Do you want to know what's hot in the wine world? Here's the top 10 trends:
1. Rose Wine
2. Grower Champagne
3. Metropolitan Wineries
4. Natural Wines
5. Fruit days, Root Days...
6. More Wine Drinkers in America
7. Screwcaps & Box Wines
8. Lower Alcohol Wine
9. Biodynamics & Eco-Friendly wine
10. Dessert Wine, Port & Sherry
1. Rose Wines
Rosé wines are all over the shelves in local Seattle wine shops but the trend is still growing! I'll let you in on the secret: rosé wines are perfect for BBQs, lazy afternoon tea time, light lunches and family gatherings. What makes these wines so great is that they beg to be drunk and enjoyed, not brooded over like their darker counterparts. Here are a couple great rosé wines to try:
Barnard Griffin Rose of Sangiovese - omg the color of this wine is incredible w/ tangy citrus fruit, blood orange, peach and sweet cranberry
Muga Rose - 60% garnacha, 30% Viura and 10% tempranillo wow, this one smells so fruity and fabulous, with a backbone of some more earthy notes than the Barnard Griffin, still zesty and fun
K Vintners Syrah of Rose - If you're looking for a crazy rose experience, syrah tastes much meatier as a rose wine, I find it to smell like strawberries and salumi at the same time, super whacky!
2. Grower Producer Champagne
Grower producer Champagne is actually a bit of a rarity. Most of the wine grapes from over 15,000 growers in Champagne go directly to large Champagne houses like Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. Originally, this was due to the expense of the Champagne production method, but with the help of technology advancement we will see more "recoltant-manipulant (RM)" or grower champagnes in the market! Growers have greater power and incentive to ensure the grapes they select for their own wines are at the best possible ripeness level. Often, you can find producer champagne for a better value than the a comparable major brand. If you are interested in grower champagne, look for the letters "RM" (récoltants-manipulant) on the label, which indicates that it's a grower-producer. You can also look for CM (co-operative-manipulants) but not NM (négociant manipulant) or MA (marque d'acheteur). I'll list a few of my favorites below.
Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru (NV)
Veuve Fourny & Fils Rose Premier Cru Vertus Brut (NV)
2002 Launois Brut Blanc de Blancs Vintage Champagne
Collard-Picard "Cuvee Selection" Brut Champagne
3. Metropolitan Wineries
Brooklyn Winery, City Winery (Manhattan) and Crushpad in San Francisco are making a big splash in cities around the country. Metropolitan wineries often source their grapes from the state they're in, although some grapes travel a very long way to get crushed and fermented (California to New York or even Bordeaux to California!). The great thing about city wineries is that it gives the public greater exposure to the wine making process. You can literally make your own wine label! Wanna make wine? Note that a typical wine barrel will produce about 280 bottles of wine which is only about 23 cases. the perfect starting size...
4. Natural Wines
The term "natural wine" is a little nebulous, but since the term resembles the whole food, slow food, and eco-sustainability movement, natural wines are gaining popularity. A natural wine typically has a hands-off approach to wine making. Once the grapes have been crushed, fermentation happens with wild yeasts and there is no fining or filtering done to the wine. White wines can be cloudy or even have an orange tinge from lack of fining agents to remove yeasts and excess coloring. Red wines have sediment from skins and dead yeast particles. Of course, there would be no sulfur added to a natural wine. Many French and European wines are made in this "natural" fashion and some are wonderful, but lots have this funky old baby diaper aroma that I like to describe at poogy (half splooge, half poo). Despite all the pooge out there... there are also natural wines that will put a sparkle in your eye:
Zind-Humbrecht 2007 "Pinot d'Alsace" (Alsace, France) - Pinot d'Alsace is kind of a catch all name for a wine style made in Alsace, France using free-run juice of pinot noir, pinot munier & pinot gris, it has a honey-gold hue and has flavors of honey, tangerine, lemon rind & this really captivating and intense fresh green crunch that reminds me of biting into a celery stick!
2000 (or 2002!) Lopez de Heredia "Viña Bosconia" Reserva Rioja (Rioja Alta, Spain ) - Possibly the oldest bodega in Rioja that despite a beautiful redesigning of the winery still practices very ancient techniques of winemaking.
