As regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.
These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at – Terroirist.com).
In my latest column, I contend that most of the world’s finest wines are produced by small, unassuming, and largely ignored grape growers.
On January 12, 2007, one of the world’s greatest violin players set up shop in the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington, D.C. Wearing jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap, 39-year-old Joshua Bell pulled out his instrument — handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1713 and purchased in 2003 for nearly $4 million — and played six classical songs for rush-hour commuters.
The setting of Bell’s 43-minute performance was unusual, to say the least. By the time he was 14, the violin prodigy was soloing for the Philadelphia Orchestra. At 17, he made his first appearance at Carnegie Hall. He has performed as a guest soloist for the New York Philharmonic three times and currently directs one of the world’s most celebrated chamber orchestras.
More than 1,000 commuters came within earshot of Bell that morning and witnessed a world-class performance from a musical genius on one of the finest instruments ever crafted. Yet among the mass of hurried Metro riders, Bell went almost unnoticed.
What does any of this have to do with wine? Quite a bit.
Giant corporate producers dominate the wine market. In the United States, three brands — E. & J. Gallo, the Wine Group, and Constellation — produced 172.3 million cases of wine in 2012, accounting for roughly 50 percent of wine sales.
Yet most of the world’s finest wines are produced by small, unassuming, and largely ignored grape growers. Unlike the big brands, these vignerons produce wines that reflect the regions and vineyards in which the grapes are grown. Their wines have a distinctiveness that can’t be matched by mass-produced alternatives.
In other words, wine consumers are surrounded by Joshua-Bell level brilliance. Serious wine enthusiasts are finally paying attention.
Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!