What do I think the trends and issues coming up this year will be? Thanks for asking.
#1: Natural Whines
The natural wine revolution will continue to morph and provoke. Call natural wine the Fox News of the wine world and you’ll get reaction. But a real backlash? I don’t know if we’ll see it. Is anyone going back to margarine from butter? Is farm-to-table in danger of a return to McDonalds? While the revolution has spawned elements of fad and fashion, it’s tough to mount a backlash to what’s ultimately an overdue market correction.
#2: Scrambling for Dollars
Regions like Bordeaux will get scared as they scramble to be relevant to a generation that does not care about en primeur, the extravagant and highly profitable pre-sale of their wines. How will they go about it? First with marketing: photos of horses in the vineyards and press releases about biodynamic farming. Next phase will be the “natural cuvée.”
#3: Clay Baby
Clay vinification continues! Look for a proliferation in unlikely regions, such as Champagne. (Also look out for Champagne Pet’Nats, a complete mind bender. Keep an eye out for the pétillant from Vouette & Sorbée).
#4: More Skin in the Game
Wines aren’t the only drink getting some skin action. Look over to cider. Fermenting apple and pear cider on grape skins will become a prominent sector and Vermont might just become a leader in this field. Want to try some? Track down Deirdre Heekin’s Stolen Roses. (I also predict that isn’t the last time you’ll read Deirdre’s name in these predictions.)
#5: The Party’s (Almost) Over
Natural wine fairs for the public will begin to lose momentum. Trade shows will continue but in the United States, where it’s illegal to sell wine direct to the consumer at these events, what’s in it for the winemaker? They pay their money, they show up, they give away cases of free wine. At some point being part of the party just won’t be enough. So get it on while you can. This effect will not be felt at maximum for the next three years but the tide is starting to turn.
#6: Paint the Town (Light) Red
Gulpable. Crushable. Digestible. Glou glou. Whatever you want to call them, light, low alcohol vin de soifs will continue to rule the day. The return of big lush reds might be lurking around the corner but don’t count on it just yet.
#7: Hybrid Equality
The general public might never know or care about the difference between a merlot and a marquette, because after all, good is good. But it’s been well-ingrained for wine geeks and snobs to look down on anything but vinifera. Thanks to the dedicated work of Vermont vigneronne Deirdre Heekin, hybrid acceptance is upon us.