It was the best of times…Best of wine times that Is… While the world and its interlinking economies is in the doldrums it cannot be said the best of times in that respect. We live in the best of wine times where quality has never been better. We also have access to more producers and wines from almost the furthest reaches. When I look at my current review tables I still can’t get over how many wine worlds are represented on my wine table. If this was a decade ago I would have had a very difficult time finding the diversity I have available to me today.
The import wine category isn’t new but it is far richer today than 10 years ago. I live in a nicely sophisticated wine town–San Francisco but I can tell you I would have struggled to find wines from Lebanon, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Uruguay, Republic of Macedonia, Israel, Uruguay and other wine countries would have been impossible or nearly impossible. South African wines was in short supply in terms of what was available on wine shelves–maybe a Chardonnay, maybe a Pinotage. But in some well stocked wine merchants I can find 16 SKUs of South African wine. Ten years ago I would have found no wines from the Balkans. I might have tasted Greek wine (other than Retsina) at Greek food festivals around the country.
We would have never seen wines from lesser known wine regions from better known wine producing nation-states: Italy: Puglia, Südtirol, Sicily, Sardegna; France: Alsace, Bergerac, Jura and I am sure you get the point.
I do expect more wine regions to promote their wines–you will see more diversity to come and more wine countries to find a spot on a wine shelf near you. Not because there are so many shelves to be had but because consumers are intrigued and want a greater diversity of wines to purchase.
We also live in the best of wine quality times. Wine quality is not just a situation where it just happened but it is a resolution of hard work and great effort and sterling conviction. Wine producing nations or appellations have worked endlessly hard to produce the best wines possible. The world of wine is not necessarily an even playing field for several reasons but wine regions have made a conscious choice for the higher road.
As example I look at Canada–a great example of a concerted effort to have a high standard of quality. Okanagan Valley as a more detailed example had a large concentration of hybrid grapes and in the world of cosmopolitan wine drinkers would demand wines from Vitis vinifera. Okanagan Valley to some extent has always had Vitis vinifera but it wasn’t the dominant wine crop until recently. The Osoyoos First Nation had foresight and planted Vitis vinifera on their land in 1976 – they called their winery NK’Mip Cellars. Also, in the late 1980s NAFTA (North America Free Tree Agreement) promotes the uprooting of Hybrid to Vitis vinifera. A fantastic story for Okanagan Valley a mass replanting, the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) is founded and in a generation and half superb quality wines–world class–are now flourishing in Okanagan Valley.
I would not have enjoyed the world of wines that I enjoy today in a not so far yesteryear. We live in a world of variety and vintage call out. Seems nearly foreign that wouldn’t have been standard a 50 to 75 years ago. A lot has changed in a short period of time and I do expect a furthering of quality measures to be a continuous process.
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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