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Wine in 2020: What to look out for

Predicting the future is a tough business, but here are some things to look out for in the wine world in 2020, from specific wine trends to bigger issues affecting the market.

Prosecco rosé on the cards?

This fusion of two big trends could become official in 2020, following a lengthy approval process in Italy.

UK supplier Bibendum predicted in its own 2020 trends report that the first bottles could be hitting the market before the end of the year.

Producers would be able to use up to 15% of Pinot Noir alongside Glera grapes in order to make rosé under the Prosecco DOC name.

Styles on the rise: From appassimento to vegan

Expect rosé to continue to gain more plaudits generally as a ‘serious’ wine. Moët Hennessy’s deal to buy control of Château d’Esclans, maker of Whispering Angel, should bring more exposure to higher-end rosés.

Majestic Wine in the UK said recently that sales of ‘appassimento’ wines from Italy had nearly doubled and were taking share from easy-drinking Malbec wines.

It also pointed to a resurgence in popularity of oaked Chardonnay wines, which is an interesting counter-point to efforts by many winemakers to reduce overbearing oak influence on wines in recent years.

Both Majestic and major UK supplier Bibendum have highlighted Austrian wines as a potential dark horse of the market.

‘Austria may be best-known for its Grüner Veltliner, but other indigenous grapes, like Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt and Saint Laurent, as well as Austrian Sparkling, are starting to gain in popularity,’ said Bibendum in a report on drinks trends for 2020.

You should also expect to see more vegan stickers on bottle labels and retailer websites in 2020. For example, Majestic said in November 2019 that it stocked 200 wines listed as vegan, versus 39 a year earlier.

Look out for natural wines on a list near you

It’s hard to get figures on this, not least because so-called ‘natural wines’ don’t have an official definition.

You could argue that natural wines have already gone mainstream following UK retailer Aldi listing a skin-contact ‘orange wine’ with no added sulphites.

This part of the wine world still divides opinion like no other and remains a niche in the overall scheme of things, but it is gaining exposure.

You could see the ‘natural’ and ‘low intervention’ monikers being used more often on restaurants lists and in retailers in 2020.

Fine wine market doubt

One of the biggest fine wine trends of the 2010s was Bordeaux’s reduced influence on the secondary market as collectors sought bottles from a broader array of regions.

However, Bordeaux remains a big part of the story and it was partly weaker trading for some of the area’s top wines that has led Liv-ex to report declines on its core indices in recent months. Several analysts believe the fine wine market outlook is gloomier in January 2020 than a year earlier.

Miles Davis, of Wine Owners, recently told Decanter.com, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a gentle slide on the market.’ He said that this could be around 1% per month in the short-term.

Factors that might affect this include en primeur campaigns for Burgundy 2018 and Bordeaux 2019, set for January and April-to-June respectively.

Collectors should also look out for a re-assessment of Bordeaux 2010, as the 10-year-anniversary approaches of this lauded vintage.

Tariffs and trade tussles

This is closely connected to the above, but also affects people’s access to wine more generally.

Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and EU could lead to more currency swings, and a no-deal situation may be back on the table if the two sides cannot agree fresh trading arrangements.

In the year of a presidential election, how will US president Donald Trump and his administration approach tariffs?

Should recent US tariffs on wine – and the threat of further increases – be seen as short-term sabre-rattling or part of a longer-term realignment of US trade policy? And will we see retaliation from the EU if no settlement can be reached?

US trade officials have set January deadlines for comments on raising tariffs on a range of EU wines, from Champagne to Barolo.

Climate change and wine

It’s not a new issue, of course, but there has been a sense of fresh impetus that is likely to continue into 2020.

Spain’s Miguel Torres said in 2019 that the wine world needed to show more urgency on climate change.

The past year has seen a wealth of reports on the current signs and potential effects of climate change on wine-producing regions, and ways in which producers are looking to respond.

This is clearly a much longer-term issue, but we will likely continue to see experimentation and research in 2020, from testing new grape varieties to trialling ways of reducing resource use in the winery. 

See also: Jefford – what lies ahead for wine in 2020?

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