Wine Trends for 2018
Over the coming weeks, Toby will be revealing his hot wine trends for 2018 on our blog. First he charts the effervescent growth of sparkling wine: from grower producer Champagne to a very promising region in northern Italy, not to mention the best of England
There is a quiet revolution bubbling under in the world of sparkling wine. Small producers are the toast of the day! Wine lovers around Scotland would appear to be rebelling against the once seemingly unstoppable tide of the big Prosecco producers and famous brand Champagnes. Smaller grower producers, such as our UK exclusive, Charles Orban, offering much better value are appearing more and more on the wine lists of restaurants and bars in the know.
A family-owned grower-producer Champagne with a long history, Orban is a 331-hectare château and vineyard based in the Marne Valley of Champagne. The Orban family has its roots in growing grapes and the house was founded in the 1950s after Charles Orban left the local growers’ co-operative to set up on his own. A decade or so later he started to produce his own wines, starting at 800 bottles per year and now producing 200,000 bottles. Charles Orban is now owned by the Rapeneau family, specialists in the wine trade since the 19th Century.
And away from Champagne it is a similar picture. Franciacorta in Italy has erupted onto the UK wine scene with its amazing luxury fizz, and our new UK agency Ugo Vezzoli (a tiny winery with everything hand-crafted by father and son) offers magnificent wines from this up-and-coming region.
In 1989 Gian Lorenzo Vezzoli decided to start the production of Franciacorta wine on his own and founded a new winery which he named after his younger son, Ugo. Ever since, Ugo Vezzoli has constantly strived to optimise the balance between the production level of its five-acre vineyard and the high quality of its wine, of which they now make around 30,000 bottles every year. True to his winemaking philosophy, Gian Lorenzo has always favoured quality over quantity, that is why every single step of the production process is still rigorously done by hand from the careful harvest of the grapes to the disgorgement and bottling. The winery is located in the ancient estate of the Vezzoli family and is well worth the visit; the garden features beautiful magnolia trees, which were planted in the 19th century.
England is another area producing serious sparklers to rival our French neighbours. Our Scottish agency Exton Park is picking up gold medals with their great wines, which interestingly (and uniquely for England) do not undergo malelactic fermentation, just like Krug.
In South Africa the locals there have been drinking Methode Cap Classique (MCC) for years but until recently largely kept it for themselves. MCC is a traditional-method sparkling wine with the second fermentation in the bottle (as happens with Champagne) and our multi-award-winning UK agency Saronsberg has just released one that offers stunning value and great quality – just ask our customers who visited the winery last year and begged us to import it into the UK!
Finally, we have been getting a few requests for a lower-alcohol wine that doesn’t taste like a chemistry experiment gone wrong and Pescador from Castillo Perelada really fits the bill. At 11% this lightly sparkling wine, which is a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, is fresh, fruity and will be perfect for the fast-approaching summer season either on its own or with fish or seafood.