TASTE THE TRENDS PANEL DISCUSSION: HEARING FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS ON THE KEY WINE TRENDS OF THE NEAR FUTURE
With a new generation of wine consumers emerging, winemakers and producers are faced with new purchasing habits and attitudes towards consumption and sustainability.
During Berkmann Wine Cellars’ Annual Portfolio Tasting, we brought together industry and press to hear fellow wine experts discuss emerging trends. Each panellist selected a different wine to highlight the key trends shaping the 2020 wine landscape, as consumers seek higher-quality products that meet their taste and sustainability expectations.
Whilst a buzzword that consumers are getting tired of hearing, sustainability was a main focus of the discussion; however, the conversation went beyond the environment and its preservation, also discussing sustainability in relation to society and culture, a concept that has formed a common thread throughout the wine industry.
It is no longer a question of whether a company is sustainable; rather, the question has flipped to why it isn’t sustainable. There is a need to think beyond the immediate, to think beyond what is sprayed on the vines, but to look at energy usage, packaging, knock-on effects on the ecosystem, and the relationship producers have with their employees and the local community. The true visionaries in the industry are embracing this message and going above and beyond to give back to the place where the wine is made.
The panel and their wine selection:
Andrew Catchpole, Editor Harpers Wine & Spirit presented Unico Zelo “The River”, Nero d’Avola (Australia), from a young producer working at the cutting edge of Australian wine identity. Unico Zelo are supporting the growing trend of nurturing varieties better suited to warm, dry climates, requiring no irrigation in a country where water is a scarce resource. Andrew noted the same trend can be seen in South Africa and Lebanon, among other countries.
Antoine Pétrus, Managing Director of Les Maisons de Taillevent, chose Champagne Drappier Brut Nature Sans Soufre (France), a 100% Pinot Noir champagne made with zero additions of dosage or sulphur. Antoine discussed the new grapes such as Pinot Blanc that are becoming increasingly important in the diversification and development of Champagne. Champagne explored sustainability initiatives through the 1970s and 80s, introducing alternative harvesting methods and biodynamics. As the first Champagne house to be certified Carbon Neutral, Drappier is representative of the movement to make Champagne a more sustainable region, whilst embodying its dense and rich history.
Bill Knott, Food & Drink Writer, presented T-OINOS Clos Stegasta Assyrtiko (Greece),celebrating the rise of the island wine. On the Cyclades island of Tinos, T-OINOS creates premium wines from its 9-hectare vineyard, retaining a sense of heritage, creativity and innovation. T-OINOS goes beyond being an environmentally sustainable winery, offering a salvation to the community with employment. It is not a wine that takes from the land, but rather one that gives to its land.
Emma Dawson MW, Senior Wine Buyer, Berkmann Wine Cellars presented Tblivino Qvevris Rkatsiteli, an orange wine from Georgia. Orange wines have experienced immense retail demand in recent years, as the consumer becomes more adventurous and diverse in their selection. Orange wine, whilst on the surface embodying the new and innovative, in reality harks back to a historic wine production method thousands of years old.
Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL, Head Chef of Café Spice Namaste, chose Tascante Contrada Rampante (Etna, Italy). Typically, Indian food has been matched with high alcohol, heavy wines, but Cyrus suggests a new trend is emerging: a desire for lighter, complex, yet drinkable wines, and the volcanic soil of Etna produces exactly this. It is not only the winemakers who are understanding the need to respect the land and community, but also wider industry experts as put by Cyrus: “I can’t change what’s in the bottle – I have to respect it. But I can mould my food based on the wine.”
Alex Hunt MW, Purchasing Director, Berkmann Wine Cellars presented Pisoni Lucia Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands (California). Whilst not an exotic grape or a particularly exotic terroir, Alex highlights the modern, forward-thinking and thoughtful attitudes of the 2ndgeneration family owners. With a high level of sustainability that encompasses the environment, society and culture, the trailblazing US producers create wines of great clarity and transparency, which are capturing the minds of restaurateurs and distributors alike.
Woven within the key trends each panel member discussed is the idea that “fads” come and go, but excellent and authentic products can to an extent decouple themselves from the wheel of fashion and therefore enjoy an extended life cycle. A wine that is both delicious and meaningful will likely have the most enduring future.