26-12-2018

The 2018 Wine Predictions in review

We arrive to that time of year for everyone’s predictions in the wine industry about the year to come. I’ll join in that bluster parade shortly but unlike everyone else, I like to go back and review my 2018 predictions to see what I got right and what I got wrong. Why do this when there’s greater potential to look like an idiot than a genius? Because it’s one small exercise to try and stay humble in the world of wine as honestly, the more you think you know, the more likely you’re getting into a fight on Twitter…

So, shall we then?

Premiumization of UK wine sales

I can’t find statistics to support this one way or the other. Towards the end of January more year’end reports will come out as company filings are released. The fact that taxes were raised this year on wines points back to the original argument that the more you spend on wine in the UK, the exponentially-better wine you get. I still believe that things are headed this way, but how things shake out post-Brexit will define much in Britain and therein is the mightiest of crap shoots at the moment.
Score: Inconclusive

Decanter will not be the same

This is most definitely the case. In attending a panel talk during the Wine Writer’s Symposium in Napa Valley this year, a senior editor at Decanter showed the general layout for each issue and the amount of text written specifically for the magazine by freelance writers is minuscule. “Sponsored content” has been taking over more and more of the magazine as well as the online content. The fact that they were bought from Time as part of that sell off and then resold again to TI Media leaves it to be seen as to what will be left of Decanter in the near future. I seriously don’t envy the magazine’s management as I’m sure all the upheaval has made it tough to balance editorial with bottom line and I wish them the best going forward.
Score: Correct

Time’s up on “natural” wine

In case you haven’t been aware of it, there’s been a blow-up on “natural” wine on social media over the last two months way above and beyond the standard yawn-inducing rumble. People are tired of the bullshit that goes along with it, especially given that there’s an American President and Brexit who have come into existence based solely upon misinformation and exaggeration. This interview fueled the fire a great deal as well and people are just flat-out done with it. I’m sure many won’t agree with me but like unfortunate political situations, I’m firmly of the opinion that the whole stupid thing is now crashing down. Even “natural” wine people are making disingenuous “uh, the cat did it” sidesteps along the lines of “Oh, I love natural wines, but I truly hate faulty wines.” which was not the party line just two years ago. I’ll be following up more on this front in due course.
Score: Correct

Wine publishing side projects get assessed

No movement on this and I probably called it a year two early as if a recession arrives in the US, a reckoning will happen on this front in a most serious way so we’ll see where we get on this but for now, my pessimism was misplaced.
Score: Wrong

Selling wine in the US will get harder

Not seeing conclusive data one way or the other. People have noted that it’s a tough racket to sell given the large players still dominating, but nothing has really happened at a high government level to make it any harder than previously. Again, if there’s a recession this year, there will be consolidation and yes, it will get harder, much harder.
Score: Inconclusive

Xarel·lo gets some spotlight

Yeah, didn’t happen. Who knows, maybe it will be Carignan this year, or maybe nothing. Just tossed it out there in the hopes of spurning a higher profile to some serious yum in terms of an under-appreciated grape.
Score: Wrong

So, my final score is: 2 Correct, 2 Wrong, and 2 Inconclusive. There’s definitely room for improvement here so let’s see how I do with the 2019 predictions!

WINES

Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR
92 2 Stars