November 11th, 2019 | Competitions
In recent times I have noticed that a few reputable journalists have started to question our popular, and sometimes long-held beliefs about wine. Some of the doubts being raised are, for example, the use of points to rate wines, and more recently, the development and definition of ‘natural’ wines.
As you may already know I have never been a big fan of wines being rated or categorised by points – there are just too many possible anomalies. Some fear that the worldwide influence of the points system will eventually mean that certain styles will dominate (and possibly all taste that same), and that lighter wines could lose out, simply because they are less likely to get a attract good scores. Wine shop managers sometimes dismiss ratings as overly simplistic — numbers devoid of context, such as a wine merchant’s sense and knowledge of individual customer tastes. Finally, I have to add that over the years, points and medals have occasionally (in a few proven cases) been abused in order to mislead consumers. Conclusion? That the points system just might not be as effective as we have all come to expect.
It is the lack of official regulation or certification for using the phrase “natural wine” that has now created something of an existential crisis. It’s up to winemakers and those who sell, promote and drink their wines to decide whether a bottle fits the ‘natural’ bill. In an effort to distance themselves from this watered-down, misused and sometimes abused term, some producers who truly work with minimal intervention are now turning their backs on this new movement as a whole. For consumers, that only results in further muddying of a term and ideology that’s already steeped in confusion.
In our business we already have organic, biodynamic and sustainable wine making – the first two of these can be certified, and the third simply relies on producers to use common-sense and mindful wine making practices. However, this should not mean that we abandon or ignore the advances in wine making technology that has been made over the last decades – certainly we all want wines with character, but we also want wines that are reasonably stable and will not fall-apart too quickly!