Amidst the perennial forecasts and ceaseless trend-spotting that seems to saturate this time of year, here is my humble contribution: a 2020 vision of wine… the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and how to meet both with a raised glass and a wink.
HERE’S TO GOOD HEALTH
Gone are the days of excess and over-indulgence being seen as aspirational. In their place, people are opting to enjoy the good things in life, in moderation, with one eye on the moment and the other on their long-term health. That’s why we’ll be seeing the ongoing rise of lighter styles of wine the world over this decade. I suspect wines won’t just be getting lower in alcohol percentages, but in sulphur levels too, ensuring one can enjoy a glass or two over a meal without regretting it the next day (or decade).
In addition to the wine itself getting lighter, the winemakers’ and producers’ carbon footprints should start to lighten too. As more and more consumers search out wineries that are farming sustainably, and with the environment in mind, expect lighter glass bottles, more eco-friendly packaging and greater attention to sourcing local bottles, bottling at source and shipping in bulk.
A SENSE OF PLACE FOR SA WINES
Around the world, most of the greatest wines are rooted in regionality. When you think of France, you think of Champagne, Burgundy or Bordeaux; with New Zealand it’s sauvignon blanc. But what about our wine regions? Although our backyard is teeming with world-class wines, I wonder if a lack of regional identity and focus has played a part in ensuring our wines are still under-celebrated and somewhat misunderstood in the international arena. Not for very much longer, though. Thanks to projects like the Regional Series, and a growing demand from discerning wine drinkers for regional knock-outs, I suspect the Cape wine region’s best days are just around the corner.
TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT CHENIN
Chenin blanc’s time has come. Of course, it’s been on the scene forever but, with our ideal conditions for growing incredible chenin blanc, its time in the spotlight is well-deserved and overdue. One of the best things about chenin is its extraordinary range – from fresh and fruity to complex and barrel-fermented, the chenins SA is producing are as diverse as the people who drink them. (Look out for our Regional Chenin coming later this year.)
MORE WINE ONLINE
From augmented wine labels to innovative rating apps, I suspect there are still barrels of new opportunities on the digital horizon. As more South Africans become comfortable with buying online, I foresee online wine shopping taking a larger slice of the retail pie. After all, buying online offers all the convenience and choice, with far less of the stress.
Although increasing numbers of people are buying wine online, the digital world can never replace our need for human connection and for the tactile, sensory-rich experience of swirling a glass of real wine, smelling its aromas and sipping on its secrets. That’s why I still believe there’ll always be a demand for inspiring wine events and communities, like wine clubs.
HIGHER PRICES, BETTER QUALITY
Calm down and hold onto your corkscrews, in a country as abundant as ours, I’m confident we will always be able to get wine at good prices but our top-tier wines are still under-priced. It’s only a matter of time before our sought-after premium wines’ price tags adjust to reflect their quality and demand. Rest assured, though, everyday drinking wine will still be at hand for a long time yet.
Now that’s something to toast to!