Is The Party Nearly Over?

February 14, 2020

For the last two decades wine consumption has been growing in most parts of the world, except the “Old World” wine countries – mainly France and to a lesser extent Italy and Spain, where the younger generation has shied away (to some extent) of the “old folks” drink called wine. It is like here in Australia where in the 1980s we shied away from Sherry and Brandy because that’s what the oldies drank.

There are a number of signs that wine consumption is on the “downer” in total. The first sign was that there has been a considerable reduction of wine imports to China in 2019. The French lost top spot to us and had double digit reductions in volumes. We were patting ourselves on the back because our dollar value went up as the volumes decreased, which is great because it means that the Chinese are drinking better wine BUT they are still drinking less wine!! You have to remember that the vast majority of wine consumed in the world is what we call “commercial” wine and if there are less people drinking less of this, then we have less chances of persuading them (over time) to trade up to our more premium wines. So in the long run we will be selling less wine. Not a problem today but how will it be in three, five or ten years’ time?

Brexit will cause the Poms to drink less wine – more of their own but less overall as imports especially from Europe (which was most of the wine they drink) will become more expensive. Added to this are the insane tariffs that Trump is threatening to charge on most European wine and things start looking less rosy.

Then recently I saw in an article in The Drinks Business that for the first time in 25 years US wine consumption fell. The largest wine market currently in the world dropped nearly 1% in wine sales value, which is not good but at the same time beer and spirits sales rose by 3.0% in value. That is, people are starting to move away from wine. The main reason for the decline is that more people are now considering wine as a ‘more infrequent beverage’ rather than reducing their overall alcohol consumption.

In India (a country that should have massive wine potential) the government has cancelled the licences of a considerable number of sales outlets and show no sign of reducing the 148% import duty. The impact is more severe on the Indian wineries than on imported wines, but nevertheless it will/is stopping growth.

So in my opinion, when you add all this together along with other similar factors, the global wine industry needs to work very hard together to stop the decline and create new consumers. It seems that the millennials to a large extent have not embraced wine, so unless we want to end up like Brandy (try to sell more and more to less and less people) we need to “pull our finger out” and get creative and dynamic.

We need to embrace things like Organic wine, Biodynamic wine, Orange wine, Petnat, Natural wines, Emerging Varieties and other things that will catch the eye/ear of the younger folk and get them to engage with wine, providing of course that the resultant wine is of good quality.

This Week's Wine Review:

Lagrein is an Italian native variety that comes from the Trentino/Alto Adige region of Northern Italy, where it produces deeply coloured, tightly flavoured, delightful wines that need some time to evolve and open up to show at their very best. They have been described by famous wine critics as being – tannic, with sour plums, herbaceous, earthy with bitter cherries and some chocolate.

Since its arrival here in Australia, 40 growers (thus far) have taken this variety on and either produce it as a straight varietal wine or use it as a booster in other varieties which can be a bit insipid in hot vintages.

With the extra sunshine that Australian regions get over that of its native Trentino/Alto Adige, our Lagrein are a bit less acidic with a greater degree/depth of ripeness and richness of flavour than the Italian ones.

I have recently written an article on Lagrein (see WBM magazine, “Here Comes Lagrein Again”, Nov-Dec 2019 issue) in which I mentioned the excellent 2016 and 2017 Lagrein from Langhorne Creek’s, Hofer Family Wines. Today I am writing about their new release the, Hofer 2018 Langhorne Creek Lagrein.

This is a cracker wine with great deep inky colour, almost black. It has a vibrant bouquet with deep red berry aromas, quite complex, very appealing and with a dash of earthiness. The palate is gorgeous, rich, round, amply flavoured with a tight, grippy finish that makes it a great food wine now. It will soften off and round out to become a great standalone drink in 3-5 years’ time – if you have the patience! Otherwise decant it and enjoy it now.

I can thoroughly recommend this wine, along with the 2018 Hofer Barbera and Montepulciano that I also tasted recently.

Do your palate and wallet a favour and check these fabulous, value for money wines out for yourself, especially the Lagrein, by visiting www.hoferfamilywines.com.au

Cheers and enjoy great wines this week - especially Aussie ones!