I’m at the moment visiting a friend in Greve in Chianti, Tuscany. December has arrived here too but it doesn’t feel too harsh. Rays of sun feel still warming in a rather merciful way and the crisp air feels pure. Looking at the rows of young Sangiovese climbing up the hill towards the silhouette of the village of Panzano, a thought popped in my mind without a warning. It puzzled me. And possessed my mind for the rest of the day. I’ll expel it by writing. A bit like an exercise of exorcism in a digital form. I’ll split this meandering post in two pieces, the short and the long, so bear with me.
The conservatives among us tend to think the world of wine hasn’t changed that much in the past years. Internet what? They point out that New World broke into limelight already decades ago and nothing as big has happened in the last years. China’s getting into to the game but hey, they still crave for our wine. Yes, Bordeaux is still the most sought after wine and wine style. True, true and true. But some things have changed for good.
During the last years organic approach has become the standard for high quality wine whether coming from Italy or Argentina (except the first growths of Bordeaux but it’s hard to get any more conservative than that). That has changed the wine world. There’s no going back in my opinion.
But wine isn’t the only thing changed. We’ve changed too. As consumers and as people. Few years ago the financial meltdown moved tectonic plates and not just economic wise. As a result our values shifted. Where there was ‘lust for status’ before the crash, there’s now ‘hunger for authenticity’ to put it roughly.
At the same time the revolution started by Internet keeps pushing the newly organized concept of transparency in to the mainstream. We’ve grown tired of glossy paper monologues; we want to interact with the brands we consume (in a broad sense: every wine’s a brand whether on purpose or not, managed well or poorly). What is new that we want to choose the brands on basis of their personal qualities bit like the friends we choose to associate with. We end up giving products human qualities. Yes, it’s crazy when you think about it; Coca-Cola hanging out with you in the Facebook calling you a friend.
This yearn for authenticity is so substantial we rather watch a shaky clip shot with an iPhone of a winemaker cursing at a stainless steel tank with a stuck fermentation caused by a stupid mistake than a professionally produced video in which the perfect harmony and the undeniable aesthetic value of the sun setting over empty vineyards is not disturbed by reality of rampaging noisy tractors and some odd plastic tubes all over the place. We’ve turned the dominant mindset of the 90′s inside out. Who would have thought anyone wanting less harmonious fengshui in favor of authentic clutter?
Speaking of fengshui, the reason for this post is not the trends that keep changing but the things that do not; the things that remain the same, underneath it all, many times hidden from the eye. This is what I find most interesting. The first part was about change, the second will be about permanence in wine but also in us.
… Continues in the next post.