Crystal ball-gazing, as astrologers will tell you, involves interpreting yesterday's runes, call them what you will, and fashioning them into tomorrow's near-certainties. Bordeaux's new trade pact with Pu'er tea suggests that it can work as well with wine as tea leaves. So if the previous year's harvest is a major clue as to how the world's wines will turn out this year, it's not going to take Einstein to work out that for the second year running, Bordeaux is likely to suffer at the hands of Burgundy.
The Bordeaux 2012 vintage is looking like an improvement on the 2011, but it's unlikely to match either 2009 or 2010 as a futures vintage worth buying. More of a problem is that Bordeaux overplayed its hand with the exorbitant pricing of its 2011 vintage last year. It expected the Chinese to bite but when they rejected Bordelais avarice, the world's biggest fine wine region was left with egg on its face and wine in the cellar. A significant price gesture when the new vintage is tasted and released this spring could go some way towards redressing the balance, but you'd have to be a professional poker player to bet on it.
Burgundy's star, on the other hand, is rising thanks to excellent vintages, improved quality and relatively sensible pricing. It kicks off the New Year with tastings of the last-but-one vintage next week and the signs are encouraging for a delicious red Burgundy vintage worth stocking up on. All the more so because of small quantities and high prices of the 2012 vintage at the barometer Hospices de Beaune auction in November. Early birds can catch the tastiest worms when the wines will be available for tasting and purchase (check out my site anthonyrosewine.com for a list of specialist merchants with tastings next week).
Elsewhere, the crystal ball is pointing towards New Zealand growing further in popularity and Spain offering some of the best-value-for-money wines outside the classic regions of Rioja and Ribera. Australia, too, will make a powerful comeback despite a strong Aussie dollar and Portugal will be the surprise package. Fino and manzanilla sherry are already on a roll, German's dry rieslings will feature and English fizz will build on the success achieved on the back of the Diamond Jubilee.
In other wine news, the Government's flawed plans to introduce minimum pricing to curb binge drinking look like falling flat on their face. Pinched pockets and continuing duty hikes will slow down wine sales, although it will continue its upward trajectory in discount stores and through online sales.
There's even cause for optimism at the premium wine level as our thirst for quality grows. Wishful thinking? Time, and the runes, will tell.