Searching out French wine trends in 2019

As 2019 continues to unfold, it’s fascinating to find out from wine experts which wine trends they expect to see this year. In this blog, we’re looking at French wine trends for 2019 in particular, and finding out which grape varieties, wine styles and regions will be successful.

Consumer concerns impact French wine trends

With an increasing focus on the environmental impact of the wine industry, we can expect to see fairtrade, organic and responsible farming to increase. Nicolas Emereau, director of Alliance Loire says: “People are concerned about wine’s environmental impact, and also additives. In 2019, we should rediscover the wines from the cool French regions: Burgundy, Alsace and Loire Valley have their role to play. The main thing, in my mind, will be the reds. With the 2018 vintage, we could change the ideas that many people have about reds from northern regions.”

White French wines popular in the UK

As well as an increased interest in reds from northern France, the love affair between UK consumers and French white wines will continue. British wine lovers are turning more towards lighter, more expressive whites.

Deputy director of Central-Loire Valley Wines, Edouard Mognetti, says: “British consumers love white wines, and especially Sauvignon Blanc. I’m confident this love affair will continue in 2019. What is changing, however, is that they are no longer just looking for a wine: they are looking for stories, for expertise, for terroir.”

Mr Mognetti says that Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Centre-Loire region fulfils this: “As British wine drinkers increasingly turn to lighter but expressive wines, they will also enjoy exploring single varietal Pinot Nor and blends of Pinot and Gamay.”

Higher altitude wines more popular

According to Gabirle Meffre’s export manager, Anthony Taylor, varieties of wines in the Côtes du Rhône region are becoming more popular. He says: “Clairette is enjoying renewed interest, and also Bourboulenc, thanks to its brisk acidity. The Rhône Valley will become more popular, with a focus on higher altitude wines, such as those from Dentelles, Ventoux and St Péray.He also expects to see a shift towards “elegant, crisp whites with good minerality”, and for reds, trends will include vibrant, fresh and juicy styles.

We can also expect an upsurge in high quality pale rosé wines throughout 2019, according to the chief agronomist at Foncalieu, Gabriel Reutsch. He expects… “single varietal Versant Grenache rose from the IGP Pay’s d’Oc or the Piquepoul rosé, which uses the forgotten grape variety Piquepoul Noir to make a modern style wine” to be popular.

The importance of sustainability

Whether consumers are buying wine online, or heading to taster sessions at wine makers, there is an increasing focus on sustainability. The director of Domaine Grand Mayne, Mathieu Crosnier, goes as far as to say that sustainability is more important than the vineyard’s name.

He says: “The time when the quality of the wine or the name of the vineyard were the most important thing is over. Now, consumers want to drink quality with the assurance of sustainability. The finesse, the freshness, the balance of the wines are a lot more important than the varieties of the grape.” For Mr Crosnier, character and identity are vital for consumers. He points towards the south-west region of France as popular due to its identity-driven vineyards.



Buying wine in 2019 – upcoming industry trade fairs around the world

While buying wine is often based on individual consumer choices, the wider industry does affect upcoming buyer trends. Throughout 2019, there are a number of industry events and wine fairs that will be showcasing what’s new, what’s popular and what’s worth tasting in 2019.

Buying wine in 2019: industry events

The suitably glamourous destination of Cannes, France hosts the annual Pink Rose Festival. This year it will be held on 7 and 8 February and continues to be the only industry show dedicated solely to all things rose.

It’s relatively new on the scene, as it launched in 2017. The event differs from many industry shows as it doesn’t focus solely on producers showing their wares. It also facilitates connections between wine buyers and producers, including one-to-one meetings during the two days. Every wine producer is given at least 16 tailored appointments with potential buyers, an approach which aims to shift the traditional model. The show focuses on three main events: The Tasting Zone, the Masterclass Theatre and the Pink Rose Festival Awards.

Two become one in Paris

Also in February (11 to 13), Wine Paris brings together two well established wine trade shows. VinoVision and ViniSud are joining up under the name Wine Paris for the first time in 2019.

ViniSud concentrates on wines from the Mediterranean southern coast area of France and VinoVision shows off wines from the cooler norther climes. This includes wine producers from the Loire, Champagne, Jura, Alsace, Burgundy and Beaujolais. With 1,300 exhibitors and an expected visitor count of 25,000 it looks set to be popular and useful for buyers looking to understand an extensive range of wines from different regions.

Quarter century anniversary for German show

ProWein is due to celebrate its 25th anniversary with its March event situated in Dusseldorf. It’s one of the biggest wine trade shows in the world and welcomes more than 60,000 professionals from the wine industry. Around 7,000 exhibitors from every major wine region across the globe are represented.

