Sunday, August 16, 2009
Mr. Parker, Might We Have Our Rhone Back Now?
So I was scheduled to teach a class Friday evening, a class devoted to the wines from France’s Southern Rhone. Wines known for their wild nature, being racy, exuberant, loud…fun wines full of bright tangy fruit, spice and wild herbs. Not refined or polished like the Syrah in the North…no these are, (ahem…were) Grenache heavy wines, saucy, unpolished, untamed, wild…the kind of wines you want to party with.
So guess who was home at like 8:30 on a Friday night? Had to cancel the class, for the second time, due to lack of attendance. See the thing is our little wild wines, well they seem to be losing their voice. Hell, I’m the French wine buyer for our store and even I can’t get excited about these “new” Southern Rhone wines, how the hell am I supposed to inspire anyone else to drink them? Where the hell did all the jammy fruit, inky extraction and brown sugar come from? What happened to all the spicy red fruit, medium texture and rugged tannin? What up with the sweet goo where my party friends used to be?
Call it Globalization, call it Parkerization the bottom line is, the wines…they aint what they used to be and even worse, they aren’t selling. Pretty freaking amazing to watch the scores and prices skyrocket and the sales go right in the crapper. That something they always talk about…well, it’s giving. So how do we fix it? Let’s tout another “greatest vintage in our lifetime”…awesome, one question though…to who?
I spent a good amount of time tasting in the Southern Rhone last year, my notes just mirrored what I had been feeling for a few years, but worse “Hot, jammy, sweet and rich” oh and now they are even more expensive, perfect just perfect. Seems like the folks in Chateauneuf-du-Pape are taking a page out of the Australian wine playbook, wicked smart that….
Getting harder and harder to find a balanced, typical wine from Southern Rhone..there are still some but the valley between insipid or boring, and new world styled wines, it’s getting narrower, and at least in our little corner of the world…people are noticing. Giant scores, higher prices and those jackasses that are impressed by either, well they have inspired a movement in the Rhone and from the piles of wine that I don’t even want to drink, I know what kind.
So funny thing about score whores and people dazzled by their own bank account, they are the first to STOP spending money on wine when the economy tanks, yup they are back to the 2 Buck Chuck or whatever crap they find at Costco…you missing your loyal, buy every vintage folks now? Welp sorry, you added more Syrah, got rid of all those silly, hard to pronounce indigenous vines, bought those new, heavily toasted barrels. You stirred your soup to sell to the unwashed masses. That ninety-whatever-the-fuck means dick when you have to offer deep discounting just to move your “product” no?
Damn, think this thing pissed me off more than I even knew. I’m always annoyed when the people that build a brand…a place, get priced out of the game, so not cool and absolutely unsustainable. Hey Gigondas and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, hang up on the folks Down Under, give the Burgundians a call.