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Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Three Wine Events That Won't Occur in 2015!

Instead of boringly predicting what will happen in wine in 2015, Wink Lorch prefers to think about what definitely won't happen.
Over my years in the world of wine I've read my share of New Year forecasts. But some of these predictions keep going around and around like odd socks in the laundry and never seem to actually wash out, or should that be spin?

Here is my forecast for wine events that will surely not occur this year.

Riesling will become insanely popular (again)
Once upon a time in the 19th Century, German wines – inevitably made from Riesling – were more popular and more expensive than top red Bordeaux. As wine drinking became more democratic, German wines became popular in a huge way in the 1960s and '70s. By the mid-'80s the German wine crash came on the back of an Austrian wine scandal and none of it had anything to do with Riesling. Instead, it concerned cheap, medium-sweet wines made from all sorts of ignoble grapes. But Riesling became tarnished and banished to lie only in the cellars of the wine aristocracy or real wine nerds, even before that term had been invented.
As top German producers pulled their socks up, they garnered a host of allies, from specialist wine importers to top wine writers like Jancis Robinson in the U.K. and David Schildknecht in the U.S. They inspired plenty of colleagues and I swear that New Year forecasts from 1995 onwards – that's 20 years, folks – have insisted that Riesling will have its day of glory again. Has it? No. Will it? No. It's simply a myth that wine drinkers will shun something more simplistic like buttery Chardonnay, pungent Sauvignon Blanc or bland Pinot Grigio for the ultimate in white-wine complexity, kerosene flavors included.
Let's just admit it, and thank heavens for the fact that it keeps Riesling producers ever striving for higher quality rather than higher prices.

The 100-point scale will cease to matter
A generation ago, wines were judged using extraordinarily banal criteria like flavor, complexity, balance and length. Armed with this information – and the price, of course – wine buyers for stores and restaurants would decide to buy a wine. Customers, in their turn, bought the wines on the recommendations of the shops and restaurants; oh yes, and on the basis of price naturellement.
As time went on a few journalists and writers thought their readers might like a star rating for choosing wines. And when wine competitions emerged, either on the back of these same magazines or sometimes part of agricultural shows, organizers realized they needed to score wines out of 10 or 20 in order to know which ones deserved the medals and trophies. Then the 100-point scale came into being, originally in the U.S. It was introduced by a very famous wine magazine and at a similar time by the one who was to become A Very Important Wine Critic. The 100-point system might have been mocked by those who loved writing tasting notes, but to most stores and wine drinkers, it was a life saver, a way to choose wines graded just like their schoolwork had been. It was easy to understand and it was familiar; what more could anyone ask for?
Yet, most oddly, for the past decade at least, every New Year other self-styled Very Important Wine Critics have predicted the demise of the 100-point scale. They say that wine drinkers are becoming more sophisticated at the top end, wanting to choose by descriptors, and that all that matters at the bottom end is price. They even dare criticize the scale that so many love, saying that it isn't 100 points at all but 20 points since anything below 80 doesn't count.
What nonsense is this – for most wine drinkers willing to shell out a decent amount of greenbacks on a bottle, the ease of choosing by points is always going to win over buying a wine based on reported aromas of blueberries, violets, old shoe leather or hot buttered toast. Point-scoring will stay, I say.

Arguments about the merits of natural, organic and biodynamic wines will be rational and courteous. Yeah, right.
Arguments about the merits of natural, organic and biodynamic wines will be rational and courteous. Yeah, right.

The squabbling about organic, biodynamic and natural wines will stop
Another fact of the wine world over the past couple of decades is that it has become necessarily greener. But a disproportionate amount of column inches – or perhaps that's megabytes in the Internet world – have been spent on writing about both the merits and the downside of wines made from organically farmed grapes, picked according to the phases of the moon or made with – shock, horror – no additives, rather than actual production or sales volumes.
On the one side there are those who say the consumer cares deeply about these things and on the other are those who believe the average wine drinker doesn't give a stuff. Then there is the irrefutable fact that, in most wine-producing countries, wine producers are far greener than they were 20 years ago – fewer harmful pesticides are used in vineyards (mainly because the worst are banned) and far fewer additives are used, with smaller doses even of sulfur than ever before, especially at the top end of wine.
But, over the past few years, this subject has brought out the worst in some working in the wine trade and indeed the wine media; they've almost come to blows over it. In the past couple of New Year prediction lists, sane voices have said that the debate over organic, biodynamic and especially natural wines, will become calm and reasoned as more and more producers take up these methods. But, they've been wrong – entirely wrong – and anyone who predicts the heated arguments will stop is living in dreamland.
The human race loves a good argument especially if people can feel virtuous and good about holding what they perceive to be the moral high ground. And that moral wine high ground can exist on both sides of the organic and natural versus wine quality debate. Trust me, the punches will continue to fly in 2015.

Source: http://www.wine-searcher.com/