Assessing shifting regional vintage quality worldwide is hardly an exact science nor fast changing. Yet, even in the still-new century, regional leadership has changed markedly.
Three years ago, from Australia, where foods and wine appreciation is a passion, I first analyzed annual blind-tasting-results reported by Wine Spectator magazine. While results have been reported since 1988, I concentrated on the new century – 2000 and on. This is my third analysis.
I also focused on the Top 10 of 100 wines from thousands of vintners representing a dozen or more leading regions worldwide, France, California, Chile, Italy, Australia ....
Two discoveries resulted from that initial analysis.
First. France and California tied in Top 10 awards from 2000 to 2009 – 26 each.
Second. In 2003 a turning point was achieved when only half the Top 10 awards were received by perennial favourites, France, California, and Italy. Five newcomers entered the fray: Australia, Chile, Germany, Portugal and Spain.
In the world-of-wine change comes gradually, so it was not until 2006 that another regional entry, Washington State, ranked among the Top 10. Then in 2009 a Washington entry took the number one award.
The results since 2009 suggest California's wines, winning firsts in 2010 and 2012, may have an edge over the French, Yet, the French wines took second prize and three other slots among the Top 10 for 2012. Since the 1976 Judgement of Paris, no doubt, this is the most closely observed regional competition.
The 2012 results include two more regional newcomers – Argentina and the State of Oregon.
And, finally – returning to an Australian perspective – it appears the down-under vintages have almost passed the Italians, with three ranked wines to the Italian's four since 2009.
So, as we anticipate 2013, in-so-far-as-this-is-an-annual 'race,' the French and Californians are way ahead, the Italians are fading, as -- led by Australia -- the newcomers are coming on fast, as fast as change occurs in viticulture.
Note: The December 31st issue of Wine Spectator will focus on, as the editors say, “The Most Exciting Wines of 2012.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com