Yesterday I went to see one of my clients and he showed me the list of the best Italian wines according to Tim Atkin. The Guardian and The Observer are publishing a wines of the world guide featuring a selection of wines for all major countries that Tim chose according this year performance at the International wine challenge. A couple of days ago, the country featured was Italy. You have read in previous posts what I think about wine competitions and wine writers, but I was very surprised to see the wines on the list and I could not understand the criteria according to which the wines had been selected.
Analysing the list, the first thing that got my attention was that these wines were available from the usual places, with the supermarkets selling 80% of the wines featured, all wine writers seems to shop for their wines at Tesco and like, independent or small shops do not exist for them. In a letter I wrote to a magazine editor asking why they always go shopping to Tesco or Sainsbury, she replied that they had to look for accessible wines (read the letter)
. The internet has allowed small and independent shops to become widely available and if she was referring to the price factor, a £49.99 bottle of Barolo, is not everyone wine not even if is available from M&S.
And, as this was not enough, I could not figure out the reasons behind the wine chosen. I could not understand why amongst them there was, for example, the Chianti Riserva Piccini which I think, after having tasted hundreds of Chianti Riservas, one of the worst you could drink. Cheap but it is worth less that what it costs. On the same list, we had the Amarone Allegrini, which is a fantastic wine but not what I would call a good value for money and there are plenty of other Amarones as good as the Allegrini at a more reasonable price. Or the Barbaresco Araldica at £8.99, my opinion of this wine is similar to the one of the Chianti, and next to it the Barbaresco Morassino at £22 which on the other side is a good wine. If I did not know anything about wine, I will surely go for the Araldica, why should I pay £13 more for a similar wine, and I could say something for each and every wine on the list. The last wine I want to mention is the Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Contrada Balciana Saltarelli which I haven't tasted and will do in the next few weeks but what stroke me was the price, £20.25 which is too much for a Verdicchio. Assuming that this wine is aged by the word oak mentioned in the tasting notes, it is still too much. I have tasted plenty of fantastic Verdicchios, aged and not, much cheaper than that. But because the introduction to the list was saying that the selection was based on the results at the International wine challenge, I did a bit of homework. I went to the site of the competition and searched for a few wines, here the results. Amarone Allegrini £43.95, bronze medal. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico "Vigneti di Osan" £50 but gold medal, for £7 I would go for the gold Medal, however this is not available from a supermarket. There were other Amarones winner of a bronze medal, half the price of the Allegrini one. Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico, according to the International wine challenge website, has not won any medal, though there were other Chianti Classicos that had won a medal.
I will finish this posting inviting you to continue the exercise I have started and taste all wines in the list and then let us know what you think.