In Italy, the biggest trade-only show in the world will mark its 53rd event in April 2019. Each year, more than 130,000 visitors meet over 4,000 exhibitors to discuss all things wine. There are tasting sessions for wines from every part of Italy, from Sicily to Tuscany, Veneto to Campania and much more. Last year, 128,000 people from 143 countries came to the show.

Here in the UK, the Wine & Spirits Show is planning its second ever event at the Horseguards Hotel, London in April. It’s aimed at wine lovers based in London and expects to welcome about 1,500 members of the wine buying public. One of the halls is dedicated purely to wine, while the other concentrates on spirits, and both halls will feature a New Products Zone to inform buyers of emerging trends this year.

London Wine Fair returns

This year marks the 39th edition of the London Wine Fair, hosted in Kensington. It’s the biggest wine exhibition in the UK and attracts all kinds of exhibitors. These range from large, generic bodies to UK importers, right the way through to individual start-ups looking for representation.

Attendance in 2018 was 17% up on the year before, with 26% of those visiting for the first time. It will again include an Innovation Zone, to showcase new exhibitors, products and tech new for this year.

These are just some of the events happening all around the world in 2019, promising an exciting year for wine lovers everywhere.



How to keep enjoying wine by saving a spoiled bottle

Over the festive period, most people enjoy a few bottles of wine. Whether it’s a dinner party, New Year’s Eve bash or one of the many holiday celebrations, the chances are you have too.

And finding out a favourite bottle has gone off is always disappointing. It’s easy to tell when a wine has been tainted – as soon as you take a sip, you’ll just know. But instead of pouring it down the sink or throwing it away, there is a wine hack that can save it for another day. All you need is a penny.

Enjoying wine the day after a party

The American Chemical Society says that you can save your wine with a penny. The most important thing to do is make sure the penny is as clean as possible before you put it in your wine. When it’s definitely clean, drop it in your wine and let science do the work.

It’s all down to the copper in the coin reacting to the sulphur molecules generated in wine during fermentation. These molecules form ‘thiol’ compounds and make copper sulphide crystals. As these crystals are odourless, they react with the spoiled wine and get rid of the tainted smell and flavour.

Other uses for leftover wine

If you don’t want to drop a coin in your wine, there are still plenty of options for wine that’s not at its best. Here are just a few examples of things to do with wine that isn’t quite good enough to drink:

  1. Marinate your dinner

Probably the most common use for red wine that’s past its peak, marinades are the perfect way to add more flavour to your dinner. There are plenty of recipes for savoury red wine marinades for steak and meat dishes, as well as white wine options for chicken and vegetables.

  1. Use red wine as a dye

A more unusual use for leftover red wine is to dye some fabric. While spilling red wine on a tablecloth or white shirt is normally something to avoid, you can use it to die large pieces of fabric, such as tablecloths, t-shirts and sheets. All you need is a decent sized pot, an oven and red wine.

  1. Make wine burgers

Rather than using the wine as a marinade, this recipe is for burgers with wine in them. The red wine is cooked down with dark sugar and then used as a rub for the burgers. Merlot, Cabernet and Spanish red wines are all good choices for a delicious wine burger.

You can also use leftover wine to make jam, as a reduction for a dessert, to make vinegar and even as a cleaner. Just don’t throw it away!

Increasing number of consumers buying wine online

Many consumers now buy goods and services online. The world is ever more connected, and there are more new ways to shop than ever before. Despite this, just 21% of UK consumers reported buying wine online in a report from analytics company Profitero.

The report shows that the UK leads Europe in buying wine online and comes in behind China at 27% and Japan at 22%. Interestingly, the global average was just 8% according to the Global Connected Commerce report in 2016, which included more than 30,000 people across 63 countries.

Buying wine online still has huge potential

All of this means that wine is one of the least popular categories to buy online. This in turn means that there is plenty of opportunity for innovative start-ups to change this.

Most people who buy wine online are from older generations, who turn to trusted websites and names. Millennials and younger generations are drinking a third of the market out in bars and restaurant, rather than at home. This perceived gap in the market has led to some companies coming up with specific apps for wine buyers.

Enhancing buyer experience

Sipp is an app that uses augmented reality (AR) to combine tools to help people understand wine as well as buy it. The app was developed by a company that wanted to use innovative tech such as voice recognition and AR. It’s still in the crowdfunding stage in terms of developing the tech necessary to provide a fully immersive experience.

This app is specifically aimed at millennials who don’t necessarily have much knowledge of the market or the wines they are drinking. Ideal Wine Company is the ideal way for knowledgeable wine buyers to shop, as well as people interested in fine wines and wine investment.

