Anthony Rose: 'A strong euro and a burgeoning global market could make life difficult for those with a limited wine budget'
Saturday 02 January 2010
Stargazers are two a penny at this time of year, but predicting 2010's wine trends need not be a total mug's game. To look forward in wine – reculer pour mieux sauter, as the French would have it – is the way. One of the big events this year, for instance, is likely to be the sale of Bordeaux 2009 vintage this spring. Bordeaux predictions should be taken with a larger than usual pinch of salt, but after three average years since the great 2005 vintage, reliable noises coming out of the region suggest that 2009 could rank alongside 2005. As ever, price will be the key. A strong euro and a burgeoning global market fuelled by new Asian wealth could make life difficult for those of us with an honest interest in – but limited budget for – great claret.
Burgundy looks a year further back as the 2008 vintage comes on sale here this month. After an unpromising early diagnosis, the grapevine suggests that it could be a delicious short- to medium-term option. French vineyards were blessed last year, and Beaujolais – no, not the ghastly nouveau – could start to make the comeback the best of its nubile, unoaked wines deserve. Rhône lovers need to look back to 2007, a fabulous vintage that makes Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueyras a candidate for squirreling away. And if you didn't pick up a Christmas champagne bargain, not to worry. While Jay-Z and Beyoncé sip Armand de Brignac gold at £250 a pop, mere mortals will party on this year to the tune of champagne's ongoing Sale of the Century.
In the New World, nothing can rain on New Zealand's sauvignon blanc parade, while Burgundy and Rhône lovers looking for value will do well to turn their attention to New Zealand's sexy pinot noirs and its aromatic, up-and-coming syrahs from Hawkes Bay. Australia's wine glut may be a silver lining for consumers, and its regions will come into sharper focus this year: Margaret River for chardonnay, sauvignon/semillon and cabernet, Adelaide Hills for chardonnay and shiraz, Coonawarra for cabernet, Yarra Valley for chardonnay and pinot noir, Mornington for pinot noir and Tasmania for aromatic varieties.
Chile's Pacific-influenced, aromatic white wines will remain hard to beat for good value. Argentina's strong suit will continue with malbec, one of the world's brightest and most accessible reds. South Africa, with an adrenaline rush from the World Cup, will do a good job of showcasing its exciting new twist on white wine blends and its steady improvement in shiraz. Europe will match the New World for value as we turn increasingly to the Mediterranean regions of southern France, Italy, Spain and Greece.
Let's not ignore the classics, though, because 2005 reservas from Rioja are excellent, with lovely wines too coming out of Ribera del Duero and Priorat. Italy's breathtaking 2004 barolos are still on the market, while new-style Piedmontese barbera and vibrant dolcetto are the more accessible, and affordable, options. German riesling may have lost its stigma, but it will have stiff competition from Austria's aromatic grüner veltliner and Spain's bracing dry white albariño and verdejo. Portugal's reputation for new-wave reds from the Douro, Dão and Alentejo will grow and rosé will remain at least as popular as it's become, with more than one in 10 bottles of wine sold now pink. Yes, the future is looking distinctly rosé.
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