What are the wine trends for 2017? I am looking to these top ten.
1) Natural wine noise settles down
The non-stop stories about this new natural wine will finally slow down as the world realizes this is not fad, but just a return to sensibility. In the end, what good wine is will get redefined and we can get back to the business at hand, drinking.
2) More conventional winemakers will actively seek to crash into the natural wine world
Gatekeepers like Isabelle Légeron, and The Feiring Line will prove essential to keep the interlopers at bay. This means you, who cross-flow filter your wines and grow with systemics and can't quite understand why your wines are not considered natural when there are such fine marketing opportunities you could take advantage of, if only they'd let you in. Just when I thought it was getting easier, the role of wine cop will be more intense.
3) Wine writers, critics and tasters will speak up (about mouse taint and other wine flaws)
Some of our most beloved winemakers wine's been thus afflicted with mouse taint. This is the kombuchu-like, gassy retronasal smell that messes with a wine's finish.
Over the years there has been a collusion of protection, much like when a good friend has bad breath; i noted, moved away from but rarely mentioned. In 2017--at least when talking of wine--this avoidance will stop. The discussion will be broached, and discussion is essential. Skilled winemakers are stymied, why does this happen. I even experienced it on the not hard core natural, Terroir al Limit rosé. Is it about wine in the bottle too quickly? Is it about something going screwy in malo? Too warm in the winery? Is it true that a little S02 squelches the problem or that give it some time it will resolve? (I had a three-part series on this issue over at TFLN) New drinkers will understand that this isn't merely a sign of it's natural so it's good, but that it is can be indeed be a sign of natural yet is a most unpleasant problem.
4) The new collector will start putting out the bucks for natural Burgundy
The well-heeled collector was used to going bargain hunting in the Loire for slumming but stayed conservative when buying Burgundy. But that price barrier will be breached in 2017. This isi when outlier Burgundy gets respect. Collectors will spread their reach from Fred Mugnier to let's say, Jean Yves Bizot. They will not only stock up on Jean Marc Roulot but they'll stock Pierre Fenals. As this new drinker armed with credit cards and an increasing curiosity, develops tasting chops and is ready to explore the holy terroir and will finally pay the three-digit price tag for it.
5) Reconsidering the vats
As winemakers look for the most stable and least interfering container for fermentation, stainless will continue to lose as will oak. Interest in cement and especially clay grow into preferred essential fermentation vessels. What is unclear is what the oak industry do to fight back.
6) What we will drink
More Georgian, Slovakian/Moravian wine, natural Chiléan and Austrian will be the big splash. Grapes that will rise this year? Look out for aligoté a grape that is superb but for years disrespected, makes a comeback. The Pet' Nat craze will saturate the market one more year before pulling back. Rosé stays strong.
7) Biggest Burgundy story?
Survival. With 2016 being one of the most devastating with frost and hail decimating crops and offering yet another miniscule vintage, winemakers are doing what they need to do. Look to gamay from the Loire and syrah from the Rhone and even carignan from the southwest being made in the Côte d' Or in 2016. And that means more from one of France's most sublime hi-rent district as Burgundy goes shopping for grapes elsewhere.
8) The world goes to pot
Last year when on a panel at the Grape Symposium on market disruption, the great Gilian Handelman pointed to pot as the biggest industry disrupter. We will see the beginnings of her soothsaying this year. Marijuana will impact on a certain sector of wine consumption, at the supermarket level.
9) A backlash on the vin de soifiness of carbonic maceration
While there will always be a place for the wines that are easy to drink without food, a respect, admiration and demand will be on the rise for wines with backbone and spine, as well as those who commit to allowing wine to take its time.
10) Cider and other wild fermentations
Wines that come from other sources than grape will make a break for the wine list. This means you, mead and autumn olive.
What's the big wine takeaway? In 2017, wine boundaries break down. There's an increase of interest in the exciting, no matter where they come from.