Rosé Bandol. Dry Tokaj. Still Champagne. Bordelais Syrah.
When I was in Brno last, I tried out one of the top new restaurants in town. Much to my chagrin, their wine selection was two thirds foreign. I went there wanting a taste of Moravia and its wines, and instead I was offered Cotes du Rhone and California.
The new so-called wine bar in my village that I have complained about before does the opposite. Every single wine comes from within a few hundred kilometres of the town. I am equally unhappy with its selection.
How can it be that two wine lists, so fundamentally different, garner the same reaction, disappointment? As is all too often the case, the problem lies, not with them, but with me. (to an extent - both wine lists were bad anyway but that's not the point)
When I am at home, I want a taste of the exotic delivered to my doorstep, and when I am travelling I seek out the authentically local. Would a Moravian be happy in both Brno and Saint Martin, where I am not?
Let me put this another way. I am sick and tired of local winemakers making the same wine, year in, year out. Terroir is crushed and the style is set in stone for the sake of 'tradition' and 'typicity'. A nearby winemaker whose wines never fail to raise an eyebrow of curiosity recently had the AOC stripped from him for making atypical wines. This is awful, and every winemaker who does something crazy I applaud as a breath of fresh air.
Forgoing traditional reds to make rosé in Bandol? Great, they're often so much more interesting than Cotes de Provence! Prioritising Chardonnay in Beaujolais? Good on you, there's more than just Gamay! A dry Tokaj Furmint? Oooh how exciting. Zero-dosage Champagne, or still Coteaux Champennois? What an interesting curiosity. Syrah in the Médoc? How wonderful.
Let us imagine a world then in which Tokaj has given up on botrytis, dry Furmint is just so much cheaper to make, more popular, more international, and still feels new and naughty. Beaujolais Nouveau is a logistics nightmare, far better to sell oaked Chardonnay three years after harvest at your leisure.
Fortified wines are a nightmare to sell in 2020, millennials so often just don't dig it. Maybe they should switch production instead to high-yield dry cash-cow rosé pamplemousse. This is what has happened in Provence - where the easy-to-sell rosé cash-cow has supplanted Bellet's VDN or Bandol's reds. (going a bit further back, Bellet stopped making a VDN after phylloxera, and shifted to dry wines way before rosé took over in the 2010s, but the point stands - their wine is less unique than it was)
Paradoxically though, all these local innovations have led to a less diverse wine scene globally. Dry Tokaj may be amazing (both for the consumer and the producer), but is it worth the price of possibly losing one of the world's most interesting sweet wines? Rosé in Bandol may be on par or better than the rest of Provence, but is it worth sacrificing a fantastic red?
How would we feel if Barolo decided (through market pressure) to make sparkling nebbiolo rosé? I'm sure it would be a breath of fresh air for a Langhe producer who has made heavy reds their entire life, an exciting innovation. But for consumers the world over, that's one less traditional red they'll be able to buy, one more nail in the coffin of diverse tradition.
What is good for the local wine scene is not always good for the global wine world. I don't think the answer is necessarily banning producers from innovating, but I would very much like to be able to better support local traditional styles, much like we support animals on the verge of extinction, regardless of whether they contribute to our lives directly or even like them.
In the meantime, however much I love dry Tokaj and Bandol rosé, I do my very best to boycott them and refuse to support them, in favour of aszu and reds that need my support if they are to survive and continue contributing to the global wine scene.