Wine Trends 2017

A year back, I did a post about 2016 wine trends and predicted the following: Orange wine overtaking rosé; Urban wineries gaining attention (attention yes, volume no), and Coravin making rare wines by the glass more affordable. Was I right? I am not sure. Perhaps it is just me that has had my eyes open for these things, but I feel that all predictions have walked with me through the whole year. But past is the past and I think it is interesting to look at what is going to be big this year. So, I went wild on google and collected a few trends that I think I will at least be following in 2017.

The rise of sparkling red

This fall I wrote about my new-found curiosity for sparkling red wines. I have never been a fan of Lambrusco, and perhaps never will be, but suddenly many restaurants I visited had lovely, light sparkling reds from France (Loire) and Germany on the menu as aperitifs. This happened in restaurants in several countries (Finland and Spain), so it is not just a regional phenomena. Thus, I predict sparkling reds to be hot hot hot in 2017. There has also been some noise about Loire rising up as the trendy region of the year, so this could add up to a perfect combination.

The year of Portugal? – Focus on lesser known grape varieties

Me and M have been fans of Portugal for many years now. In 2015 M did a road trip, driving from Porto all the way down to Beira Interior and back. Regions like Dão are still relatively unknown to the masses, however, the average consumers have started drifting beyond their Merlots and Sauvignon Blancs, and are now interested in varieties such as Verdejo and Alvarinho. Portugal is especially interesting for its field blends from pre-phylloxeira vineyards. There might be something like 50 different varieties growing in those fields, and the wines that are born from them are interesting. So, perhaps it is finally the year of Portugal. Time to boost up the sales!

Movement of wine – exchange rates and barriers to trade

2016 was a significant year in global politics. I will not contribute my opinion to that discussion, at least not on the blog (especially not on the blog), but what is interesting from a wine-perspective is how will everything that has happened impact the movements of wine? I am more thinking of exchange rates and barriers to trade. I am already now distancing myself from US wines due to the strong dollar (and weak Swedish krona), and keeping to the old world, that is close and still moving freely within the EU. Brexit has not yet happened (I mean the concrete separation…the divorce has just been declared), but I wonder what will happen to the now thriving UK wine market? Will the rise of English sparkling come to a halt due to uncertainty? All in all, these things are hard to predict (I would be a millionaire if I could), but, my best guess is that people will be looking increasingly closer to home for good wines. Loire, I think, will be one of the areas I will be obsessing about in 2017.

xx Soile

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Field Blend Friday

This Friday, I thought I would write a bit about field blends. Field blends are wines from vineyards with more than one grape variety planted together in the same block. Some field blends might have over 50 different grape varieties planted in a mosaik-like pattern and the winemaker might even be unaware what all of the varietals are. Sounds daunting? Well I actually love (most) field blends. Even with many different “ingredients” they blend together to characterize the terroir; the climate, soil and surrounding fauna.

In the past, before the time of varietal purism, different varieties weren’t always planted separately in distinct blocks as they often are today. Growers used this as a relatively inexpensive way to blend wine and planted their vineyards as a “field blend” of different grapes that they figured would combine to make a good wine. The growers would often pick all of the grapes at the same time, even if they weren’t equally ripe, and pour them into the same vat to ferment together — a technique called co-fermentation.

Filed blends can be found for example in the Douro valley in Portugal
Filed blends can be found for example in the Douro valley in Portugal
Initially co-fermentation may have been popular because it was easier and less expensive. It required less equipment, from big fermentation vats to barrels. Co-fermentation might seem old-fashioned, but some contemporary winemakers believe that combining different grapes during fermentation can produce wines that are better integrated, more seamless and perhaps more aromatic — a true field blend is whatever Nature gives that vintage.

Most of today’s field blends are from these old vineyards of post-Gold Rush America or the ones that survived the European wine plague of 1948, making them interesting from both a historical and quality perspective. Many winemakers also believe in the superiority of old vines. Initially field blending may have been perceived as a budget way of making wine, however, today co-fermented wines made from those old field-blend vineyards still produce some of the worlds most sought-after wines.

The Winecurious also has some great field blends in the selection. Our Portuguese producer Quinta do Escudial make an Old Vines edition from their family vineyards in the Dao region. The wine is a combination of over 30 different varietals. Also, Antonio Madeira, a producer who makes just one (perfect) red, uses a field blend of around 20 different varietals. Both wines are aromatic and earthy with red fruits and herbal character.

So don’t be daunted by field blends, give them a try. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you will at least have an interesting ride!