I was chatting with a friend earlier on the rise of natural wines on IG – particularly those from smaller boutique estates from Loire and Beaujolais that provide great value for money. Thanks to fantastic marketing, cute labels and great efforts by different sommeliers/wine writers/importers, natural is HIP and COOL. So commonplace are these that you are staring to see them on even feeds of lifestyle influencers. Export data of Beaujolais published by The Drinks Business substantiates this theory.
At the same time, many has already talked about the Robert Parker-fication of wines and how everybody is moving away from it by creating more nuanced wines with more finesse and complexity.
One particular victim of this shift of tastes is the Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Less and less clients ask for it, rather honing in smaller special labels from Piedmonte, Loire, Beaujolais or even more obscure regions like Jura or Savoie. However when bringing it up to even existing clients who use to buy them, many comment saying somethings along with the line of "it's too much for me", "too chewy and can't wait that long" etc.
Older CdPs, such as the Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Speciale 1998 I had recently, are fantastic. Rich, textured, complex and intense, personally they are like the more interesting cousins of Bordeaux. Newer younger CdPs is harder to drink young and are much less approachable, especially amongst novice casual drinkers.
While CdPs from top estates are still considered an essential part of many private wine collections, at least amongst trendier restaurants they have much weaker footholds. Burgundy, Bordeaux and Northern Rhone will continue to be strong mainstays however the rest of the wine list has to be shared by other regions new and old.
Will CdPs as a region evolve and follow the lead set by Château Rayas long ago and make elegant, anti-Robert Parker types of wines? With global warming on the rise and finesse harder to achieve with the excessive heat, it will prove to be a challenge.
*Oh and the Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques 2005 was bloody fantastic. Not that you didn't know already.