what do you think about the prolification of the new world style showing up in old world countries like Italy and France? is it positive or negative that certain grape varietals are showing up everywhere on the planet and creating a lake of wine? would love to hear your feedback

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I am personally backing up this initiative from wine growers in the old world changing their style as long as it does not move away too much from the "terroir" of where the wine comes from. I am sponsoring a small estate in the Medoc, Chateau Rollan de By, owned by Jean Guyon, that is in this trend.
The wine mostly made of Merlot, because of the soil in the northern Medoc favoring Merlot versus Cabernet Sauvignon, and is aged in specially made oak barrels that are larger than taller. That affects the wine to have a gentle touch with the oak and ease the punch down of the cap which diffuses easier and affectively the color components and flavors throughout the wine. Result is a gently wine, still with the characteristic of the Medoc style, but with silky tannins and smoky aromas that tends to be between the new world style (fruity, smoky, oak but soft overall and not earthy) and the old world style (earthy, dry tannins, need to age before appreciate the aromas etc...).
This is only one example of the new era in Bordeaux for whoever understood there is a need to adapt to the World economy in wine - This is to make wine to be drunk earlier and so with a style made to please any palate, and not to stay with old fashioned opinions that a wine must be as the ancestors were doing.
Another example is in Chianti, if we were drinking still today the old barrel aged Chianti, then it will not be well received, but there has been a new trend years ago to fashioned with a bit of modernism their wines, even adding Cabernet Sauvignon, that now, respect and recognition has been received by the Chianti region.
I like the movement towards open mindedness of varietal planting and blending in old world viticultural areas. I think that the style that comes along with this movement is directly in response to a change of consumer purchasing. My only concern would be the when old world varietals "drop off" in favor of more trendy varietals made in a more consumer friendly manner.
I have been of the opinion recently that the rate of wine consumption has increased greatly in the United States and other New World countries, causing the change in style produced by classic old world regions. I think that we are just seeing a pendulum swing in style that makes the consumption easy for these relatively novice wine drinkers that will move the other way as they become more educated in available production and their palate.

The "revolution" in vineyard and winery technology around the world has been going on for quite some time now. While there are many who object that improved technology in Old World vineyards often comes at the expense of terroir, I tend to take a long term view: such things are just part of a phase that every winemaker, grower or proprietor worth his or her salt needs to go through.

The house of Antinori,, for instance, has gone through as many or more phases and periods of experimentation as any winery in the U.S. How are they to know what clones of Sangiovese, or which types of trellising, cooperage, blending grapes or yeast cultures,, etc. are best for their wines unless they actually try them in both experimental and commercial batches? Quite often, storied producers of long standing like the Antinori's try many different things for many years, and end up pretty much back in the same place they were twenty, thirty years ago!

Personally, I often find "new" styles of, say, French, Italian, Spanish or Geman wines repugnant? An oaky Muscadet? Yuck. "Supertuscans" -- ridiculously expensive, underflavored, and overrated. Southern French Grenache with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon... whatever for?

Sometimes, however, it's only because I'm the one who's stuck in the mud. For many years I didn't appreciate dryer styles of German Riesling, for instance -- found them too tart and consumer unfriendly. Maybe it was because earliest examples of dry German Rieslings (from the '70s and '80s) weren't all that good. Be as it may, in recent years I've come around to them, and find them to be quite useful with many of the types of foods I like to eat (especially Pacific Rim style fusions); and in fact, superior to traditional sweet/fruity styles of Rieslings.

On the other hand, I often find innovations of traditional wine types to be extremely exciting and flavorful. Like barrique fermented single vineyard Alsatian whites, barrel fermented Pinot Gris from Germany, and many of newer, fresher, fruit driven reds of Bordeaux and Burgundy, which I find far more appealing than the dreary, sharp, dried out, brettanomyces infested Bordeauxs and Burgundies so common twenty, thirty years ago. In these cases, "terroir" (and "terroirists") be damned -- if it tastes better, it's *got* to be better!

