Just came across this article, written by Mr. Parker, on the FoodandWine.com website. He writes twelve wine predictions to take place between now and 2015. The list is an entertaining read, and I noticed a couple of intriguing items to touch upon.
His second prediction is this:
"2 The wine Web will go mainstream
Internet message boards, Web sites tailored for wine geeks and state-of-the-art winery sites all instantaneously disseminate information about new wines and new producers. Today the realm of cyberspace junkies and hardcore Internet users, these sites will become mainstream in 10 years. A much more democratic, open range of experts, consultants, specialists, advisors and chatty wine nerds will assume the role of today's wine publications."
It appears that Mr. Parker is giving a tacit nod to wine bloggers as a legitimate voice of wine criticism. He, who infamously called them (us) "blobbers", is basically saying that the role of wine critic, held today by wine publications like Wine Spectator, The Wine Enthusiast, and The Wine Advocate, will be taken over by a wide range of new voices. Obviously that includes wine bloggers.
This isn't surprising to me or my fellow bloggers, indeed we're already seeing guys like Joe Roberts and Alder Yarrow become more and more known as respected voices in the wine community. The aforementioned wine guys are moving beyond the digital domain by having their work exposed to a wider audience. That audience is not the wine-blog-reading type, rather, the people who may google a wine's name and then quickly scan the relevant (to them) article. Enough of the self-congratulations though, because wine bloggers do have a long way to go in order to garner the levels of respect accorded the print publications and critics.
Another prediction, the sixth:
"6 Spain will be the star
Look for Spain to continue to soar. Today it is emerging as a leader in wine quality and creativity, combining the finest characteristics of tradition with a modern and progressive winemaking philosophy. Spain, just coming out of a long period of cooperative winemaking that valued quantity over quality, has begun to recognize that it possesses many old-vine vineyards with almost unlimited potential. Spanish wineries recognize that they are trapped neither by history nor by the need to maintain the status quo that currently frustrates and inhibits so many French producers. By 2015, those areas that have traditionally produced Spain's finest wines (Ribera del Duero and Rioja) will have assumed second place behind such up-and-coming regions as Toro, Jumilla and Priorat."
On one hand, having just returned from Spain on a blogger trip, I agree that it is indeed ascendant because there is a lot of seriously good quality wine just waiting to make it here. I saw evidence of this in Navarra, where winery after winery was producing inexpensive, high quality, expressive wine that would appeal to a large part of our wine drinking population here.
However, Mr. Parker fails in that he notes a region already held in high esteem (Rioja) and a region that still is known for producing high priced red wine (Ribera del Duero) versus a more balanced selection. Instead, Parker needs to elevate Toro, Navarra, and La Mancha into the tiers of wine that we should be seeking out from Spain. First off, with Rioja, Parker completely avoids the fact that the stylistic framework of those wines is evolving away from his signature style. That style being a highly extracted, intensely fruity, heavily oaked wine. Momentum is shifting towards fresher, low-oak wines that have a lot more acid than your typical Rioja. A lot of his high scoring Ribera del Duero wines are the same way, as are the Priorat and Jumilla wines he gives those big 90+ points to. Big, overly extracted, heavily oaked wines that are borderline undrinkable.
Lastly, the 11th prediction:
"11 Value will be valued
Despite my doom-and-gloom prediction about the prohibitive cost of the world's greatest wines, there will be more high-quality, low-priced wines than ever before. This trend will be led primarily by European countries, although Australia will still play a huge role. Australia has perfected industrial farming: No other country appears capable of producing an $8 wine as well as it does. However, too many of those wines are simple, fruity and somewhat soulless. Australia will need to improve its game and create accessible wines with more character and interest to compete in the world market 10 years from now."
Once again, Parker sidesteps the fact that he helped create this fruity, soulless wine currently lapping our shores from Australia. He also completely misses the fact that this style of wine does and will continue to hold immense appeal to many casual wine drinkers. The kind of drinker who probably doesn't read any wine blogs, who buys Yellowtail because they've had it and it's easy to drink, and who thinks a 90 point score means the wine is good.
Another question I ask is whether Australia wants to be known as the world's best producer of $8 wine or not? I doubt it, because at the $20 and $40 level there are some wonderful Australian wines to be had. For $8, there are solid, unimpressive, good quality wines available, but if a consumer has only bought those wines before, what's the chance they'll risk it and take that $20 bottle off the shelf? I would argue that they would turn to France or Italy, even California, to buy that "expensive" bottle. Therefore, in the value-wine segment, I have a feeling we'll see Australia's role diminish from "huge" to more along the lines of California. It will take a concerted effort from the Aussies to make this happen though. Hmmm, maybe they should send me on a blogger trip down there?
What do you think? Care to make any predictions for the next five years?