The 2017 Wine Predictions in review
It’s one thing in wine to shoot your mouth off at the beginning of the year about what you believe will come to be in the next 12 months. In reality, it’s a crapshoot as countless things can go sideways on you like, who would have predicted the fires in Napa Valley last fall? But I have yet to see anyone take off their warm little booties and hold their feet to the fire to see how much they got wrong and how much they got right. Obviously, it’s far easier to just move on to the next year and pretend like the last one didn’t happen. Politically, I’d love for that to be the case, but reality is far different.
So, in the tradition of technology reporter, Robert X. Cringely, let’s not put that final brick in the wall of 2017 just yet and see how well I did prior to shooting my mouth off again about 2018.
Champagne is in trouble
This probably still seems outlandish to people but I’m fully confident that 2017 was the year we saw cracks in the money machine that is “Champagne”. This article has a lot of jest and outlandishness in it and countless people in the wine trade got very huffy about it. Why? No one believes that Champagne will ever go down but I’m sure the same was said about Sherry at one point. Nothing lasts forever and there are many, many regions that are producing great bubbly if that’s what a consumer is looking for. Yes, the Champagne brand is amazing but there’s a reason Prosecco outsold Champagne 10 to 1 last year: it’s just too damned expensive and exclusive.
Crémants, Cavas de Paratge & English Bubbles all go booyah
This was tied in to the issues surrounding Champagne. Jon Bonne wrote a prediction column at Punch saying that 2018 will be the year that English Sparkling Wine gets well known which is wrong. That was 2017 with countless articles touting it with scores to match. The Crémant market perhaps didn’t see as much attention as I would have thought but overall, people are looking to other sources for their bubbly as Champagne doesn’t provide value and at an average price of $11.57 per bottle for sparkling wine in the US currently, that certainly isn’t Champagne territory with an average price of $51.54.
We reach “Peak Somm”
I feel like there’s a good deal of truth to this. There are a still a lot of “Somms on somming” kind of articles and we’re still seeing the trade written about but at the same time, I don’t really see how it can go much higher. I suspect this will take longer to draw out via results such as exam numbers of the Court of Master Sommeliers falling off although many have realized there needs to be a “Somm Plus” now and that too many people are earning the titles and just expecting to be out on the flow without experience. In other words, there is a labor surplus.
Wine writers write more about wine writing failing and it will get worse
Nothing much changed on this front. At Mr. Hemming put it “nobody has lost a newspaper column this year, which must count as a success of sorts”. So we’re just in something of a holding pattern with nothing really leaning one way or the other and we’ll see where it goes.
A few “En Primeur” articles will call it finished but it will soldier on
Not much on this front either. En Primeur came and went without the usually jibes. It does continue to soldier on but I feel as if it’s like the US in Afghanistan in that it costs a lot of money, isn’t really accomplishing anything but there’s not really anything to replace it so we just keep dealing with it.
Le Pan Magazine will fold
This did indeed happen as I found out from people involved. This rather random magazine folded up shop quite quietly to never be heard form again at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017. Pity as the Asian market it was targeted at could have really used something in this regard but I suppose that will fall to someone else more focused and able to manage such an enterprise other than coming to the conclusion thta staffing a publication with a pile of MWs is not how you make a magazine.
Georgian wine will get more mainstream
Fresh off researching the book and finishing up the writing, I was all juiced up on Georgian goodness. What I had grossly misunderstood in the current Georgian wine promotion scheme was that there’s too much development money coming into the country and too many foreign “consultants” happy to keep things exactly where they are. This is to say that everyone continues to promote the whole kvevri image while it’s the fact the “international style” of wine is what really pays the bills. Keep in mind that despite all the press releases about the “massive” export growth, they’ve actually just gotten back to a touch above 2014 levels and yes, Russia still makes up 60+% of the export market. So mainstream, no. It’s exactly the same and I see nothing changing sadly.
Sales of Catalan wine in Catalonia will increase, again
Sales figures are still coming in for this but late-fall totals seem to show that there was a 3% increase in Catalan wines consumed in Catalunya with an increase in the wines with DO certification which is all good news. My prediction at the moment appears true but will need revision.
The average bottle price in the UK will increase 15%
While a great many statistics have been released about the UK market, I haven’t come across any exact totals in terms of average wine bottle pricing. It has definitely gone up but as to the exact amount, I’m unsure and will need to see if my 15% was too high or too low.
Someone other than me will state that social media and wine are over
It was almost like a couple of people took this as a nudge to write up some articles about it. Have a look at what W. Blake Grey said as well as what Joe Fattorini said. Naturally, some of the typical voices who make money off selling social media wine services harped on in protest but it’s not an isolated incident. Take it as you may but the best response as to why anyone in wine should do social media is simply because they like it and not because there’s any intent to sell a damned thing with it.
So, my final score is: 6 Correct, 3 Wrong, and 1 Inconclusive. Had this been an exam, that might have just barely been a pass. Looks like I’ll need to get roaring on the 2018 items to see if I can improve and jump up a couple of rungs!
Note that this was revised at the end of March, 2018 in the Peak Somm call from Inconclusive to Correct due to this article which laid out that we have indeed move into a post-Somm place now.