I may have caused a little bit of a ruckus posting the recent New York Times Wrath of Grapes piece on a popular message board forum filled with wine geeks. There’s always been some tension between those who love wines that Robert Parker rates highly and the new “movement” of winemakers trying to emulate more European styles – choosing to bring wines back down to lower alcohol levels and less sugar by picking their grapes at a less ripe state. Many argue that means less flavor, too. As I type, there are 124 replies and more than 5,500 views.
But while mostly-American wine lovers continue to debate these clashing styles, it’s really interesting to see that this discussion has not only hit Europe, but the premiere region in France that makes the kinds of wines Robert Parker enjoys.
Take a look at this Food Republic story: Why Is Bordeaux Suddenly Stealing From The Loire Valley Playbook?
Where the nut grafs say:
One of the world’s most esteemed wine regions, Bordeaux is best known for its rich, oaky reds, typically left to age in your cellar for years, sometimes decades. Fresh, young, easy-drinking stuff? Not so much. But producers in the region are making a concerted effort to change that. And fast.
It’s a stunning shift: If you had told U.S. wine drinkers in the 1990s that Bordeaux would one day need marketing campaigns to emphasize its younger, less oaky wines, they may have guffawed into their Riedel glassware. But this push is, in part, a reaction to the success of wine regions like the Loire Valley, whose wines were virtually not imported into the U.S. until the late ’80s — and which is now the region most known for on-trend natural wine.
The story goes on to say:
But it’s also symptomatic of the “Parkerization” that took hold of the wine market in the 1980s, driving up prices as influential critic Robert Parker’s points system created sudden demand for fuller-bodied, mature wines with tannic structure, precisely the kinds of wines that Bordeaux is known for.
So while we can debate the merits of Parker’s palate – or the over-marketization of wines by the IPOB set – it’s interesting to note that the most revered wine region in the world is taking notice.