There is always something going on in what is one of the oldest arts on earth and there are certainly some interesting things are happening in the world of wine right now.
In the US – more specifically California we hear that according to market demand and consumer preferences, wines are trending towards sweet and strong in a slightly worrying way. The use of over ripe grapes coupled with a slightly under hand technique whereby wines have water added to the unfermented juice of overripe or “dark roasted” grapes to manipulate the alcohol levels they can then claim on the bottle.
The results are wines labelled at an already near fortified wine alcohol level of 14-15% but which can actually be even higher. The resulting sweetness and “big fruit” has been found to have great appeal to US wine drinkers although many critics are disturbed by this trend.
With a market the size of the USA it’s hardly surprising that many winemakers will give the customer what they want – as witnessed by the Californian Merlot and Zinfandel “blush” wine sensations of the past. It’s good to hear however that there are a number of new producers across the pond who are resisting the trend and are concentrating on making superb Pinot Noir and Syrah wines at a more classic 12% by volume.
The hope is that these guys along with the long established Californian 12%ers like Au Bon Climat will lead the states out of this dark roasted period into a trend more towards fine, nuanced wine that wine lovers can appreciate without falling down after a couple of glasses !
On the other side of the world 28 year old Shi has become the latest Chinese business man to snap up a parcel of land in Bordeaux – an area traditionally extremely protective of it’s wines and where foreign owner have till recently been rare.
The rise and apparent rise of Chinese wine has been happening for a while now and never fails to be attention grabbing. Chinese tastes have always leaned towards white wine and in the business world – expensive vintage champagnes. Recent surveys however are pointing towards a shift to Red as the favourite tipple.
The makers of Bordeaux were in fact shocked once again when Jia Bei Lan cabernet dry red 2009 wine picked up the international trophy for Best Bordeaux Varietal over £10 at the Decanter World Wine Awards. I’d imagine that China is probably not an area that producers in France, particularly Bordeaux would have expected to ever seen as the competition!