Saturday, October 08, 2005

Go Jancis!

If you missed this article in the SF Chron or at Fermentations, be sure you read it. Among Jancis' gems:

"It is not just small, homespun operations that disprove this myth about "industrial" New World wine. There could hardly be better-funded wineries than Napa Valley cult winemakers Araujo Estate Wines and Harlan Estate, yet here every bit as much effort is put into refining every detail of vine growing and winemaking as at France's first growths - perhaps more, because they don't have a centuries-old track record to fall back on. I am not the only wine traveler to feel that there is no one in the wine world more meticulous than California's top vintners, with their precision viticulture, yield monitors in their vineyards and the most expensive oak barrels in the world in their cellars.

So, all this anti-New World stuff is without doubt a slur on the current reality. Of course there are wine producers more industrial than those described above, in Australia and California in particular. But the reason the French resent the likes of Constellation Brands, Hardys, E. & J. Gallo Winery and Yellow Tail is that they are much more successful at branding and marketing than their large French counterparts, such as Les Grands Chais de France, Les Vignerons du Val d'Orbieu, Domaine du Castel and the Bordeaux negociants.

I am concerned about the prevailing myth about French wine producers being much more "pure," noble and artisanal than their New World counterparts not just because it is inaccurate. As one who loves French wine, I am worried that this sort of inaccuracy will encourage the average mediocre vigneron (grape grower/winemaker) in France to believe there is no need to make any effort to improve the quality of what he or she produces. It is enough, according to this myth, simply to be French. (emphasis added- HJ)

Well said. Can we finally get past the concept that just because a wine is made by a small producer or a French producer (or better yet - small and French!!!) that it must be good?


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