One of the great joys of wine is that there is always another wine, grape or region to discover, so here we are in 2019 and I wonder what the year will hold for us.
Gazing into a crystal ball is never particularly easy but here are few of the wine trends that I think we will see coming our way this year.
I hate to start with my wine glass half empty but there is no doubt it is going to be another tough year for the UK wine trade and, in turn, the consumer.
There is another duty rise just around the corner, sterling has continued to struggle and although in general harvests last year were bigger than the previous year the knock-on effect is still in place so sadly prices will rise, and I’ve already seen many in the pipeline.
So this year’s mantra from a number of different levels probably should be ‘drink less, but drink better’.
I think one of this year’s big wine stories is going to be the continuing rise of organic wine.
The past few years have seen incredible growth in the organic food and wine sector and there is no doubt this will continue to grow, consumers are increasingly wanting to know where their wines come from, how they are grown and made.
Organic wine is no longer the preserve of a few crusading vineyard owners, it’s much more mainstream now with some of the world’s leading producers pulling up a chair at the organic table.
Some of Bordeaux’s most famous chateaux have declared themselves organic, including Chateau Latour which is now certified organic. Chateau Palmer has gone biodynamic and more will follow.
Organic wines are now available at more price points and without doubt this is being led by consumer demand and a desire by producers to think about the environment and sustainability.
I am sure v egan wine will continue its growth. More and more wines are now labelled as vegan but actually there are many more vegan wines on the shelves than you may imagine.
F or some reason producers do not add that information even though their wines may well be vegan.
In terms of regions and grapes that will capture our imagination this year, Greek wine is getting a lot of industry attention and I expect to see many more Greek wines available on the shelves, Waitrose and M&S are already there and others will follow.
Hardly new, but English wine will continue to grab many headlines. 2018 was a brilliant vintage and while the sparkling wines won’t be seeing the light of a day for a few years yet it was, in the words of one prominent vineyard owner, ‘the vintage of my lifetime’.
Two wines to kick off 2019 then, RAW, Spain (£8 Co-op) or Really Awesome Wine is a blend of verdejo, airén and sauvignon blanc and it is both organic and vegan, so probably ticks all those new year boxes.
It is very enjoyable with fresh citrus and apricot notes, a nice zesty finish and very good value for money.
Malbec is a grape now associated with Argentina but Irresistible Malbec 2016, Bio Bio Valley (£7.95 Co-op) shows that Chile can also work with this very fashionable grape.
It has lots of dark fruits, some spice and a lovely fresh finish.
It’s another vegan wine and very wallet-friendly to start the year.