One of the more endearingly maddening things about European wine classifications is that they try to lump location, in aspects that are increasingly specific, and “quality,” in ways that are often nebulous.
Over at MyNameIsBarbera.com, I take this dichotomy head-on, in my dime-store-philosphical way (not yet trademarked, but it might as well be at this point). Obviously, the focus of that piece is on the “quality pyramid” as it pertains specifically to Barbera in Asti and the Monferrato area, but the idea that the pyramid is more reflective of stylistic personality rather than core quality (in the I’m-good-therefore-you-are-bad sense) is, I think, something that plagues many of the most well-established wine regions not just in Northern Italy, but in all of Italy; and, arguably, all of Western Europe.
Pour a glass, have a read, and then we can argue in buzzed pseudo-philosophy about it all!
THE PUZZLE OF THE (BARBERA QUALITY) PYRAMID
Ostensibly, vinous Chilean powerhouse Concha y Toro is a budget-minded wine lover’s dream. With five major facilities across the county, and twenty million cases produced annually, they have pretty much nailed the tasty-and-clean-and-varietally-correct-juice-for-very-low-prices thing.
But this is me, so of course we’re not going to talk about that, right?
Nope. What we’re going to talk about are a couple of top-tier Cabernet wines from their premium lines, the less than 200K case, winery-within-a-winery concepts focusing on single vineyards, which I tasted at in Maule when I visited Chile on a media tour late last year.
Because, well, yeah, I am that guy who does that sort of thing…
Read the rest of this stuff »
As a wine-scribe-type-guy, I absolutely despise writing about terroir.
If there is another term (aside from “optimal ripeness“) that is more flippantly overused in the wine business than terroir, I am unaware of it. In fact, its overuse – and the fear that it engenders – is so ingrained in me that I am incapable of typing the word terroir without italicizing it. As if, somehow, calling further attention to my use of it will protect me from the madness surrounding its misuse.
Yeah, good luck with that, right?
I was asked to tackle the concept – in writing – for my Monferrato gig, and, since I am supposedly a professional and all of that, I couldn’t say “no, thanks, I’m good.”
And so I offer you my humble take on what is often the least humble notion in wine; including why I specifically despise writing about it, why I disagree with the common English translation definitions of the word, why the word terroir shouldn’t be used as often as it is, and, fianlly, why I think that Northern Italian Barbera truly has a legitimate claim on its use. Check out the full essay on MyNameIsBarbera.com
MONFERRATO: BARBERA’S SOUL