One of the raps against the modern style of winemaking--primarily meaning forward fruit, polished texture and maybe some prominent oak--is that it makes all wine taste alike. My colleague James Suckling touched on it in his blog, wondering whether calling a wine "international" in style has a negative connotation.
The issue came up as a bunch of us Wine Spectator editors talked about a little tasting exercise in our meetings this week following Saturday night's Grand Tour event in Las Vegas. We each brought a wine we liked from the big tasting. After tasting them blind, it was clear that six of the seven wines fit the description of forward fruit and polished texture.
After some back and forth, we decided that "international style" does have a negative slant. "Modern style" was seen as a more neutral term.
In tasting the wines blind, each of these wines had a distinct personality, both the modern ones and the other. We all recognized the Pinot Noir as a silky, subtle wine. The Portuguese red had racy acidity, and the Priorat red bristled with grippy tannins. The Argentinian red offered unique spice and coffee notes that didn't come from too much oak, and the Brunello had all the earthy character, length and elegance you would expect, but plenty of gorgeous raspberry flavor.
I brought a Washington Syrah, which was so lithe and polished that it fooled some of my buddies into thinking it was a Pinot Noir. I could see why.
Interestingly enough, the one older wine, a 1998 Pomerol, tasted primarily like a really nice older wine, but nothing about it screamed "Pomerol." In fact, it seemed overly earthy and a bit rustic, more like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
To me, nothing about the modern style keeps a wine from being individualistic. This bunch certainly had plenty of personality.
What's your experience?
Scott Mcdonald — Chicago, IL — May 9, 2006 12:12pm ET
Eric Arnold — NY, NY — May 9, 2006 3:26pm ET
Jared Wagner — Maple Valley, WA — May 9, 2006 3:44pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — May 9, 2006 6:33pm ET
John Rater — minneapolis minnesota usa — May 9, 2006 9:03pm ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — May 10, 2006 1:01pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — May 15, 2006 2:22pm ET
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