Fifteen years ago, who would have thought that prices would be so low for wine of such high.
I love it when wine stereotypes are shattered. People have such miscon- ceptions about wine collectors and sommeliers (snobby, snooty, elitist, rigid—take your pick, or select all). And winemakers, too. How many jokes and apocryphal stories have you heard about an arrogant, rigid and complacent winemaker who is so set in his methods and so narcissistic about his wine that he can’t possibly consider changing? With this issue, we celebrate Wine Enthusiast’s 15th anniversary, and I am pleased in this very special issue to undermine a few stereotypes.
I call your attention to page 68 of this issue, and the article entitled “Seers and Pioneers.” It’s a series of interviews with prominent winemakers from all over the world…and you will read the same message again and again: We are raising quality. We are rethinking our methods. We taking more care in the vineyard, planting the correct varietals for the terroir, and refining our techniques in the winery. This is a message you might expect from winemakers in the emerging wine powers, countries like Chile, South Africa or New Zealand, but the great winemaker from Italy, Piero Antinori, strikes the same chord, as do winemakers from Spain and Portugal. The message is clear. Increased competition is raising the level of wine quality worldwide. Consumers are becoming more savvy, competition is fierce, and no one can afford to be complacent.
New winemaking techniques shared from winemaker to winemaker are revolutionizing the flavors the average consumer will enjoy once he pulls a cork on today’s rich selection of diverse wines. Perhaps it was the joint ventures—winemakers from France, California, Australia and South America traveling the globe and sharing their expertise—that led the way, but as one winemaker observes in this issue, there are no secrets in wimemaking anymore. Not to idealize, but it’s a community. Everyone’s interest is served in raising the bar of quality.
For 15 years, Wine Enthusiast has covered this exciting world, and what an era it has been. If a reporter feels blessed when a big story lands in his lap, I am twice blessed: Wine Enthusiast has covered the United States wine scene during the most fascinating, volatile time in his its history. And as one who loves fine wine, I am the direct beneficiary. Because the biggest wine story in the last 15 years is the rise in quality—of wines made in America, but also of the wines that are imported here. Whatever you can afford to spend on wine, you can now enjoy a much higher quality of grape in your glass than you could 10 or 15 years ago. And that’s exciting.
Just as vintners have improved the quality of their offering over the last 15 years, so has there been a steady evolution and change in Wine Enthusiast. You can follow the changes in design and editorial focus—and enjoy snippets of articles and interviews we’ve presented over the years—in the retrospective piece entitled “Reflections.” Also in this issue you’ll find encore presentations of the wonderful and witty LynchBob cartoons as well as fun summaries of the food and restaurant scene and the fascinating world of spirits over the past 15 years.
What I’m most proud of in this magazine is what our editors, writers and tasting panelists have achieved as they’ve chronicled the great strides winemakers have made. It shines through in every page of this issue: We have maintained a clear and authoritative voice that speaks for the pleasures and benefits wine offers a civilized world. We have always taken the opposite approach than that of the elitists and knee-jerk negativists—we have sought to educate consumers about their choices, and assure them that if they like what’s in their glass, it is good wine.
We at Wine Enthusiast look forward to the next 15 years with great anticipation and excitement and stand prepared to report on all of the spectacular developments ahead. Above all, we thank you for sharing the experience.