So what does the future hold for the world of wine? That’s a good question, and one that no person, in fact, can answer.
But, that doesn’t stop us humans from continuing to joust at windmills. So, being a member of the human race (based on my last check-up), and remembering my good friend Ed Lazarus’ sage advice — “God hates a coward” — here are the Underground Wineletter's prognostications for 2012:
1. The Chinese miracle will continue to roll on, driving up prices for selected wines that are in very limited supply. But, by the end of the year, this trend of ever-increasing prices for selected wines will be waning.
2. The Chinese market for wines will show continued signs of expanding, as more different types of wines become familiar.
3. The worldwide wine glut will continue, with falling prices for many very high priced wines. This will be driven by California wines and some classified growth Bordeaux in the triple-dollar digits.
4. World economic conditions and large production will continue to result in large numbers of inexpensive wines imported from South America and Spain, with plenty of support from France and Italy. Other countries will need to lower prices to compete in the lower price segment of the market.
5. Because of the large number of lower-priced wines (wines priced at $10 and under), wine consumers will be more adventuresome.
6. The trend toward “Affordable Drinkable Wine” (ADW) will continue. Imported rosés — especially from France and, in particular, Provence; along with Italy and Spain — will continue to gain favor.
7. This rosé trend will accelerate in California offerings, as many producers will find it economically viable to turn more and more red grapes into a “cash crop.” Prices will have to compete with the large supply of imports that are generally priced in a range of $10-$30.
8. The trend to ADW will continue to spread in California and include more chardonnays and cabernets, as well as sauvignon blancs, syrahs, merlots, and zinfandels. There will be a lot of wine in the $10-$15 range with even more in the $10-$20 range.
9. New Zealand wines — particularly sauvignon blancs — will gain appeal as a result of their compatibility with lighter foods and competitive pricing.
10. The trends of less oak and less alcohol will continue. This will be particularly noticeable in California wines as time goes on.