The idea behind apps like Sipp expand the buying experience into wine education. For example, consumers can scan the labels of the bottles they buy and access information concerning where it comes from, the food it goes with and its ideal serving temperature. Other apps that are focusing on wine education include Living Wine Label, which gives consumers information on the wine behind the label.

Why sommeliers are branching out into winemaking

To be a sommelier, you must love wine. They spend their working lives sniffing, tasting, testing and talking about fine wines. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that many sommeliers are expanding into winemaking.

It’s not easy to turn the dream of winemaking into reality, and many rely on networking, a deep understanding of their craft and the ability to communicate with the people who matter. Provenance in dining has become very important over the last decade, with most chefs happy and willing to discuss where their dishes originated from. This is spreading to sommeliers too, offering benefits for diners, sommeliers and restaurant owners.

Winemaking as a business

Sommeliers wanting to make their own product often find the most realistic way is to team up with a winemaker. Many rent spaces in cellars from established winemakers, in order to balance it with their day job. For example, a sommelier called Jack Lewens is now co-owner of a Michelin starred ‘small plates’ restaurant in Shoreditch.

In the summer of 2018, Lewens released the first wine from his own Vigneti Tardis brand. This brand was borne out of a successful collaboration with a winemaker called Bruno de Conciliis. After working as head sommelier at Hammersmith Italian for five years, Lewens and Conciliis released their first harvest in 2007. The brand has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Their joint venture found backing from plenty of well-known London names, including Michael Sager from Sager + Wilde and Jackson Boxer from Vauxhall’s Brunswick House restaurant. The 2017 vintage wines from the range have names after the days of the week, translated into Italian. This includes Tuesday or Martedi, which is a red grape blend mostly made from Aglianico grapes. Friday (Venerdi) is much lighter, with a floral scented white blend.

Understanding market needs

To succeed with winemaking, sommeliers must understand the kinds of wine that can be bottled and for sale quickly. This means red wines that need to stay in a cellar for years are out of the picture. Last year, Lewens made just 6,000 bottles, and in 2018 he upped it to 20,000 bottles.

Selling them in Paris and New York, as well as London, Lewens says: “Ramping up our production means there is more financial pressure on us to make sure we balance our books, so nailing the US market early will be key. I’ve gone in at the deep end, but it’s important that our partners have something to reward their investment quickly.”

Another sommelier who is combining winemaking with his day job is Nick Jones who works at Flavour Bastard in Soho. He first made a batch of wine in the Languedoc six years ago by leasing a tank in a friend’s garage. The first batch was an easy drinking red blend that could be bottled and sold quickly.

Most sommeliers don’t end up making wine for the money. After all, they know better than most how difficult it can be to make a profit in the industry. But it does allow them to connect with a product they’ve worked with for years in a different way.

What goes into producing a vintage wine?

When hearing experts discussing wine, you will often hear the word ‘vintage’. And while most people have some understanding of what a vintage wine is, it’s useful to know the differences that can exist between different vintages.

What is a vintage wine?

‘Vintage’ refers to the year the grapes in the wine were picked, and the product was made. However, each vintage means something different, which is why it’s an important issue for wine collectors.

The word itself comes from the French word ‘vendange’, which in turn is derived from the Latin for wine, which is ‘vinum’. In today’s wine market, most regions make different wine every year and include the year of harvest on the labels.

Vintages can vary a lot

Despite modern vine-growing and winemaking techniques can make the quality of different wines more consistent, the vintage can still hugely change the final product.

For example, the weather conditions in different regions affect the grape quality. This changes the way the final wine tastes, and so vintage is still important. There are differences in quality, price, style and longevity of different vintages from separate regions.

These differences can help you find a wine you prefer. For example, a warmer vintage will yield ripe, fruity wines, while a cool vintage will give less sweet, heavy wines.

Vintage key for collectors

While understanding vintage wine is always a good thing for the average consumer, it becomes all-important for wine collectors.

When a collector makes a buying decision, they should take into account the weather conditions. Obviously, these vary every year, and this will directly affect the wine they’re considering. It also has a huge effect on price at the expensive end of the market.

For example, a case (12 bottles) of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982 is about £40,000, but the same wine from the 1983 vintage goes for £7,500 a case.

How to choose the best vintage

If you are considering investing in wine or would just like to better understand the vintage of the bottle you are considering, Take the following steps:

  1. Research the different vintages in terms of how their climate affects the style of the wine.
  2. Consider learning how to read vintage wine charts.
  3. Find out the ‘drinking window’ for the vintage you are looking at to understand when it will be at its most expensive.

