February 20th, 2009

The new Garagiste movement?

In a recent offer I talked about the young guns in Washington, but what about the region that spawned the term? When I use the term Garagiste here, I do not mean a Seattle wine emporium - I refer to the Right bank vintners that inspired the name. As with all good things, an apogee and a decline is unavoidable and the Right Bank style made famous by Valendraud, Le Pin, La Mondotte and others is teetering on stagnation. Save but for a few high-end collectors, people are losing interest in this style of wine (and it's insane price-tag). Heavy oak, hot fermentations and a voluptuous style that is closer to Oakville than Libourne was intriguing for a while but high prices and over-the-top treatments do not mix well in this economy where my sense is that people are inspired by those who get back to basics and avoid the glitter and gold. The Right Bank boutique movement is certainly not dead (far from it) - it's just morphed with the times. In the new era, the overtly modern style of Valendraud has been weaned with a certain classicism and a new middle-ground is set to reign. Every exit heralds a new entrance and this more defined, classic expression of the noble St. Emilion terroir can be called the "Garagiste Nouveau" movement - an Ausone meets modernity style that is quasi-affordable (at least far more than in the past).