From dry Rosé to young reds and alternate varietals, Your Hunter Valley Magazine rounds up the wine styles and trends that will define this year.
Much like fashion, food and music, wine styles can define an era. Styles are in favour, then out again. In the 80’s and 90’s, we were drinking big, buttery and oaky Chardonnay and lighter Cabernets. That was until tastes turned towards lighter wines such as Pinot Grigio and the crisp cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc. It also seemed like just a few years ago that we were drinking Chardonnay-Semillon blends and fortifeds were all the rage.
What is clear, is that there has never been a better time to be a lover of wine – there are more styles, more options, and more opportunities to explore wine than ever before. So, what are the wine styles to watch in 2020?
IT’S ALL SPARKLES
Everywhere you look, sparkling wine sales are growing and who doesn’t love a bit of fizzle – especially high-quality Champagne and sparkling wines? It all points to consumers drinking less, but better and it seems we love different styles of fizz and especially that from other parts of the world with Champagne sales achieving double-digit growth since 2016. Even Cava, which lags far behind Champagne and Prosecco in terms of sales, is having a resurgence. Australian sparkling wines are also extremely popular, and the Hunter Valley has some top drops to compare with the best.
The world remains hopelessly in love with Rosé with sales of high-quality pale Rosé wines soaring over the past few years – and that trend will continue with this quintessential summer wine being perfect for the outdoor Australian lifestyle.
Wine drinklers can expect to see more Rosé wines from Australian producers, and an increasing number of imports from Europe – Provence and other regions in the south of France as well as Spain and Portugal.
VARIETAL REVIVAL – A WORLD OF CHOICE
The wine scene has changed significantly over the past decade with wine lovers eagerly searching for something new and are increasingly drinking wines made from different countries and alternative grape varietals, in particularly the Italian and Spanish varieties that tend to suit Australia’s warmer climate regions.
While the varieties of Negroamaro, Barbera, Montepulciano, Fiano, Nero d’Avola, Nebbiolo and even Grenache are hardly unknown varieties in Australia, the term 'alternative variety' encapsulates those varieties that stand outside the mainstream and are not widely planted.
Never before has there been so much choice when it comes to wine styles, grape varieties, even countries from where wines are being imported. This is of course great news for the consumer, and much of it is due to a new wave of sommeliers and winemakers who are keen to let drinkers have a crack at new styles from new countries.
A growing number of Hunter Valley wineries have adopted some alternative varieties that include Grenache, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Durif, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Tannat, Petit Verdot and Chambourcin amongst the reds and Vermentino, Savignin, Fiano, Pinot Gris/Grigio and Viognier amongst the whites – and with fantastic results. Over the next few years, you can expect many of these wines to become increasingly known and popular with wine drinkers and close the gap on some of the mainstream varieties.
LIGHTER BRIGHTER REDS
Long gone are the days when you needed to cellar red wine for years before it was ready to be drunk. Now we want our reds medium-bodied, full of freshness and fruit driven – wines made from grapes such as Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and lighter interpretations of the traditionally fuller bodied varieties like Shiraz. Pinot Noir is one of the fastest growing varieties in the red wine category in Australia.
LOWER ALCOHOL WINES
Low alcohol has been one of the biggest talking points in the beverage industry for the past two years and the beer industry in Australia has been a pioneer in introducing mid-strength and lower-alcohol varieties. New Zealand wine industry's push to build a new 'lighter wines' segment – with alcohol content 30 per cent below traditional levels – is gaining traction with Australian consumers. Baby Boomers, health-conscious youngsters and moderate drinking professionals are behind the rising popularity of lower-alcohol wines.
ORGANIC, VEGAN, NATURAL AND SUSTAINABLE
Consumer interest in wines that are certified organic, vegan friendly, biodynamic, preservative free or carbon neutral is continuing to grow as consumers increasingly turn to wines that reflect their raising consciousness – drinking more sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines from winemakers who have embraced these values in their winemaking philosophies.
Expect to see retailers having separate shelves reserved for these wines and restaurant and bar wine lists devoting a section to organic, biodynamic and even 'vegan friendly' wines – balancing their offerings with traditional wines.