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 This radical and profoundly false point of view holds that individuality and artisanal winemaking have been replaced by oceans of vapid wines made with little taste or character.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.
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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.