Muscadet! Hemming decries as the hipsters re-tumblrate
In a recent article, Richard Hemming on Jancis Robinson’s site stated, “Every cheap Pinot Grigio or branded Sauvignon Blanc we default to is a vote against Muscadet”. His point wasn’t so much that Muscadet is the de facto, de puta madre wine of the moment (although hipsters think so) but more a question as to why we’re overlooking these smaller grapes and regions in favor of drinking what amounts to being uninteresting “mondovino“?
Hemming goes on to make sure that people are clear that this isn’t some misplaced charity action and that Muscadet wines are indeed good. We agree with this as at Monvínic recently we had the opportunity to taste some and were duly impressed with the expression of the Melon de Bourgogne grape in these wines such as from Domaine Landron. They were unique, different, and flat-out addictive. We highly recommend you taste Muscadet if you get the chance.
But, it’s not just that we generally hate Chardonnay that we encourage people to try new regions and the grapes that are from them. There is a reason various grapes have evolved to how they are today and it’s because they’re usually well suited to where you find them. This is why it was painful to hear from an enolog in Croatia that a winery she manages in Herzegovina had planted a large swath of Merlot just because their original consultant said they needed it for acidity. Bullshit. People are making great reds in that region from Blatina and there is no reason to change it just because an “international palate” dictates it.
Thankfully there are those that are seeing the light of this and as seen in Empordà, Priorat, and other regions where they’re tearing out the vast tracts of Cabernet Sauvignon that were planted 15-20 years ago as they’ve found that it just doesn’t work as well as the native grapes. I even raised this issue of making wine from local grapes on a recent review by Tim Atkin although Tim defended his point in that the wine was really superior and he agrees that regions should make the best use of the grapes they have at hand.
Will people change and branch out? As more and more people in the world drink wine each year, we’ll undoubtedly see more of the bland, basic French grape-based wines that we’ve been seeing (like Lodi, California Merlot, thank you no) but than again a larger market will allow more intricate craft options to emerge. My hope is that as time goes on, more “fanatics” will come out from under the vines and re-introduce us to wine grapes that have been around for eons.