What does the New Year hold for oenophiles? It looks quite rosy: a broader palette of wine styles and better quality all around.
Wines once considered exotic, such as albariño, grüner veltliner, picpoul de pinet and grechetto are now supermarket own-brand favourites. Every supermarket worth its salt now has its own Aussie chardonnay, Marlborough sauvignon, Cape pinotage, Chilean merlot and Argentinian malbec. And Eastern Europe has now gone full circle with Hungary, Romania and Croatia making a comeback and the wines of Turkey, Lebanon and Israel moving into the frame, too.
My crystal ball may be hazy, but I predict a strong showing in 2015 for southern Italy and the extraordinary wines of Etna. South Africa is on a high with the rise of Swartland. And white blends add a double string to the Cape's bow. Portuguese dry whites will grow in popularity too, this year, as we discover how delicious they can be. After shiraz, cabernet and chardonnay, Aussie pinot noir is the next bright new thing to emerge from Down Under: with both the 2012 and 2013 vintages on song for the burgundian variety. When we think of malbec, we summon up images of Argentina, but spare a thought for the tasty malbecs emerging from the grape's other homeland of Cahors. Nouveau may be out of favour, but real beaujolais is deservedly gaining ground.
Dry riesling, dry German especially, is one of my favourite wines, so there's an element of he-would-say-that in suggesting it's set to make a bigger splash this year. Speaking of wishful thinking, the buzz around sherry hasn't yet translated into industry joy, but the tapas-bar buzz is helping to get the message about fino and manzanilla across – so expect more next year. Not everything that sparkles is Champagne, and while prosecco continues its climb to the heavens, for drier and more stylish fizz, there's a fad for Franciacorta right now. English fizz, too, is benefiting from the fact that people are no longer just drinking sparkling wine on special occasions.
What of the classics, though? Bordeaux, once the only fine wine in town, has lost the wow factor after three average vintages, 2011-2013, that weren't pitched cheaply enough to arouse any great interest. It could come good in 2015, but all depends on the willingess of the 'never knowingly oversold' Bordelais to be reasonable. Don't hold your breath. With Bordeaux in the doldrums, Burgundy is the hot fine wine ticket, assisted by good recent vintages and the outsmarting of Bordeaux with niche production and a grower-oriented, small-is-beautiful image. If the 2013 vintage about to come on to the market is good and not stupidly priced, Burgundy could certainly be the wine of next year.Reuse content