côtes de Castillon 10 or 15 years ago? Today both these Bordeaux “satellites” are esteemed for top-quality, reasonably priced wines. There are also extraordinary wines from producers in Australia and New Zealand, and more recently, several countries in Eastern Europe. The explosion in quality and diversity of wines in various parts of the United States has been just as stunning, and includes Pinot Noirs from Oregon, the Russian River Valley, the Sonoma Coast and the Santa Rita Hills northwest of Santa Barbara, as well as a range of wines from Washington State and New York. Each of these places has produced not only very notable but very distinctive wine.
Robert Parker: 30 Years of Wine Trends
- The Rise of the Winemaking Consultant
- The World’s Most Influential Wine Consultants
- The Rise of the Wine Critic
- The Culinary Revolution
- The Explosion of Diversity in Wine
- Exciting New Wine Regions
- The New Philosophy of Winemaking
- The Creation of Healthier Vineyards
- Wine Is Now Number One
- Huge Increases in Popularity and High Prices