To Hugh Johnson, editorial adviser for The World of Fine Wine magazine, a fine wine is one that is worth talking about. But in the snobish world of the fine wine trade, a rather different opinion might reign, and much reduced idea of what a fine wine might be.
Bordeaux’s left and right sides of Gironde river, Burgundy, Champagne, Portugal’s Vintage Port, the Rhône, Italy’s Super Tuscans, Brunello, and Barolo/Barbaresco, top Californians, elite Australians, and a select group of Germans, are the “fine” wines which might not reflect how the wine world has changed over the last decades.
The New Fine Wine
They have been called “new fine wines” — wines from outside the classic regions, made without undue intervention in the cellar from privileged vineyard sites that are farmed well and picked at the appropriate time. This concept challenges the idea that all the great terroirs have already been discovered, and a combination of open-mindedness, viticultural skill, and a sensitive approach in the cellar is creating some very exciting wines from regions that some fine wine brokers have never heard of.
One of the factors that has helped the emergence of these new fine wines is the wine world’s interconnectivity, but wines like these won’t be made without the determination, skill, and vision of the winegrowers. As I travel the wine world I keep meeting others who share this taste for fine wines — old and new — who are also open-minded enough to be able to recognize it even when these wines come from unexpected places. This is not so much a top down process of producers being anointed by an influential critic (which is so very 1990s). It’s more of a bottom-up or middle-out phenomenon. And that’s what D’Agos have being trying to do: to find small producers who make great wines!
It’s not a revolution
So we are seeing the emergence of the new fine wine, but nothing is being overthrown, luckily. The old fine wine will carry on, and the new fine wine will grow alongside it. There will be the odd clash of aesthetic systems, but that’s only to be expected. It really is an exciting time to be a wine drinker, especially a curious, open-minded one.