In 2007 Hugh Johnson said that vintages don't matter anymore and I pretty much agreed. His statement was more of a rebuke to the wine trade and its use of snobbery and insecurity of consumers to inflate prices. This has been especially true of top Bordeaux wines but after a string of difficult years, there has been less emphasis on using vintage as a marketing tool.
This is exactly why we should pay at least a little more attention to vintages. The world is getting warmer but more importantly, the weather is getting more erratic. Our vintage chart is deliberately done in broad strokes on a 1 to 5 scale mainly because it's impossible to be precise for an entire region. Unfortunately it can't do a very good job showing a mixed vintage, so when you see any vintage less than a 4, it makes sense to be a little cautious especially when purchasing expensive wines.
If you would like to read more about how a vintage chart is made, here's the original story on The Making of a Vintage Chart.
Using our wine map tube labels, here are our plans for continued mapping of the wine world.
We would love your input.
Current maps (including Germany which we are now putting the final touches on):
We're now committing the resources to complete all of the maps within the next year. To be honest, when we started, we thought it would be much easier. But we haven't compromised accuracy, fact checking or quality in putting our maps together. Thank you for your patience.
Any amount of input on our mapping would be greatly appreciated. To show our appreciation, we're giving away a set of our first six maps. To enter, simply write a response to this blog post. A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, November 15th 2014.
Please have a go at any one, a few or all of these questions:
Any input is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!
Desert Island Sixes are a mixed half case of the wines that you would want if stranded on a desert island. They may not be the greatest you've ever tasted but ones that you won't tire of (you may be on that island for a while!). Vintages are not given - these are wines that are enjoyed even in bad years. It can be tricky to narrow it down to six (a few bottles may have to be thrown overboard!). Come up with your own - it's a fun way to take a snapshot of your taste in wine!
Here are ours:
Steve's Desert Island Six*:
Deborah's Desert Island Six*:
You can also make up fake lists:
Bordeaux Bob's Desert Island Six*:
Come up with your own - it's a fun way to take a snapshot of your taste in wine!
Post your list below!
This map was almost as difficult to produce as our Wine Map of Italy. There weren’t bribes to paid to shady men in funny hats or anything like that but four different countries with different rules and agencies made it much harder than imagined.
Chile is well documented and straight-forward as you might expect in a exporting powerhouse. Brazil and Uruguay are also fairly straight-forward but some digging through their wine laws was essential to provide more detail. Argentina was just confounding. The Wines of Argentina publishes maps that are somewhat accurate but also somewhat vague, mislabeled, with some regions in the wrong place and some using non-standard names. For example, Uco Valley center isn’t a region – it’s actually called Tunuyán. This is just one of many. When I asked them about this, they were very friendly and a little defensive. Hopefully they’ll revamp their maps in the future. Especially since the internet easily facilitates the bobbling head repetition of errors and misinformation.
A fascinating tasting took place on the New York Times. (watch the video)
Soylent, a new food replacement, was tasted by a sommelier, a gastroenterologist, a personal trainer and a New Times dining reporter. All have sensible reactions but watch sommelier Michael Madrigale for a great example of how to taste.
At the start he's the most non-judgemental and analytical of the tasters. He's actually giving it a fair chance. But his assessment is the most brutally honest and the one to cheer for: "If this was the only thing left on earth to eat - why bother?" Go Madrigale!
. . . corked wineSome corks look strange or have strange things growing on them and it doesn't affect the wine. This one, however, was unbelievably strong and a good (or horrible) example of TCA (the technical acronym for 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole or cork taint). I won't mention the winemaker since I don't want to taint them for something out of their control.
If you're a true wine geek, then you know about the Jura. When I lived in New York, you couldn't go to an "Offline" (translated into human: a wine geek gathering) without seeing a boatload of bottles from the Jura; some Arbois, some Vin Jaune, etc. Wink Lorch, the scribe of Jura Wine scribes, is writing THE BOOK about the region and has started a Kickstarter campaign. To be honest, it's already met its funding goal. So why support it then? Simple. Fame. All Kickstarter backers will be acknowledged in the book. Yes, you too can have a piece of eternal wine geek history! What are you waiting for?!
Italy's at it again. When you look at their constant changes, it’s hard to think of them as a unified country. Does Italy need a wine Garibaldi? Luckily, out of this chaos, a wild variety of good and great wines are made, so it’s hard to complain too much. There has been the overall change to be consistent wine with European law: Both DOCs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and DOCGs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) will now also be known as DOP (Denominazione Origine Protetta). In the same way that AOCs in France will now be known as AOPs. The main change here is in one term – ‘controlled’ becomes ‘protected’ – that at least one person in the EU believes is an important distinction. It’s strange that this is all based on the French AOC system but even they need to change their terminology.