These steps will help you understand the vintage you enjoy the best, and those that are worth investing in. Understanding whether and when to resell or open old vintages is important. Most importantly, find the wines you enjoy the most.

How to start a cost-effective wine collection

Wine collecting can be competitive, and it’s often expensive. For example, when Nicholas Paris (Master of Wine from the Institute of Masters of Wine in London) presided over an auction between two Fortune 500 company executives, he witnessed the competition over a 1947 Burgundy push the price up from £6,240 to £39,000.

Paris is only the 34th American to ever be awarded the Master of Wine title, showing just how exclusive the industry can be. However, you don’t need to spend anything like the dedication, time or money on learning about wine to build a collection of good wine and enjoy the process.

Good wine collection is possible

If you’re interested in starting a wine collection without breaking the bank, here are some expert tips to get you started. As with every investment decision, a little research can go a long way.

Start by considering the region of the wine you’re looking at. Certain wines from specific regions will age better. According to Paris, this include wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Northern Rhone in France for reds. Italian red wines that do well with ageing include Amarone, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino.

White wines from France that age well include white Burgundy, white Bordeaux and Vouvray. From Germany, you should look at white Riesling for staying power.

Understand wine lifespans

Paris’s expert advice includes the fact that only 5% of wines across the world will improve in any meaningful way after five years. He says: “A lot of people purchase wines that are meant to be consumed much earlier and hold onto them for a long time. They’re not going to improve, and they certainly won’t have any value at that point.”

It’s also important to consider how much you ant to spend. Buying good wine that will age well doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money. It’s possible to find good bottles for £20 to £40, that will age well over the next decade, as long as you buy from the right regions.

Storage and packaging

Both how the wine is packaged and stored can make a big different for its longevity. Wines with a natural cork should have a longer cork, as bottles with either a synthetic or short cork don’t let the wine to age well due to the amount of air that can get in.

Screw tops are a better barrier to oxygen affecting the wine and can allow the wine to age for a number of years. Boxed wines are never meant to age, and should be consumed straight away, as they hold no value over time.

A mistake many amateur wine collectors make is not storing the wine correctly. Wines must be kept in cool, humid and dark places, and room temperature is generally too warm. Commonly used storage areas, such as cupboards or the larder, will prematurely age the wine because of the excess heat and light. You can get fairly inexpensive wine fridges that provide the right level of humidity, or a basement is a good option.

Follow these tips and you can get started on a budget-friendly good wine collection that will age well and grow in value.

French organic wine sales are set to soar over next few years

The future is looking distinctly green for French organic wines. Sales of wines from French vineyards made with exclusively organic grapes are expected to double over the next three years.

This is particularly significant, as overall wine sales are following a downward trend as consumption levels decrease.

Classes of wine

A wine industry research group from the UK, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis Group conducted the research. Organic wine is defined as that made from vineyards that no longer use chemical pesticides to protect crops against moulds and pests.

The research found that while sales from organic vineyards made up only 3.7% of the market in France in 2018, this is twice the number sold just five years ago. Around 9.3 million cases containing 12 bottles of organic wine were sold, according to IWSR. In 2012, the number was 4.6 million cases, showing how different classes of wine are becoming more popular. If the demand continues in the way projected, then sales should increase to around 17.3 million cases by 2022.

Higher prices

Organic vineyards can generally reach higher prices from consumers. In France, bottles of organically produced wine are selling at an average of 6.14 euros, which is approximately a third more expensive than a conventional bottle.

ISWR has been analysing the organic wines market since 1973 and say that they expect revenues to soon reach more than one billion euros every year in France. It’s likely that the rest of Europe will follow suit, as more people become concerned with sustainability and try to avoid chemicals in their diet.

France’s outlook reflects an increasing taste around the world for organic wine. Approximately 56 million cases were sold last year, showing an average annual growth of 14.1% since 2012. Most of these were sold in Europe, as the continent is leading the organic trend.

It’s expected that organic sales in France will continue to lead this upwards trend, with a predicted annual growth of 14% through 2022, compared with a global uptick of 9.2%.

Conventional wine sales falling

As organic wines soar in France, conventional wine sales decreased from 267 million in 2012 to 241 million last year. This doesn’t include sales of sparkling wines or champagne.

Jose Luis Hermosos, head of research at IWSR, says: “Several studies have shown that there are fewer and fewer people who drink wine twice a day, more and more who don’t drink at all, and most significantly, more occasional drinkers.”

