Robert Parker used to be the main dude in the wine trade. Wine makers hoped that he would give them high numerical points when he sipped their new offerings. If he did, they could sell at high prices. If he did not, they were behind the eight ball.
But things have changed. Or should I say, things are changing. These days, the wine trade is being disrupted by a wave of new wineries that are making “natural wine”. These wines have different taste profiles. Profiles that Parker wouldn’t recognize.
And these new producers are being championed by a new generation of wine experts. These are people who venture out to all sorts of new places to find natural wine producers, and bring their products home.
In the US, the means that the District of Columbia has a competitive advantage when it comes to this new dimension of the wine trade. Why?
In all 50 states, bars and restaurants are required to buy from a licensed distributor, who buys from an importer, who buys from a producer—a system that incentivizes distributors to only purchase well-known wines they’re sure they can sell. But D.C. isn’t a state, so (a restaurant or bar) can bypass the distributor and buy directly from the small, independent winemakers (it) wants to highlight.
To do that, the restaurant needs a flesh and blood person who goes out to find this stuff. Enter Maria Bastasch – wine director of Maydan — a great DC restaurant.
This is a fun story! And it is the type of story we will see a lot more of in the next years.