Garibaldi Awards: The winner of the Most Sensible New Region is Romagna DOC. It’s a consolidation of five former DOCs: Sangiovese di Romagna, Trebbiano di Romagna, Pagadebit di Romagna, Cagnina di Romagna and Romagna Albana Spumante. Much more consolidation would be appreciated! The winner of the Most Ridiculous New Region is Vigneti della Serenissima (Serenissima) DOC in Veneto. It’s a huge and very specifically designated DOC for producing Champagne style sparkling wines that covers pretty much all of the best vineyards of Veneto. Serenissima is a nickname for Venice which literally means 'the most serene'. It’s also the nickname for the A4 highway that runs through it as well as Franciacorta in Lombardy, a well established producer of Champagne style sparkling wines. Does Italy really need another Champagne? Are Venetians (and tourists) really going to switch from Prosecco to Serenissima? Is Serenissima just a bad joke?
There are now 73 DOCGs and 403 to 412 DOCs. It’s hard to get an exact figure on DOCs. The last published number was 403 but that would have required nine DOCs to have been abandoned, something that is not mentioned. For now, we’re leaving all 412 on the map.
New DOCGs (DOPs): Bagnoli Friularo is a new DOCG with the same area as Banoli di Sopra DOC in Lazio. Cannellino di Frascati is a new DOCG with the same area as Frascati DOC in Lazio. Castel del Monte Bombino Nero, Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva and Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva are new DOCs that all share the same area as Castel del Monte DOC in Puglia. Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio is a new DOCG in Veneto with the same area as Colli Euganei DOC. Dogliani DOCG, formerly Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC, has expanded its boundaries slightly to the south-west in Piedmont. Elba Aleatico Passito is a new DOCG with the same area as Elba DOC in Tuscany. Frascati Superiore is a new DOCG with the same area as Frascati DOC in Lazio. Lison is a new DOCG with the same area as Lison-Pramaggiore DOC in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Montecucco Sangiovese is a new DOCG with the same area as Montecucco DOC in Tuscany. Montello rosso is a new DOCG with the same area as Montello - Colli Asolani DOC in Veneto. Offida DOCG – elevated from DOC in Marche. Piave Malanotte is a new DOCG with the same area as Piave DOC in Veneto. Rossaso is a former subzone of Friuli Colli Orientali DOC that has been elevated to a DOCG. Suvereto is a new DOCG in Tuscany.
New DOCs: Malvasia di Cagliari, Monica di Cagliari and Moscato di Cagliari are now just know as Cagliari. Giro di Cagliari, Nasco di Cagliari and Nuragus di Cagliari – which all have the same boundaries as Cagliari – remain independent DOCs. Calosso is a new DOC in Piemonte. Casavecchia di Pontelatone is a new DOC in Campania. Falanghina del Sannio is a new DOC in Campania that shares boundaries with Sannio DOC. Maremma Toscana has been elevated from an IGT to a DOC in Toscana. Negroamaro di Terra d’Otranto is a large new DOC at the southern part of Puglia which occupies the entire provinces of Brindisi, Lecce & Taranto. Roma is a large new DOC that includes the vineyards around Rome. Romagna DOC is a consolidation of five former DOCs: Sangiovese di Romagna, Trebbiano di Romagna, Pagadebit di Romagna, Cagnina di Romagna and Romagna Albana Spumante. Sicilia, which includes all of Sicily, has been elevated from an IGT to a DOC. Spoleto, a new white wine DOC in Umbria. Tavoliere delle Puglie is a new DOC in Puglia that covers many northern vineyards. Terre del Colleoni is a new DOC in Lombardia Terre di Cosenza is a new DOC in Campania that covers the entire province of Consenza in the northern part of Campania. Terre di Offida occupies the same area as Offida DOCG. Offida has been elevated from DOC to DOCG status. Terre di Pisa is a new DOC in Tuscany. Tintilia del Molise is a new very large DOC in Molise that covers most of its vineyards but not all. Val d’Arno di Sopra is a new DOC in Tuscany. Valtenèsi is a new DOC in Lombardia. Venezia is a large new DOC in Veneto that covers the entire provinces of Venezia and Treviso. Vigneti della Serenissima (Serenissima) is a very large new DOC in Veneto. Villamagna is a new DOC in Abruzzo.