Austerity Now!

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L'Eccellenza di Toscana 2011 at Villa Castelletti, Signa

While austerity programs in many European countries are currently proving to the wrong course or action for economic recovery, the Tuscan wine world may want to start thinking about some austerity programs of their own - especially when it comes to the character of their wines.

Just as a credit glut preceded the current economic crisis, it seems that all the investment in the wine making industry in Tuscany in the last decade (new vineyards, better machinery, advancement in scientific analysis, etc.) may have sowed the seeds for a similar problem - too much excellent wine (or the capacity to produce a lot of excellent wine) but much of it too much the same. Some austerity in the process and on the palate would perhaps make an event like this, celebrating the best of the region, a bit more interesting and diverse.

Far too many of these wines, especially the IGTs and those made with French Varietals (funny how people don't seem to say "Super Tuscan" so much lately) suffered from the same type of profile: fruit forward (and too much of it), loaded middle, and a disappearing act on the finish. They were in a word - boring. Delicious? Many of them. Drinkable? Of course. These are all award winning wines. But as a group they were lacking - lacking austerity, mystery, curiosity, staying power. It really does seem to be an effort on everyone's part of trying to make the "same" wine - a very drinkable, ready when opened, "easy" wine. Is this the victory of the 90 + points or bust culture? I hope not - but maybe with todays economic conditions (i.e. the difficulty of selling) some producers will start to experiment and find that different can be better too, and perhaps some of these fine wines will take off in new and more exciting directions.

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