Fallen Idols

It’s not all about reputation and name recognition anymore

I love Bordeaux wines, I have always loved them, perhaps it’s because my wine training started with Bordeaux wines back in London. I will never forget when I was invited to a trade tasting session of St Emilion wines and how I fell in love with the wines.

Time led to the discovery of amazing wines from Medoc, Pauillac, and the rest of Bordeaux. Something similar happened when I toured Italy, enjoying amazing wines from Barolo, Brunello, Amarone…

However, for the last three years, or vintages if you prefer, my love affair with all those idols from France and Italy kind of ended. I keep trying them, my eyes still in love, but I find nothing but uninteresting wines at high prices. With very few exceptions, and Chateau Le Puy is one (thanks Catherine Guo for bringing such a jewel to Vietnam), most Bordeaux wines that I try are just plain standard, with almost no complexity, poor length and definitely no wow effect.

The same has happened with the many Brunello, Amarone and Barolo wines that I have been trying, where is that wonderful feeling that such wines used to provide?

Between trade and private tastings and what I buy, I tend to try over 2,000 wines a year, so it is not that I have a far too limited exposure to what is being produced, but the opposite. I was in Vinexpo, the largest wine trade exhibition in Asia, just a couple of weeks ago, a great opportunity to try and discover, but again I was disappointed, very!

I was starting to get worried that my palate has either become far too picky or I have simply lost it. So I decided to talk to and try wines together with a few people from the trade and it seems that the general consensus is that wineries in those areas, producing such iconic wines, have such a good reputation and demand that they have been getting far too relaxed, and are no longer producing the wines they used to.

In the case of Italian icons, it seems that the combination of a series of bad harvests plus the new trend by which wineries are making “modern” wines that are ready to drink earlier than usual (so that they can sell them quicker) is resulting in relatively disappointing wines, that somehow are still maintaining their high prices.

This makes me wonder, if these wineries continue to relax and operate based on what they achieved in the past, how much longer before people realize and start buying the great wines being made, usually much cheaper, in other areas outside of Bordeaux and Piedmont.

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