I noted recently that Forbes magazine had an article where various critics were advising what wines everyone should be drinking in 2016. Strangely, with the exception of Swiss wine (which is lovely but very expensive by the time it gets here) the wines they were advising are the ones I’ve been suggesting people give a go in 2015.
Now this could be just a fluke, but it isn’t the first time this has happened. I was selling Portuguese wines for a good few years before the critics got their hands on them, I’ve been pushing South African wines since I opened in 2012, so much so that Swartland is pretty much old hat for me, and I’ve been trying to get people to explore non-traditional wine regions for the past decade.
So what would I suggest to drink in 2016?
The Aussie/Kiwi switch. Look at Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc from Australia and Syrah and Chardonnay from New Zealand. It is almost as if these two countries have swapped the grapes that they became famous for. Producers like Rob Dolan and Tim Knappstein in Oz are making fabulous Pinot Noir and Sauvignon/Semillon blends, and Auntsfield and Staete Landt are making wonderful Chardonnay and Syrah respectfully.
Tawny Port. I’ve pushed Krohn’s tawny port this Christmas, and expect prices to go up in 2016 & 2017 as they are too cheap. However, I still think that Tawnies ports are still going to be a big thing in 2016. They deliver age, prestige and drinkability upon release, which is something that Vintage port doesn’t have, and I think if you are in the mood for dropping a few quid on a bottle of port, you can’t go wrong with Tawny.
Bordeaux! I know that Bordeaux has never gone away, but at the cheaper end of the market, there are some stunning wines that are drinking beautifully. If you can spend between £12 and £30, there is a wide range of stunning wines available – you just have to tread through a minefield of rubbish to find them – fortunately that is my job to do that for you!
Portuguese grape varieties. What I’ve always loved about Portuguese wine is that they have, to a large extent, their own grape varieties. Things like Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Alfrocheiro, which are getting planted throughout the world. We’ve already seen these grapes in Australia and South Africa, but they are spreading all around the world and producing great wines. You are more likely to see them in blends rather than single variety wines, and maybe mixed with grapes from places like the Rhone, but give them a shot – you won’t be disappointed.
English Fizz. I pushed this like crazy back in 2013 and early 2014 and it has been on a bit of a slump for the past year and a half, but thanks to Taittinger buying a load of English countryside in which to plant vines, a new light has been shone on English sparklers. I still maintain that Gusbourne is one of the better wines, but there are others and I think that 2016 should be the year for our domestic producers to do well – all we need is decent weather and a few conveniently placed bottles at Wimbledon!
Micro-negociants. Winemakers who don’t own a single vine and yet go out, buy grapes and make stunning wines. Look at Champagne, Burgundy, Spain, South Africa, Chile… this is the year that the micro-negociant finally makes a big splash in the wine pool.
So that is what I think - what are your thoughts?