If this consumer trend continues, then they expect demand to decrease further, with an expectation of selling 208 million cases in 2022. However, while the quantity is falling, the quality is rising. IWSR say that young people are drinking less but choosing better quality wines than the older generation, and this includes organic wines.

What makes a good wine?

In many ways, good wine is subjective. It’s all about personal taste in the end. But by finding out about the processes that go into making a great wine, it becomes easier to identify those that will suit you.

This applies whether you are a casual drinker of wine, or a collector of the finest vintages. A good foundational knowledge helps recognise a good wine – it’s that simple!

Four pillars of great wine

If we think of wine making having four distinct pillars that go into making it special, it breaks down the process. These are:

  1. High quality grapes.
  2. Skilful winemaking
  3. Long term vision
  4. Art

Put these all together, and you’re looking at a wine that can definitely be considered great. High quality ingredients and exceptional skill goes into making any great food or drink. And it’s exactly the same with wine. When we look at the most successful winemakers, they all have a long term vision regarding their brand and how they make the wine.

The third pillar is more nebulous. But it’s fair to say that there is an indefinable quality that goes with great wine that’s difficult to describe scientifically. Just as art is a personal, subjective choice, so is wine. The more you understand about the background, history and craft involved, the more sophisticated your taste will become.

What makes a good grape?

This comes down to vintage and terroir. The first encapsulates the way grape-growing is facilitated during a single vintage (ie. year’s growth). This covers every choice of the winemaker, from how they choose to manage pests, when they harvest the grapes, when and how they prune and irrigate and various soil treatments.

Terroir refers to the influence nature has on growing grapes, including soil, climate and weather. Another component that is just being recognised as scientifically important is Flora. This includes every living plant or fungi in the area, from trees, grasses and flowers to bacteria and yeasts.

What makes a successful harvest?
It’s all in the timing when it comes to harvesting wine grapes. When they’re picked, the ripening process stops. In cooler regions, winemakers need to think about the weather outlook and harvest before any heavy rains arrive. In warmer climates, mis-timing the harvest by even a few days can mean overripe wine, rather than fresh and fruity wine.

Sugar levels must be high enough before harvest commences. It’s also important that phenolic ripeness is at the correct level. This is the tannin’s condition within the seeds and skin of the grape. Grapes with fewer ripe seeds and skin will mean a bitter and astringent wine.

Some grapes naturally contain lower levels of tannin, so winemakers harvest them when they’re greener. This adds texture and acidity to a wine and is most commonly seen with Pinot Noir grapes. Others, such as Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon have higher tannin levels and should be picked when the phenolic ripeness levels are higher.

As you can see, there are many aspects for winemakers to get right to produce a good wine. Casual study of its basic components can help you choose a wine that better suits your palate.

Fine red wine for late autumn

We’ve reached that time of year between Bonfire Night and the start of Advent. In the US, there is always Thanksgiving to keep everyone going, but in the UK, we need a little extra help to bridge the gap between now and festive celebrations. If you’re finding the need for a late autumn treat, then here are a few red wines that will boost your evenings in front of the fire.

Choose a wine packed with chocolate and coffee notes, gentle spices and autumnal fruity flavours. Ideally, you want something with a mellowness that matches the misty mornings and bright, autumn colours outside.

South African red wine

A lovely choice from the Western Cape of South Africa is the Releaf Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Shiraz. It’s made from organic grapes and tastes rather like a blend from the south of France. There is also a hint of spice in the cassis and tobacco flavours, giving a harmoniously comforting finish. This is an ideal choice for a dinner party with friends or just relaxing in front of the fire.

South Australia has plenty of great choices. Try the Robert Oatley McLaren Vale Signature Shiraz 2015, which is subtler than the usual Antipodean red. It’s still rich, but not too rich and has a balance of mocha and dark fruit flavours. It’s great with a Mediterranean style dish or just swirled by itself after dinner.

Perfect autumn grape

A grape that suits autumn perfectly is the carmenere. This produces wines packed full of velvety smooth, subtle but present, hints of coffee, berries, plum and chocolate. The best examples hail from Chile, such as the Seleccion Privado Zapallares Gran Reserva, 2016. This has some oaky ageing flavour, some spice and is ideal for the dinner table.

Heading back to Europe, the primitivo grape from Apulia in southern Italy is a good bet. Il Pumo Primitivo Salento San Marzano 2017 is a lovely choice, with its profile of peppery baked fruits. The western and southern regions of France also offer good choices at decent prices. Try the Domaine de Serame Merlot Pays D’oc 2016 from the Languedoc region, with its juicy red fruity profile.

Whichever you decide to try, enjoy the peaceful autumn evenings before you need to start shopping for more expensive, festive wines for the Christmas period!