Ahhh! What a trip down memory lane! But there were worse - I vividly remember “Don Cortez Spanish Burgundy” - a sulphurous, tongue-rasping mess (red) or a sulphurous gut-wrencher (white). Best taken to other people’s parties (this is student days we are talking about - I certainly wouldn’t do that now).
But after all these years, I too have my “avoid” list. It’s not the same as yours, but so what? Vive la difference! And despite their popularity at the time, I doubt that anyone at the time regarded the wines listed above as Wine Stars in any way - maybe just the producers’ bean-counters.
If a few recent experiences (mainly “down South”) are anything to go by the next big thing looks to be Argentinian Torrontes. It seems to be being taken up by the same circles who insisted previously on serving me copious amounts of ice cold, tasteless Pinot Grigio (known as Pinot Grungio in our house).
PG is a grape I just don’t get. However I’ve had a couple of promising experiences with Torrontes.
I’ve had several amazing Argentinian wines this last year or so. Susanna Balbo Malbec is a firm favourite (I hope we’ll see the signature back on the WS list) but my biggest surprise was a Chardonnay we had with dinner at the Hand and Flowers. I was dubious, I admit it. However the sommelier convinced me to try it. Trapezio Plus ++ 2012. Stunning.
I think Chardonnay is ripe to come back in fashion and Argentina might just be well set to ride the crest on the basis of quality/price ratio…
Taste is so personal and you are right to concentrate your drinking in the areas that give you the most pleasure! The more people who hate riesling the better as I don’t want to see a Burgundy like price hike on Mosel wines.
There’s a fairly recent thread where most of us who do like PG agreed that the grape does best in Alsace and the Alto Adige, but I can’t immediately find it. I’m not a fan of pinot grigio either, but neutral sorts of wine have their place in the world (e.g. with a spicy Mediterranean sort of dish).
@Taffy-on-Tour Glycol in Austrian wine stopped being an issue last century, for me I always get excited when I see a tall bottle with a red top and white stripe on the capsule, haven’t yet had a bad Austrian wine.
Agreed, with bells on! In my very humble opinion, Austria is producing some of the most exciting reds and whites around at the moment. Even for entry level wines, the quality is regularly on the very good to excellent side of the scale. And I think this is a trend that is going to continue. Amen!
A very small number of Austrian producers cynically wrecked their nations industry by the addition of small amounts of Ethylene Glycol. If I remember, this was done as a sweetness issue.
I am delighted that their wines have regained respect across the world.
I do wonder who is responsible for the testing of WS wines to ensure that they are safe? For example does the Society have an in house laboratory, do we rely on EC testing or leave it to the integrity of the producers or regional authorities and what confidence might one have in them?
I make this point regarding say the alcohol content of some wines, where what is stated on the bottle bears little accuracy to the actual contents. Personally, I am not that bothered about this number but I have come to be aware that some are. Note that from observation of self-regulation in many facets of society, it does not work, there can be abuse as we have all seen, be it with the media or financial products. My original comment was meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek but as enthusiasts we do hear from time to time stories of adulteration, be it wine from one region being adulterated with that from another, in the past wines from one vintage being added to another etc. Happily the testing equipment for detecting abuse has improved so much in recent years, with many parameters now up for examination where previously it was just a sci-fi aspiration.
And with Brexit, might we lose access to EC testing system or accreditation and have to set up our own system?
So I do wonder what safeguards the Society has in place to ensure that our wines are safe and accurately labelled?
I do try to keep us as safe and legal as possible. Where we buy via UK agents, they also have responsibility as importers into the UK.
Where own label wines are concerned (Society and Exhibition labels), we request a post bottling analysis. The standard of these does vary with some completed in basic labs at the winery and probably just covering SO2 and alcohol. Others comply more fully with what we ask for, which is the above plus anything else with a legal limit, VA, metals, pesticides etc
With UK wine production on the increase, lab services for the wine trade is likely to be a growth area. We don’t have an in-house lab - although I do keep looking at lab equipment on Google, but a bit pricey for our needs. Instead, we along with many UK producers use an accredited lab called CampdenBRI based down in Chipping Campden. I use this for testing a risk assessed selection each month for:
This is usually to check against the label values or tech. sheets supplied by the producer. On occasion, there is enough of a difference on something like ABV to necessitate taking the wine off sale and applying a sticker with the correct value before it can be sold. On other occasions, a low free SO2 level might indicate that an anticipated drink window might be a bit ambitious.
Interestingly, glycol is still a consideration as an illegal additive in wine as some of the cooling systems for stainless steel fermentation tanks use it - although water is preferable. When we audit wineries that use glycol cooling, we check to ensure that negative pressure systems are used that in the event of a leak would ensure wine flowed into coolant rather than visa versa. The glycol is food grade but obviously not desirable in wine.
Some very hi-tech equipment is available that can narrow down the geographical origin of grapes but we rely on close relationships with our producers, buyer visits and risk assessed audits. At these we check the paperwork trail back as far as the vineyards and via all of the tanks, barrels and treatments that the wine has passed through en route to bottle. Obviously this isn’t a 100% guarantee but it does mean that we should spot if a few extra tanks have suddenly appeared from nowhere.
In 1985 the first mobile phone call was made, there was the first televised broadcast from the house of Lords, Eastenders started, UK miners strike finishes, the Sinclair C5 stops production and a cost of a gallon of 4 star was almost £2.
Malbec is fashionable now, but I don’t think it ever was before. From Cahors it was known as the ‘black wine’ and was tough stuff. It was the Argentinian taming of it that gained it popularity.
Prosecco is very very fashionable now, and it never was before. BTW most Prosecco in this country is ‘Extra Dry’, which means medium (which is one reaon why it is so popular with new drinkers) and most Champagne is ‘Brut’, i.e. dry, so look for a rare Brut Prosecco.
It wasn’t until new world wines came popular that wine drinkers learned these names. Until then we were drinking geographic (Bordeaux/Rioja/Chianti etc) or brand names (Blue Nun, Mateus etc)
Viognier is a very recent fashion. No-one had ever heard its name outside the geekiest of wine geeks. You never ever saw a wine labelled as Viognier as there was no such thing. It was so little grown that, as Jancis wrote in 1992, there was only 32 ha planted world wide, mostly all in France, and it wasn’t even listed in the French govt agricultural census.
Thinking that these varieties will remain big sellers is not taking the long term view. In 2009 BBR re-printed their wine list of 1909. It is instructive to see the big sellers then, and how so many have fallen out of favour.
Did you drunk Viognier before 1995? And if you did it’d would have been Ch Grillet in Condrieu and they didn’t put the variety name on the label.
Jancis lists 1,368 grape varieties used for winemaking in her book ‘Wine Grapes’ and misses quite a few out.
Not saying that adventurous wine drinkers like all of us won’t have heard or even tasted some of the wines that’ll be popular next decade – there weren’t any really obscure ones in my tasting – but in the 2030s I think we’ll be drinking some odd Turkish varieties.
I’m not sure about Torrontes either. It has a fairly distinctive muscat component on the palate, and muscat flavours in a dry wine can be quite Marmitey to some people. You tend to win some and lose some with Torrontes.