5. Fruit Day, Flower Day, Root Day & Leaf Days
Have you ever tried a delicious bottle of wine and then drank the same wine on a separate occasion only to find it didn't taste as good? Apparently, the moon effects the taste of wine! Observing moon cycles is a biodynamic farming technique which indicates the best times to plant, prune and harvest. Every day the month can correlated to a fruit day, root day, leaf day or flower day. For example, a root day is a good day to prune plants or cut your hair. In the UK a supermarket chain tested this theory by coordinated their wine tastings either on fruit or flower days. So I've been casually testing this theory for the last 6 months and wine does taste better on fruit days and flower days! Don't take my word for it, try it out for yourself!
6. More Wine Drinkers in America
Wine drinking and wine drinkers are on the rise in the United States! According to Trade Data & Analysis (TDA) the United States is pulling out their corkscrews and drinking more wine all around. Since 2004 wine consumption in the US has increased by 15%. Although consumption is relatively low at 10 liters per person (only 12 bottles per person per year), we cannot deny that with a population of 300 million, that's almost 4 billion bottles of wine a year. Compared to the UK (who drinks almost 20 liters per person per year) they still are only at around 1.5 billion bottles annually. we are wine-drinking winners... woot!
7. Screwcaps and Box Wine
Screwcap wines try harder. We Americans are fickle, we associate screwcaps with low value wine, however, this might not always be the case! In Australia, most wineries have completely converted to screwcaps, including one of my favorite high-end barossa wines. I have to admit it's a little shocking paying $90 for a wine with a screw top, but I usually forget about this small detail when I smell the fantastic aromas pouring out of the glass. One saving grace about screwcaps: you don't get corked bottles! (which is known to affect about 10-15% of corked wines) Here are a couple of no-joke screwcap wines that are so awesome they will make your face hurt:
Plumpjack 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - McWillians Oakville, CA drink now till 2019
Kay Brothers Block 6 2005 Shiraz - McClaren Vale, South Australia drink now till 2025
8. Lower Alcohol Wines
Randy Dunn of California cult wine Dunn Vineyards has been a proponent of lower alcohol wines (nothing above 14%) since he started his Howell Mountain estate up in the hills above Napa. The rest of new world winemakers are starting to head that way as we realize that complexity in a wine is often overshadowed by the burn of alcohol. California cult wine makers like Helen Turley, Sine Que Non and Washington state's, Quilceda Creek, had the world in a tizzy over high alcohol wines in the early 2000s. Skeptics immediately responded noting how alcohol levels were so high that the wines would "trick" wine reviewers with their overwhelming oily sensation based on the alcohol viscosity. We'll be seeing lower alcohol wines as new world winemakers move towards balance.
2002 Dunn Vineyards Cab Sauv Howell Mountain
9. Biodynamic and Eco-Friendly Wines
The turn towards biodynamic farming started as an outcry against mass market agricultural science of the 1950s. The idea of biodynamics is relatively simple, but in practice can be very involved and a even a little strange. Basically, the idea is to observe the natural conditions of the vineyard; the land, the vine and the microclimate. With these observations then a vineyard keeper can decide to apply or remove natural agents to produce an optimal harvest. Natural agents can be anything from choosing to grow grass in between the vineyard rows or sending a herd of goats into the vineyard to clear weeds. In a situation where soil needs to be affected, composts and organic matter (the more bizarre involves animal bones) may be added to the top soil to affect the pH balance of the soil or salinity. Recently the Wine Institute in the USA has implemented a third-party certified sustainable wine program. Originally the program was based on self-evaluation, but now, with third-party approval, there will be more truth to putting the "sustainable" label on wines.
10. Dessert Wine, Port & Sherry - STICKIES!
Port, sherry and dessert wine has come a long way since our moms and grandmothers sipped their sherry. In Portugal, Port houses have renewed their winemaking methods and facilities to produce even higher quality and age worthy vintages. In 1994 and 2007 we saw two remarkable declared vintages that will be the future Ports of the century. Producers in Australia and California excel at getting ultimate levels of ripeness which makes them perfect candidates for dessert wine (sticky) production on a international level. Since fortified wines like Sherry and Port last open for up to a month, they make great night caps. here's my list of tasty ports, sherries and sweet-n-tasty wine:
Smith & Woodhouse 1994 Vintage Port
Toro Albala 1979 Gran Reserva P.X.
Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado Sherry
RL Buller Tawny
RL Buller Fine Muscat