In the 1990s, we drank Aussie Chardonnay. In the 2000s, it was Pinot Grigio. The 2010s have been mostly pink or sparkling. So what’s next? I’ve spoken to some wine industry trendsetters to build a picture of what we might be drinking in the 2020s.
At the start of the 2010s, we suddenly realised that we didn’t need a special occasion to drink sparkling wine. Who knows what caused it, but there’s no going back. February saw the opening of Prosecco House near Tower Bridge, London’s first bar dedicated to the ubiquitous Italian sparkling wine. Will we look back and realise this was peak Prosecco?
As more and more chancers jump on the Prosecco bandwagon, good quality bottles are getting harder to find; the cheapest supermarket stuff just tastes like sherbet lemons. Cava is waiting patiently on the bench, and it’s only a matter of time until we switch allegiance. Prosecco is fermented in large tanks, but Cava uses the more delicate Champagne method resulting in a richer flavour. It’s more reliably dry and often better value. The time is ripe for rediscovery.
On the other hand, Mark Andrew MW, founder and editor of Noble Rot restaurant and magazine, puts his money on English sparkling, which he predicts “will continue to gain worldwide recognition and the best estates will increasingly come to resemble the major Champagne houses in their marketing.”
Charlie Young, owner of Vinoteca wine bars, agrees that England will be one of the more successful wine producing countries of the 2020s, and not just for sparkling wines – still wines too. He admits they can be pricey for now, but he predicts quality will improve and prices will come down “as the public’s appetite for home-grown wine increases.” He tips Greek wine too, where he’s noticed “more consistently high-quality wines across different price points.”
The regions that flourish and those that wilt could well be connected to climate change. Jack Green at wine importer Roberson says “I genuinely believe that climate change will have a massive impact over the next 10 years. We’ve had forest fires wiping out acres of vineyards in California and Spain. We’ve seen unusually late frosts wiping out 40% of French vineyards… Something has to change!”
If temperatures continue to rise, the hottest wine regions could become inhospitable to vines – goodbye Barossa Shiraz. Conversely, cool climate areas will thrive. Expect to see exciting wines coming out of cooler European countries such as the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, and northerly US states such as Vermont.
Andrew at Noble Rot backs the emerging Chinese wine industry: “China could be the world’s biggest wine producer within ten years and will become the source of juice for a new set of global commercial wine brands.”
Organic, biodynamic and Natural wines represent a small but growing proportion of wine produced around the globe. Even supermarkets such as Aldi now have permanent listings for organic Pinot Grigio and organic Prosecco. Andrew thinks we might even see some local governments legislating to make sustainable and organic methods mandatory, but also raises the spectre of genetically modified grapes. “I have a feeling they might play a big role by the end of the 2020s if climate change continues apace,” he says.
Opinions on alcohol levels vary. Matt Harris, owner of Planet of the Grapes wine bars, predicts “more winemakers perfecting the art of lower alcohol wines. Beaujolais at 10% ABV, Moscato and Brachetto rather than Prosecco, and people falling in love with German Riesling all over again.” There are dissenting voices however; Stephen Finch, managing director of Vagabond wine hang-outs, predicts that “people will stop fussing over alcohol levels in wine. It’s wine, people. It has alcohol in it. If you want low ABV wine, try Fruit Shoot. It’ll be better.”
Lydia Worsey is wine category manager for Mitchells & Butlers, owner of mass-market restaurant and bar brands such as All Bar One and O’Neills, and she too expects to see an increase in organic, biodynamic and Natural wines on wine lists by the 2020s. To this, she would add alcohol-free, low calorie, low sugar and “wine in keg as the serve norm.”
Alternatives to glass bottles are gaining ground. Green at Roberson agrees that bag-in-box, cans and plastic PET bottles are all due a resurgence, and as the quality of what’s put inside them rises, I’m sure that some of these will catch on. Shipping individual heavy glass bottles stoppered with bits of wood half way across the world really doesn’t feel like the future, and it’s certainly not the most eco-friendly option. And anyway, your robot butler might find corkscrews a bit fiddly.
Eight wines to drink now for a taste of the future…
Gramona La Cuvée Gran Reserva Brut 2012 (Penedès, Spain)
Biodynamic. One of the greatest cava producers, this is characterful, authentic and delicious. Walks all over supermarket Champagnes at this price. £23.95, Berry Bros. & Rudd
Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2013 (Sussex, England)
One of England’s finest, this has richness and depth not found in its peers. Luxuriously textured with a keen, dry finish. £32.95, Lea & Sandeman
Domaines Vinsmoselle Pinot Blanc 2014 (Moselle, Luxembourg)
Slightly off-dry white with subtle aromas of pear and apple. Great purity, and a refreshing mineral edge. £14.50, Vinoteca
Château Changyu Moser XV Moser Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Ningxia, China)
A balanced and lively Cabernet Sauvignon of real elegance. Not overworked, deliciously drinkable, remarkably successful. £29.95, Berry Bros. & Rudd
Jean-Paul Thévenet Morgon ‘Le Clachet’ 2016 (Beaujolais, France)
Nourishing red from a legendary Natural winemaker. Beautifully made; relaxed and carefree drinking. £18.00, Roberson
Domaine du Landreau Jus de Raisin Pétillant NV (Loire, France)
Top Chenin Blanc grape juice from a serious grower – just not fermented. Thirst-quenching fizz. £9.00, Red Squirrel
Les Dauphins Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2016 2.25l bag-in-box (Rhône, France)
Classic Rhône, fruity but firm, in a great vintage – and amazing value. £22.99 (£7.66 a bottle equivalent), Waitrose Cellar
Le Grappin Côtes-du-Rhône Syrah Grenache 2016 1.5l Bagnum (Rhône, France)
A magnum in an airtight bag. A crisp, refreshing Rhône blend from a talented winemaking couple from south London. £27.50 (£13.75 a bottle equivalent), Weino BiB
First published in Foodism magazine.
Shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards 2017 Food and Wine Writer of the Year
Shortlisted for the Born Digital Wine Awards 2016 Best Editorial/Opinion Wine Writing
Shortlisted for Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2016 Online Drink Writer
Winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2015 Blogger of the Year
Shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards 2015 Online Communicator
Runner Up in the Born Digital Wine Awards 2015 Best Editorial/Opinon Wine Writing
Shortlisted for Harpers Wine & Spirit French Wine Awards 2014 Best French Wine Writer/Critic
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014 Blogger of the Year
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013 Blogger of the Year
Off Licence News Top 25 Policy and Opinion Formers 2013
Winner of The Drinks Business Awards 2013 Communicator of the Year
Winner of Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2013 Newcomer of the Year
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2012 Blogger of the Year
Matt Walls first got into wine working in an off-licence in Brighton. He has since worked for Bollinger Champagne and helped manage and buy wines for The Sampler, one of London's best wine shops. He now spends half his time writing about wine and the other half collaborating on various wine-related projects. His first book, Drink Me!, was recently published by Quadrille and has sold over 10,000 copies.
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Buy this nowPegasus Bay ‘Bel Canto’ Riesling 2014, North Canterbury, New Zealand
I love this estate's Rieslings, they're some of the best in New Zealand. This is made from some of the oldest vines in the region and made with a good proportion of Noble Rot. It's a riot of kumquats, eastern spices, honey and peach, between dry and off-dry. With driving intensity, steely acidity and a long finish this is a well balanced, full throttle, thrilling wine. Their late picked 'Aria' Riesling is medium sweet and just as delicious. Both are fairly priced around £21.50 at The New Zealand Cellar (click through).
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