Winemaker's Wines

In this category I put together all the wines which have a similar profile, regardless of the grape variety, the place of origin, the age of vines, the vintage climatic variations. These are Anti-Terroir wines (despite the label will often try to convince you of the contrary). These are Winemaker's Wines.

Please note that my note does not want to be polemical or negative. The opposite. Very often, I really like these wines. They are extremely well made, enjoyable, hedonistic. Just they fail (at least in my humble opinion) to reflect their terroir, their origins, whilst the winemaker signature is very much evident. 

These wines are praised by many wine critics for their lush, sensual, velvety personality. However, beside featuring an anti-terroir personality, these wines are also anti-wine-experts. What I mean is that, in front of these wines, the wine expert/critic can literally retire: no need to have any knowledge of geography, geology, orography, ampelography, vintage charts, terroir etc. All these shades are wiped out, or at least hidden, by a perfectly executed yet muscular winemaking exercise.

Moreover, if you are a  restaurateur, it becomes very tricky to operate with these Big Flavour wines: on one hand they are usually crowd-pleaser wines, on the other hand they are very much overwhelming on 90% of the food.     

All these wines have common and quite standard characteristics that make the existence of any wine critic/experts superfluous: 

- Saturated ('glass-coating' specialised press would say)  purple/black color 
- Pristine high-pitched black fruit + noble wood on the nose 
- Creamy, superior-quality, oak on the palate
- Plush/velvety tannins
- Concentrated mid-palate
- 14.5% alcohol (although usually in good balance, not hot).
- Full bodied
- Medium acidity
- Limited production
- Heavy, posh bottle
- First quality bleached cork 
- Premium or Cult price

This is the realm of technology. Perfectly executed winemaking protocols. If I was a professional wine critic/expert, I would hate those wines. They could jeopardise my career ... ... ... or maybe not?!?

Anyway, below are two examples I have recently drunk. What is their only defect? The fact that these wines could come from Bulgaria -or any other emerging country- at a fraction of the price. 

  • How these wines are going to compete in this ever challenging international market? Would be their cult status - given by the limited production and big scores- enough to ensure their survival? Would this still appeal to new generation of the winelovers? I don't know.
  • Are these wines boring? Maybe. For sure after a few glasses.
  • Are these wine disappointing? I think so, especially when offered at a Premium or Cult price. At this price point I would like to see something more than just an excellent winemaking act. Winemakers are replaceable, they are technicians not artists. Specificity of a site, faithfulness to its unique characteristics, are instead irreplaceable. That's what I value most.   

Lodovico Antinori - BISERNO Bibbona 2011 (£90)

Cabernet Franc. Organoleptic profile as above. Stunning balance and elegance. Good Persistence. Very well made, but tasted blind you couldn't say it's a Cab Franc coming from Bolgheri. Consulting Winemaker Michel Rolland, held in high esteem by U.S. critics.

Matias Riccitelli - REPUBLICA del MALBEC 2012 (£30)

Malbec. Organoleptic profile as above. Very plush and balanced apart from a slightly bitter note on the mid palate. Good Persistence, slightly less elegant. Very well made, but tasted blind, it's just a big flavour new-world wine. How could you say it's a Malbec coming from Lujan de Cuyo?Winemaker Matias Riccitelli, held in high esteem by UK critics.


Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed these wines, or at least the first glass or two of them.
Would I spend all this money on them again? No, thanks. Not even if some famous wine critic would give them 98/100pts, 18/20pts or 5 gold-medals.

The other option is that my point of view is completely wrong and Robert Parker was right in saying today many wines taste alike because most of them are being drunk when too young. Thanks to advanced production techniques, today's wines hit the market in their childhood and they also exhibit a slower evolution with respect to yesterday's wine. In other words they take much more time to show off their individual personality. 
"It's like walking into a maternity ward and looking at all the newborn kids, and other than the different colors, they all look alike. When I first started tasting, you'd see much more evolution in the wines at an earlier stage than you do today," he said at the NYT.
But if this is true, then what's the role and usefulness of wine critics? How they can help consumers if the wines they rank taste all the same when they hit the market? How they can give scores at such an early stage? Do wine critics have special powers? Do they go to the future and come back showing us the path to the truth? Even more the critics that can assess wines during barrel sampling! Wizards! 

Marty McFly: Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah! Are you telling me that you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?
Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?  


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