Languedoc at a premium
In the price war between Languedoc and Spanish wines, it seems inevitable that Languedoc viticulture will have to play the upscale card, offering wines of the terroir, where the expression of the soil is transplanted into the glass. To do this, we need strong authorities and winegrowers who are aware that the challenge is quality and not necessarily price. Pious wishes? We’ll see about that.
Digitalisation and the growth of online sales
It is no longer a secret: online wine sales are growing exponentially. New start-ups appear regularly, featuring sommeliers, stars, consultants, sellers and buyers, Swiss knives and misinformation. The takeover of the Petit Ballon by Vente-Privée will be a landmark event, and other initiatives are likely to follow in the coming months. In any case, the digital share (social networks and online sales) will increase in 2018 and the turnover of online sales is likely to explode. It must be said that everything has still to be created and that many initiatives are taking place.
A new business model for the press
Neal Martin’s departure from The Wine Advocate (Robert Parker) to work for its deadly rival Vinous (Antonio Galloni) marks a Copernican change among American critics. Parker is no longer the centre. In France, the abandoning by Le Figaro of its acquisition of Bettane+Desseauve also marks a turning point. The wine press is dying. Independent critics and pay-as-you-go offers will tend to multiply and replace the brand content-driven advertising offers that readers no longer want. The Internet should play a leading role in an increasingly information-intensive wine world. Living or dying will be the question.
Fresh, more drinkability and fruity wines
It is a revolution that has already begun, but which saw its intellectual acme in 2017. Today, consumers are looking for wines that are fresher, more drinkable and more fruity, even if they prefer carbonic maceration (like many natural wines, by the way). Whatever the case, the essential thing is the desire for loving fruity wine. It is an essential point for any wine lover.
An atomisation of natural wines, to the benefit of biodynamic wines
They made a lot of noise in 2017. A lot of whining, too. The servants of the cause are beginning to reveal their true faces as evangelizers of their own mercantile cause. So, many makers of natural wines are switching to the other side; to biodynamic wines. There they find standards, a code of ethics, a real philosophy. This is all to the delight of consumers, who are not mistaken.
The end of Bordeaux bashing
At the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, it was good to bash Bordeaux. Quality did not always arrive at the rendezvous (it is necessary to acknowledge it) and prices were not always fixed with elegance. But here it is: Burgundy dreams of financialisation, many Languedoc wines have become excessively expensive in relation to their quality, the Loire is in search of itself, and other regions are experiencing significant price increases, all of which is enough for Bordeaux to get itself back into the game. This is especially true since vintages such as 2016 and 2017 are cut for the contemporary fashion of freshness and fruitiness. Coupled with the great value that everyone recognizes, it seems that the Bordeaux bashing is set to fly away.
The price of land
In Burgundy in particular, the price of land is reaching new heights. The most recent purchases prove it, and the big movements are already at work. In the coming months, further sales announcements will continue to gain much attention. In Bordeaux, it is the same debate. While some families can still compete, it seems that the institutions are beginning to take control of the vineyards. Some people are moved by this. The efforts made by these neo-owners in Calon Ségur or Soutard, for example, are preferable to the planned disappearance of beautiful properties. In any case, the earth will never have cost so much and this trend is not about to fade.
Rising prices due to low production
Forest fires, drought, frost and hail, El Niño – we were spared nothing in 2017. A significant resulting drop in world production should, unfortunately, lead inexorably to a rise in prices. But apart from living elsewhere, we are still in a system of supply and demand.
Wine AND gastronomy
The emergence of wine bars, “caves à mangere”, restaurants, bistrots focusing on affordable wines, defined by a philosophy, will be a strong trend of 2018. As in 2017, by the way. What’s going to change? One change is that the press should finally consider wine as an integral part of the art of gastronomy, and that its letters of nobility be restored to the pairing of food and wine, or the cultural melting pot between gastronomy and wine.
Urban wines and wines from négoce
Whether it is in the city, for urban wines, or in the vineyard, for négoce, the purchase of grapes is becoming a fundamental trend. Whether it is famous Bordeaux or Burgundian winegrowers who sign bottles in less prestigious appellations to promote their brands and know-how, or urban wineries that flourish in Paris or elsewhere, the tendency to buy grapes and vinify them according to their own know-how will grow strongly. Already in Burgundy, many winegrowers are offering “house” or “trading” wines. The time has come for the winemaker to become a brand.
Consumers are rightly increasingly concerned about their health. They ask to be informed and reassured. In this way, societal pressure is strong on wine-growing that is not always irreproachable, whatever the region. Then the street rumbles and the winegrowers will have to adapt – fortunately, by the way. It is a trend, which many have not yet identified, unfortunately!