I just read a recent post by Eric Asimov of the New York Times on his blog The Pour. The post, titled “Does Your Wine Need Viagra” deals primarily with the issue of alternative sources used by wine producers for imparting the OAK flavors to wines (chips, powders & staves instead of barrels). But the article itself, as well as the myriad of comments that follows seems to be praising the old world producers, how they let the wine make itself, without the use of modern technology. While the New World producers (specifically California) are using all sorts of alternative technologies and products to make wines that lose that something special.
While a bit extreme, I thought the most poignant comment was made by “Swantine” who basically called out all the “wine snobs” (his/her words) and declared that he/she will continue to drink California (and other new world) wines (despite all the negative allusions to California wines) as he/she enjoys these wines or as he/she put it “I will simply continue to enjoy the array of lovely wines from California, Australia, Chile and Europe JUST BECAUSE THEY TASTE GOOD and go down my throat “singing hymns” as the Scottish say about their single malt whiskey!”
My take on all of this falls somewhere in the middle. I am neither an exclusively new world OR old world wine lover. I tend to prefer Pinot Noir made in old world regions while I often prefer Cab (or Bordeaux blends) from new world regions. Then again, anyone who has read enough of my posts knows that I am an Israeli wine advocate, and I tend to think of Israeli wine as somewhere between old & new world wines.
Basically, I understand the debate regarding modern winemaking practices vs. the time tested more hands-OFF approach. But I think it has gone too far…and has become completely inaccurate. I recently read an article that discussed the use of modern winemaking techniques and how it has led to the possibility of no more BAD vintages in France – something that was a regular occurrence (so bad it was almost considered a wasted year) just 10-20 years ago. And on the other hand I have tried some new-world fruit bombs that seem to be so laboratory produced and void of any true distinctive characteristics that it too is sad.
I’m not sure that I have any real words of wisdom here. The adage “can’t we all just get along” comes to mind, and I say it as I believe that you have the so-called purists on one side of the argument maintaining the pretentious aura of wine and you have the hi-tech-ies who seem to be missing such a critical component of true hand made wine.
You have heard me say this countless times before, but I’ll say it again. Just drink what YOU like, or as “Swantine” put it, drink what “Taste(s) good” to you!
My report on my day in Sonoma coming soon…
Until then, happy WHATEVER wine tasting.