The end of Napa and Bordeaux

The Wrath of Grapes
8 min readJul 8, 2019

Two regions that are synonymous with big, bold, heavy wines are losing their relevancy amongst a younger wine audience. As that audience grows in stature, knowledge, and buying power these wines could lose their place amongst the upper echelons of wine society.

Changing winds

Bordeaux was not always considered one of the greatest wine regions in the world, and Napa’s prestigious reputation is still new in the grand book of wine history. It was not until 18th century that Bordeaux became sought after. Given its location wrapped around an estuary leading out into the Atlantic sea, Bordeaux became a powerhouse as wine became traded for things like coffee. The region was in a perfect position to take advantage of the seeds of globalization, and laud it over other regions in France.

Two regions were never so well positioned to take on the emerging tastes of an entire generation of wine consumers. Influenced heavily by Robert Parker’s 100 point system, consumers gravitated towards bigger, bolder, more fruit forward wines. These suited the deep and brooding wines of Bordeaux and later Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley who’s greatest winemakers looked to emulate and surpass their French inspirations. For a period wine lovers looked for big, full bodied, dark, and rich wines as the pinnacle of their desires. Winemakers in Napa duly obliged as they released bigger, heavier wines that were rich in dark fruit flavors and quenched the thirst for wines that were over the top. Some bold Napa Cab’s became household names, such as Silver Oak, Nickel & Nickel, Caymus, and Stag’s Leap to name but a few, and of course not forgetting the pinnacle of bodacious American luxe that is Opus One. More modern producers such as Orin Swift further pushed the envelope by releasing wines that catered to people looking for approachable, understandable luxury with slightly sweeter wines, and even bigger bodies with wines that sometimes edge closer towards 16% ABV. Bordeaux meanwhile became the intellectual’s wine, and a symbol of somebody who has arrived both in life and enlightenment. Both regions set out to chase the elusive 100 points while striving to achieve at least 90 so as to be endeared to a generation of wine lovers who sought only the best, and were willing to reflect their status and breadth of their pocket books in their wine choices.

While this generation gravitated towards red wines Bordeaux saw many of its white grape plantings uprooted in favor of reds. Napa in the…

The Wrath of Grapes

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