Badges - what are they?

I am not much of a fan of giving scores or points to wines. I don’t mind other people doing it, but it doesn’t really make sense to me. I don’t interact with wine in a way that can be summarised as a point on a straight line.

However, friends, kindly respectful of my taste, encouraged me to find a way to share ideas of what I like in the world of wine. Sometimes I taste wines, and they stand out as fine examples of certain taste or interest categories. Largely for fun, I jumped on the idea of giving these wines a ‘stamp of approval’ and jumped on the idea of using badges to signify which category I think a wine exemplifies.

They are just my opinion - but if you happen to be in the same ‘taste tribe’, you might find a badge a useful guide.

Living in California, I see a lot of fine modern wines; but sometimes I come across beautiful examples of great old-fashioned wines: wines that are proudly traditional, and yet still shine with delicious, compelling intrigue. When they are good, they are some of the most interesting wines in the world. I call them ‘Old School beauties’.

An Indie Gem is one of those wines that doesn’t conform to the mainstream palate profile, but is defined by intrigue, interest, and off-beat yumminess. They might be quirky lesser-known grapes, they might be from lesser-known parts of the world, they might be made in ways that defy the norm. I am drawn to wines that can be different, and pull it off well. But, be warned, these are sometimes adventurous tastes; I know that not everyone will like these wines: one might want to be careful about to whom you serve them.

We live in the real world, and sometimes we need wines that just make people happy. Some wines are just hard not to like; if you are having a party for mixed tastes there are some wines that have a broad appeal. Perhaps not surprisingly, these are often wines that are commercially successful too. The Crowd Pleaser is perhaps the opposite of the Indie Gem.

Much as I love the off-beat, the quirky and the commitment excelling at the relentlessly old-fashioned, I also admire wines that can elegantly embrace modern know-how, without losing their soul; wines that can still have a classic sense of style, while embracing the 21st century; wines that appeal to a contemporary taste, while still being true to what they are and where they are, even if sometimes they are on the emerging edge of redefining our expectations; these are wines that manage to be contemporary and classic at the same time.

Modern masterpieces are often out of step with many of the establishment critics, even if raved about by popular tastemakers. Just as with music and the visual arts, the art of flavour often seems over-the-top compared with tradition. Modern masterpieces in the art of wine go beyond the conventions of tradition; they are not to everybody’s taste; their appeal is often in the realm of excitement and shock; they are sometimes not at all classic; sometimes, wines playing in the arena maybe miss the mark - they have impact but don’t resonate so much with beauty; sometimes, however, the avant-garde of modern wine art gets it right, and the wines sing and excite. They may not be classic, they might not be to the tastes of traditionalists, but they are beautiful shining examples of new paradigms - Modern Masterpieces, for those who are interested. And, be warned, sometimes, as with modern art, one might appreciate its artistry, yet not always want to live with it in your dining room.