The top wine trends for 2018

Roland Peens, director of Wine Cellar, shares his five top wine trends and predictions for 2018

Rosé is popular

Rosé could not be trendier and the growth of the Premium Rosé category continues around the world. It has however taken some time in South Africa as we have had to shake off the semi-sweet, poor quality, bright pink image. Rosé can be a by-product of red wine making, in order to make reds more concentrated. It can also be a blend of leftover red and white wines. Rosé wines can offer the freshness of fine white as well as the depth of a light red. The South of France is famous for its Rosé from Bandol and Provence, some of which can age for decades. Serious Rosé is gaining popularity in South Africa and more producers are figuring out how to produce and market exciting wines.

*Try Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rosé 2016 from L’Ormarins (R310) – it’s a blend of various varieties including a large Cinsaut component from the Swartland. Light salmon in colour, there is lovely depth of florals, citrus, and a savoury and textured finish.

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Sauvignon Blanc is back

Sauvignon Blanc has been hurdled by Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc as the leading white varieties over the last decade. Usually offering a crisp acidity, tropical flavours as well as green pepper notes, South African Sauvignon Blanc can be rather watery, offering less excitement than other varieties. But, older vines, lower yields and more authentic winemaking can make for serious, long aging versions. What’s more, 2017 is quickly being regarded as the best vintage of Sauvignon Blanc in the last decade.

*Try Bloemendal Suider Terras Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – arguably SA’s best, produced from a 35-year-old heritage block, high up in Durbanville. It’s powerful, richly textured and has the structure to age a decade or even two. At R500 is also SA’s most expensive.

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Drought will affect prices

Three years of drought in the Western Cape is going to severely impact yields in 2018 as water quotas are slashed and the vines struggle to keep up production. This will not only decrease volumes but also push up costs in years to come. Expect entry-level wines to become more expensive as stocks are diminished and the drought continues. Economically and politically this is a major concern as large volume wineries operate at marginal profitability levels.

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Buy the great vintages En-Primeur

As entry-level wines will be affected by the drought, the country’s premium wines will also be affected, but in a different way. Lower yields and smaller berries make for more concentrated and perhaps better quality wines. Farming and production costs will however continue to push South Africa’s premium wines up faster than inflation. With relatively small volumes for South Africa’s top wines, especially gaining huge international following, demand will be bigger than supply. The model of ‘En-primeur’ or buying pre-release, will become more popular for the highly demanded, great vintages. Buying pre-release not only allows you to secure your purchase early, but also speculate on the price if you think it may appreciate on release.

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Shop wine online

South Africa is still behind in online retail with mature markets like the US or UK buying five times more of all goods online than us. As the Internet gets faster, transactions more secure and ecommerce more efficient, expect to buy more of your wine online. It is great to peruse the bottles on a shelf, but expect lower prices online, more information, no lugging of heavy wine boxes, shopping in your pyjamas and of course, no parking issues.