But is it? Well, ultimately it's a matter of taste, as always. But the bottom line is: wines from every country, especially in newer wine producing countries, will always go through periods of development and sometimes drastic change as new ways and even fads find their way into the picture. I find that in itself to be exciting. The only time it really is bad is when new generations of winery/vineyard owners become too lazy or cheap, and then they overproduce or simply neglect all the details and labor necessary to produce truly interesting or great wine. That's when "change" sucks, and should be acceptable to no one.
It’s really a negative when the regional wines lose their soul to chase the masses. Chianti should taste like Chianti not Primitivo. Napa Cab's show an Aussie Shiraz trait now. Wrong Wrong Wrong. A Bordeaux drinkable upon release? Unheardable 10yrs ago. It just confuses the evolving market of consumers.
Well, therein lies the perplexity, George. Twenty five, thirty years ago, most Chianti tasted like crap. But clonal research, vineyard technology, and oenological advancements helped changed that. Never mind terroir, for producers in Tuscany it was all about improving quality, and the result has been critical and (of course) financial success for them.

Is this wrong, or is this right? Well, if you ask them in Tuscany they'll say that they are better at bringing out the terroir in wine -- the true expression of their vineyards -- than every before.

In Napa Valley it would be equally difficult to find successful Cabernet Sauvignon producer who do not feel that they, too, are bringing out the true character of the grape and terroir by what they now know about grape growing, fermentation and elevage. Consumers are responding positively, so who's wrong, who's right?

My point was: it's really up to you as an individual consumer. Just to use myself as an example, I'm probably like you, George, in that I don't like the majority of new fangled Napa Valley Cabernets coming out. I find them too gaudy, oversaturated in color, tannin and extract. Show-offy. My personal preferences still remain old standbys like Beaulieu, or organics like Frog's Leap, and wines that show more balance than power like Selene, Dalla Valle and Corison. The same with Chianti -- I find many to be pure and classic (Fontodi, Fonterutoli, Emma, di Ama, among others), but find many others (including most Supertuscans) to be overextracted, almost repugnant.

But the question of "old" vs. "new" -- technology vs. terroir -- is not just black and white anymore. Actually, it never has been.
I love the debate; this is what makes it fun. I agree with most of what everyone is saying but not all.

I totally agree with the new modern technology in making wine that allows for full expression of the grape, but however I strongly disagree in the idea that they should be allowed to plant cabernet, merlot and all the usual suspects in every corner of the earth, have it be blended with the local indigenous varietals to "make them better". I agree with changing the formula for Chianti but only by taking out the trebbiano and allowing the winemakers to blend the other indigenous varietals, using modern technology, to express the grapes to their fullest potential but not to add cab and any other international grape varietal.

Then why make Chianti if the blend can be made to resemble the super Tuscan blend. Hey I have a great idea lets plant some cab in nuit saint George and blend it, let it express itself.

When does it stop? It now has become a capitalistic approach to an ethereal art, what does the US pallet crave? Let’s give it to them in any form possible, let's throw wood chips in the fermenting tank, we can get it cheaper, what? Can’t do that in Italy let's change the law it’s obviously unfair.

In 30 years we will be drinking wine whose only difference will be the climate changes. No more art just black and white, how boring!

Please don't take offense to my sarcasm and wittiness; I am practicing to start my new hobby of writing for the reader’s digest.

When does it stop? When people stop buying it. Otherwise, I think winemakers everywhere should never be prevented from doing what they feel is right. Why, for instance, can a California or Chilean producer plant anything they want anywhere they want, but not a Tuscan producer? It's called *freedom*, and as an American at heart I'm all for it for everyone around the world.

And besides, the Tuscany example is not a good one to hold up. The reason Tuscan wines were so poor for so many years was because of government restraints. The people who codified rules for DOC wines meant well, but in doing so they set back the wine industry in Tuscany a good fifteen, twenty years. If it weren't for the number of courageous Tuscan producers who said "no, this is not the best way to do it," and who were also willing to drop DOC or DOCG designations in favor of their own Vino di Tavolo labels, the wines of Tuscany would never have attained the prestigious, ultra-premium reputation they enjoy today. In short, Tuscany is the perfect example of why technology should take precedence over tradition (especially dumb traditions).

So back to your question, "when does it stop?" Frankly, I hope it never does. The big winner is you, the consumer. You don't have to buy wines that you feel don't taste "authentic." Let the big spenders do that. But as a consumer, you shouldn't have to worry about not being able to find, say, Chiantis that represent the very finest traditions. Because they're definitely out there (re the producers I mentioned in my previous commentary), and in larger numbers than ever before. You're enjoying the best of possible worlds!





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