It’s hard to believe we are already 1 month into 2018. The Swan Valley wine region (Western Australia) has already started harvest for the 2018 vintage. And with the start of the vintage comes questions about what the ’18 wines will be like and what the world of wine bring us this year.
While pondering the year ahead over a glass of Chardonnay recently, I came up with the idea for this post.
I have spent the last few weeks reaching out to high-profile wine industry experts from around the world to get their opinion on wine in 2018. A massive thanks to those who got back to me and contributed to this article. I found it super interesting reading all these responses, and I have no doubt you guys will too!
Wine Enthusiast Magazine (AU & NZ Wine Reviewer)
This is what I HOPE will happen! ;-)
“A meteor will drop from the sky inexplicably wiping out all of the world’s “low-calorie” wines and any others attempting to prey on women’s body images for profit by flaunting sexist names and labels, thereby dumbing down the drinking experience for women everywhere. Filling the gap left by these vacant, soulless wines will rise small-scale, artisan ones. Women (and men) everywhere will realize that lovingly made wines hand-crafted through gentle and natural processes from grapes grown in soils that still have life left in them, where birds and bees still happily dwell, are far better for them than those sprung Frankenstein-like from a veritable wine factory.”'A meteor will drop from the sky inexplicably wiping out all of the world’s 'low-calorie' wines and any others attempting to prey on women’s body images' via @winewchristina #wineClick To Tweet
Multi-award winning wine writer, television presenter & international speaker
Champagne will continue to grow in Australia, already the biggest market per head of population outside Europe! Key growth categories will be rose, vintage and prestige. Champagne growers are under-represented in Australia and their presence will continue to grow gradually in 2018.
Cool climate wines are all the rage as our climate continues to warm and our tastes become ever more refined. Tasmania leads the way, and this Australia’s boutique island state will continue to rise in demand and in price, raising the existing pressure on production, which is already struggling to meet demand.
Australian wine exports to China are booming, setting new records month after month, and further relaxations in duties will fuel our biggest export market more than ever in 2018.
The trend to redefine Australia’s regions in the wake of global warming will pick up the pace in 2018. Already Rhone varietals are beginning to replace Burgundy varietals on the Yarra Valley floor. Nationwide, cooler climate varietals will push higher up hillsides and into ever cooler microclimates in an attempt to retain elegance and balance.
While the niche fascinations of alternative varietals, natural winemaking and marginal regions will continue to tick along haphazardly, the core of quality will remain fundamentally on the mainstream varieties that we know and love, from the celebrated, foundation regions of Australia’s wine history.
Master of Wine – Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting
For the Chinese market, I am very scared to make predictions, but I will give it a shot.
In first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, there will be growing sophistication in wine selection – and consumers will look for more adventurous styles, like an increasing number of white wines (particularly chardonnay), more and more middle-income consumers will be looking to buy good value for money wines occasionally to drink with friends. The Australian fine wine market will continue to be Penfold’s dominated, but I hope that there will be a growing awareness of other areas like Western Australia and Victoria.
In second-tier cities, I hope that there will be an increasing trend for consumers to explore more types of wine – particularly on the eastern seaboard in terms of white wines. I see more consumers buying wine in these places as an enjoyable beverage and not necessarily a gift or status symbol.
Third and fourth-tier cities have a long way to go in terms of market development but they should continue to improve.
Overall I believe that online sales will continue to grow in China as more people explore wine and incorporate it into more daily life. The number of tourists from China travelling abroad is also increasing very quickly and this, in turn, encourages many to explore the wines that they taste on their travels – something particularly relevant to Australia and New Zealand. I think this will also result in the growth of styles of wine other than ‘DRY RED’ as people realise the diversity and choice in wine styles.
Dan Murphy’s Tasting Panel Co-ordinator
So, what will we be drinking in 2018?
Along with all the gin and craft beer our customers have discovered, we are seeing continued strong wine category growth in rosé and prosecco. For rosé, the paler (pink) and drier, the better. Prosecco is providing sparkling wine drinkers with an inexpensive and tasty alternative to champagne and sales continue to skyrocket. It will be interesting to see what happens to sales should the term “prosecco” be banned for Australian versions.
The rise and rise of lighter reds continues unabated. Pinot noirs, especially Tasmanian, are taking more and more room in customers’ trolleys. There is definitely a trend away from traditional extracted, concentrated reds towards more fragrant, savoury, food-friendly reds. Even shiraz wines from traditional regions like the Barossa Valley are becoming lighter, spicier and more elegant.
Watch out for grenache this year. The variety finished 2017 by cleaning up at 3 major wine shows. Winemakers are picking it earlier and keeping colour lighter, retaining aromatics and encouraging savouriness. These modern versions are delightful. Just think, 40 years ago the South Australian government was paying for grenache to be ripped out!
Lighter imported reds such as Cotes du Rhone and Beaujolais are capturing more hearts. We brought in a beauty last year – Guillaume Gonnet “Le Reveur” Cotes du Rhone. It seems to typify what people are after at the moment with its garrigue fragrance, and was an instant sales success.
More and more we are hearing our customers say that they are chilling their lighter reds. And why not? Lighter, fragrant reds perform very well when chilled and match very well with our preferred summer menus of salads, seafood and fragrant asian dishes.
Whether it’s the crisp “grigio” style or the textural “gris” version, our sales of pinot grigio/gris are predicted to keep climbing in 2018. If you’re looking for a long-shot in whites, vermentino looks a good chance to grow from its tiny sales base.
Contrary to all of this lightness and savouriness, we are detecting, with our chardonnay buyers, a trend towards drinking a fuller, “Californian style” wine. What comes around goes around. Oak could be making a comeback! Watch out for more Californian chardonnays hitting our shores.
2018 should see the emergence in Australia of an overseas trend towards sherry consumption, especially the pale, dry styles of fino and manzanilla. They are one of the bargains of the wine world. It’s happening in New York and London so watch this space.
How are our customers shopping with us in 2018?
More deliveries, more “click and collects” – the smart phone has never been handier.
Which parts of the world do our wine customers want to travel to this year?
Unequivocally, two places – Porto and Sicily. They are all my wine friends want to talk about. They just want to sail up the Douro or climb Mt Etna. Who can blame them?
One final tip for 2018…the movement towards healthier living will see sales growth in organic and preservative free wines.
I’ll certainly be making every glass count in 2018. Cheers.'Watch out for grenache this year. The variety finished 2017 by cleaning up at 3 major wine shows. Winemakers are picking it earlier and keeping colour lighter, retaining aromatics and encouraging savouriness.' via @danmurphys #wineClick To Tweet
I’m no expert, rather a passionate wine lover. However, my prediction for 2018 is the (further) emergence of unique and creative wine packaging. In the last few weeks alone we have seen wine in a can options hit the shelves. Last year I tried Tote Wines, which are a modern-day twist on goon and pretty darn tasty too.
I think we’ll see more creativity when it comes to this marketing side of wine and not only that but more emphasis on the quality of this wine. Great marketing and eye-catching designs are one thing, but a lot of creative marketing-led wine brands are realising that what’s inside is just as important. Let’s call it creative quality wines for the win in 2018!