“I don’t think so. The wine has to be interesting – make you want to go back and smell it and taste it again. Everything has to be in balance. And I think a wine has to be made from ripe fruit. I’m completely against unripe fruit. The people who say, ‘We’re looking for lower alcohol,’ or ‘We’re looking for more terroir, transparency,’ I’m saying it’s completely fucked up. The best terroir is the fully ripe grape.”
This is an old debate. It is often cast as a New World vs. Old World debate (or perhaps more accurately as modern vs. traditional style regardless of country of origin). And it is divisive: either you are in the extra ripe camp or you are in the less ripe camp. One of my issues with very ripe wine is that it makes it difficult to determine where the wine is from (let alone the terroir). So if it is true that the general consumer’s palate is shifting increasingly towards riper wines, it would make sense to argue that wines will eventually lose their sense of place. It will make little difference where the wine is produced. This, to me, is quite sad.
I would argue that there is room for both styles of wines. Vive la différence! Would we argue that there should be no Indian or Mexican restaurants because an influential food critic prefers French cuisine and, by extension, French restaurants get better ratings? No! I like all of these cuisines and I am sure that a lot of other people do too. Rather than dismiss a style of wine, I think that we should educate people about these wines and accept them for what they are: different.
Personally, I do not prefer one “ripeness”/style over the other consistently. There are times when I prefer a “fruit bomb” to a wine in which the fruit is more subdued and vice versa. So I have a bit of both in my cellar. I am a lover of wine of all styles and think that there is a place for both.
Note: In this post, I am not referring to overripe wines, which generally are unbalanced due to their lack of acidity, or overly underripe wines that are generally extremely “green.” Balance is key, a point on which Mr. Parker and I agree 100%.