Wine times are changing. Here are three ways to see it clearly.
- Wine is now produced in new regions, at latitudes and altitudes that would have surprised winemakers just two generations ago.
- Wine is consumed by a more diverse audience than ever, and this diversification will only grow in the years to come.
- And the grapes used to make wine themselves evolve in different ways: new plantings of traditional grapes adapt to unfamiliar environmental conditions, for example, and hybrid grapes (some of which were developed as a result of harsh environments). non-traditional culture). ) are enter the lexicon of what is considered “good wine”.”
These are some of the fundamental changes underway in the wine industry, economically, culturally and environmentally. This means that as an industry and as industry communicators in particular, we are going to have to learn new things.
This week, I had the chance to taste some of the wines that portend a future that doesn’t look like the one we have now: the Métissage Blanc 2017 and the Métissage Rouge 2016, both from the Ducourt Family of Bordeaux , and which both indicate “Wine from experimental vines” on their back label. Writing about these wines, made from “experimental vines”, is an opportunity to proactively accept the changes that await us and. Today I would like to begin exploring how we can communicate about wine in new ways.
Wouldn’t it be cool if, from the start, we talked about these wines differently than the traditional norms of the past? Wouldn’t it be interesting to focus on the experience of wine itself, in the whole context of its creation, its consumption and its “experiments”, rather than continuing to restrict our communication about wine to some descriptors that we can find in the lexicon for a tasting note?
Wouldn’t it be interesting to try?
At the same time as I was tasting the Métissage wines last week, I was reading a small and pretty book called Silence in the age of noise. The author, a Norwegian adventurer and philosopher named Erling Kagge, cites Ludwig Wittgenstein’s assertion that we can show that for which we find no words.
“What can be shown cannot be said,” wrote Wittgenstein.
That’s how I feel about these wines.
This is partly because these wines should not be talked about (or written about) in the same way we are used to writing about wine, because they themselves are something different from what we think of. we’re used to it.
- As wine growers and concerned about the environmental impact of wine as an agricultural product, the Ducourt family decided to plant disease-resistant varieties, obtained by crossing traditional Bordeaux grapes with more robust wild vines.
- The word “métissage” itself translates from French as “breeding”, in the context of the history of the vine.
- Métissage Blanc comes from a grape variety called Réselle, which is a hybrid of Sauvingon Blanc, Riesling and wild vines, while Métissage Rouge comes from Cabernet Jura, whose parents are Cabernet Sauvingon and wild vines.
Partly, too, I feel a preference for “show, don’t tell” about these wines because my attention is focused more on the context and circumstances of the production of these wines than, perhaps, on the wine itself. -even.
Can I describe the flavor, aroma, texture and palate? Of course, and it is interesting for tasters to know how these wines compare and contrast with other wines to which they are more accustomed. But these words are not, in my opinion, what matters most here. What matters most, beyond what can be said, is what can be shown.
So what do these wines show? What do matter? These wines offer an excellent opportunity to look beyond the glass, at the context that surrounds them and the currents of influence that have shaped their production.
It’s important that these wines exist in the first place.
You may have heard of the Bordeaux regulations in recent weeks, this will make it possible to plant “new” (i.e. non-Bordeaux) grape varieties in addition to those long identified by law as suitable and acceptable for the Bordeaux region. But these wines precede this new regulation. These wines and the grapes that compose them are precursors. They are the canary in the coal mine, and that canary sings.
Consumer response is important, as is the unknown factor.
Consumer reaction to the wines naturally matters, and to be honest, several friends (who are not in the wine business) who also tasted the wines were not as complimentary as I was, particularly about the Cabernet Jura which just seemed too low to them. a path they do not know.
This was clearly a question of the unknown, which works both for and against the field.
The novelty factor goes against the consumer’s reception of the wine, i.e. when they don’t really know what to do with a grape they’ve never tasted before, their response is therefore linked to fear of the unknown and established expectations. of what a wine “should” be.
However, the novelty factor works in the winery’s favor with another group of consumers, who invite curiosity into the equation and give wines the benefit of the doubt. For them, the threshold of “good wine” is more dynamic and perhaps also more malleable.
For these consumers too, tasting an unusual wine from never-before-tried grapes increases the level of “cool experience,” which, as we keep hearing, is necessary to engage the next generation of consumers. This is perhaps the most important takeaway from this experiment and these “experimental wines”.