A month ago, Robert Parket sent an email out to his subscribers letting us know about some significant changes in who tastes the wine for several regions. I’d like to share my thoughts and an email from David Schildknecht to help people understand more about this change (and how it might affect my region).
The change that has caught the most press is that Parker is giving up California which he used to taste personally. California wines will now be tasted by Antonio Galloni. This gets a lot of attention because Parker’s tastes have really shaped the direction of California wines and Galloni does not have identical tastes. In the range of 90-100, personal tastes can play a large role in the difference between a 99 and a 100 or a 93 and a 95.
But being a Languedoc-centric wine lover, I’m interested in another aspect of Robert Parker’s email. “Two new areas of responsibility for Antonio will include the red and white Burgundies of the Côte d’Or” Aha! Cote d’Or and Chablis, which used to be reviewed by David Schildknecht, will now be tasted by Galloni. This is interesting to Languedoc-Roussillon wine producers since Schildknecht is the man responsible for Languedoc and Roussillon wines. Schildknecht is super busy as he also tastes Germany, Austria, New York, Beaujolais, Loire, and the rest of Eastern Europe.
With the vast weight of Chablis and Cote d’Or shifting toward Galloni, Parker suggests that “sectors that merit dramatically more attention but have not had sufficient coverage, including Beaujolais and the Mâconnais (now economically as important as the Cote d’Or and Chablis) will be put under a microscope by David Schildknecht.” Intriguing.
So I asked David if he thinks that the Languedoc will benefit get increased attention from this shift. The short answer is “eh…” Actually David says, “In short, collectively there is a lot to be done. And this will involve writing about emerging regions including many that render some of the world’s greatest wines and or best vinous values yet get little journalistic attention.”
I’ve included David’s email below so you can see the full eloquent response. But in short, the Languedoc already receives a full bulletin every two years and an under $20 article every other year while some regions remain drastically undercovered or virtually ignored. While one article per year for the world’s largest wine producing region seems like too little for a Languedoc fanatic like me, I have to admit that the situation is even worse for other regions.
Regions Schildknecht will try to cover more
David mentions several regions where he plans on expanding his coverage including, “the Mâcon, the Southwest [of France], Corsica, Jura, and Savoie. And indeed, the Costières de Nîmes and Provence are also deserving of focused attention that they have not received in the context of my reports on the Languedoc or Bob’s on the Rhône, although that future focus might come from Bob or might come from me – this remains to be seen.”
David also mentions German regions outside of the Riesling Belt like “the Ahr and Baden as well as Württemberg and Franken”… lots of regions he wants to give more time to. Places that deserve the attention too. And he talks a bit about the Americas. “And then there are my many deserving countrymen and Canadian neighbors in the eastern three-quarters of North America, who with the exception of those in New York State have gone unmentioned in The Wine Advocate.” I suppose there are a lot of winemakers that fit into this. Virginia pops into mind. Lots of producers. Not as much as the L-R, but a lot.
Also, David reminds me that the deadline for the next Languedoc article is fast approaching. While I can hope that he will have slightly more time for us in the future, it’s unrealistic to think that the change can affect the upcoming article.
David Schildknecht’s email
Besides my continued inability to adequately (including in a timely manner) cover the wines of so many regions of the world, there were other valid internal reasons for the change in Burgundy coverage, which should free me to do a better job in covering the rest of the wine world that is my remaining “beat.” Yes, this will mean more time can be devoted to certain regions that I am already covering. But before either of us jumps to conclusions about how this will effect coverage of the Languedoc or Roussillon, please bear in mind the following factors:
1) My first priority is to be able to publish reports more rapidly. And it will take most of 2011 to get caught up to where I need to for my readers’ sake be in regard to those regions about which I have been publishing ongoing reports.
2) Since time has already been alloted for visiting in and tasting wines of the Languedoc & Roussillon, I’ll be publishing in the June issue the report on these regions essentially as I already planned. I cannot do more tasting or travel for this report than was already planned because of other commitments I have for later in the year. (I’ll start planning the precise days for my trip at the end of this month. Sooner is impractical as too much can change for the growers to ask them two months or more in advance on which days they will not be available to receive me.)
3) Relative to the vastness of the region (one it’s really a stretch to refer to it as “a region”), the Loire has come up even shorter in my coverage than has the Languedoc or Roussillon, and I have only tasted – as I wrote to you before – a minority of the wines in situ but have relied on samples for a higher percentage of my tasting than is the case in my coverage of most other regions. So I shall be looking to do a significantly broader as well as deeper report on the Loire during 2012 than I would otherwise have been able.
4) There are a great many worthy regions about which I have been completely unable to write in recent years and shall now get to.
These include, in France, the Mâcon, the Southwest, Corsica, Jura, and Savoie. And indeed, the Costières de Nîmes and Provence are also deserving of focused attention that they have not received in the context of my reports on the Languedoc or Bob’s on the Rhône, although that future focus might come from Bob or might come from me – this remains to be seen.
I have not had chance to write about any wines of Germany outside of the Riesling belt; and even though these are wines with relatively little international availability thus far, there is a lot of recent excitement in places like the Ahr and Baden (especially with Pinot) as well as Württemberg and Franken.
And speaking of great wines but wines with sadly little international distribution, consider Switzerland! I have been wanting to return to Hungary and Slovenia for some years now, and to writing about their wines. And then there are my many deserving countrymen and Canadian neighbors in the eastern three-quarters of North America, who with the exception of those in New York State have gone unmentioned in The Wine Advocate.
In short, collectively there is a lot to be done. And this will involve writing about emerging regions including many that render some of the world’s greatest wines and or best vinous values yet get little journalistic attention.