Many colleagues today bemoan that we are losing our true winemaking artisans to a kind of oenological ‘industrial revolution’, where wines are made in labs, by recipe, to satisfy ‘target consumers’, ‘market profiles’ and ‘Wine Critics’ (gate-keepers as they are referred to by trade insiders). The result being that all we may end up with is a universal mouth-wash so bland and boring as to inspire epitaphs instead of poetry.
The past fifteen years have seen a global transformation in the international wine market: walk into just about any wine shop -in virtually any country- and you will get a sense of the true globalization of the industry; racks and stacks of wines from the four corners of the planet are each given conspicuous floor-space.
New World producers have been the main beneficiaries of this wine label globe-trotting; forging reputations built largely around value-for-money, consistency, varietal labeling and lower-end prices. The commercial impact of this global phenomenon has seen the rise and rise of the large wine company, huge wine empires with massive and far-reaching global operations and wineries that are known within the industry as wine refineries or tank farms.
Today over 80 percent of all of Australia’s wine is produced by just four wine companies, 70 percent of all of California’s wine is produced by just five wineries, consultant Michel Rolland is the winemaker at over 200 wineries.
Mechanical technology in the vineyards means that harvest costs are kept low and competitive, new technology in the wineries means that winemakers can /manipulate/ wines like never before. Consistency and low prices certainly have their place however; is this all a bit of a dumbing down of the wine industry?
Are we, (the consumer) victors or victims in this globalized market? Are we sacrificing some of the vinous equivalent to virtuoso jazz-improv for more easy-listening, instead of discovering world-music are we being force-fed an increasing diet of elevator music?
An *artisan* (from Italian: /artigiano/) is a skilled manual worker who hand crafts products. The term can also be used as an adjective to refer to the craft of hand making food products such as bread, wine and cheese.
This article was publish in The Phnom Pehn Post Newspaper, Cambodia. All Rights Reserved.