The world of wine can generally be split into two halves, the familiar and the new, two pieces of a whole that keeps us excited and satisfied. Interestingly there is some similarity between the two. With the familiar we discover new vintages and producers with some regularity, while the new is all based on those moments of discovery. Of course at some point, as we delve deeper into this world, some of what was new becomes familiar, pushing us to dig ever deeper into the hidden corners to uncover those moments of excitement that keep wine tasting fresh and thrilling.
We live in exciting times when it comes to these discoveries. Looking back a decade or two or three it’s fascinating to see what was yet to be discovered. We spoke in such broad terms about new regions. Chablis and Bordeaux may have been familiar, and perhaps Chianti, but the Loire Valley or Piedmont on the other hand were exciting new regions, both for consumers and the trade as well. Retailers and sommeliers were always on the lookout for the next great thing, and when building off such a narrow base it was easy to say that Barolo, or Barbaresco if you were really in with the cool kids, was the next undiscovered gem.
With the passing of decades these wines have become quite common and familiar, as have our understanding of the reasons behind their character. Back then it was enough to be different, today we, the wine consuming public want to know why. Our easy assumptions about wine, old world wines are tannic or acidic while new world wines are soft and fruity, have for the most part fallen by the wayside. No today we want to know why a white wine has such minerality. We want to understand the difference between warm climates and cool climate, between vines grown in volcanic soils and alluvial soils.
OK, well maybe not that many of us really want to know such detail but certainly much of the group that makes up the world’s opinion leaders, sommeliers, retailers and journalists, need to know, if for no other reason than to be able to write about these reasons and to be able to break the news to all of our followers. Interestingly this has opened up the world of wine to regions that had difficulty messaging this audience in the past. We are poised on a second revolution of wine, the first being in the vineyards and the cellars. This second revolution though is an information revolution. Not only are regions researching and offering this information like never before, in part due to the difficulty of developing a market based on the character of their wines alone, but with today’s media they are also able to get all this valuable and fascinating information into the hands of the avant garde, and into the hands of all they evangelize to.
Case in point, the wines of Greece.