Top 10 Wine News: 2005
Assuming news of wine’s cancer curing properties is not announced between now and the end of December, following are my Top Ten Wine News Stories of 2005
THE TOP TEN WINE NEWS STORIES OF 2005
10. The Rise of Rose
How great was this? Finally in 2005 Dry Rose came on strong in popularity, appealing not only to the younger drinkers that have found wine, but to the wine trade in general. We had a Rose tasting in San Francisco as well as a book on Rose. We saw lots of new Rose hit the market too. Jeff Morgan, owner of Solo Rosa, has played a big part in promoting not only his own fine bottling of pink wine, but drawing attention to Rose in general. Watch for the trend to continue in 2006 along with higher prices for the best best promoted bottlings.
9. Wine Blogging Comes On Strong
Yes, wine blogging seems to be everywhere. In the year that Fermentation has been on line the number of people creating and maintaining blogs on wine has increased 500%. And there seems like nothing can stop the onslaught. The new trend in wine info publishing is part of the larger blogging trend that has changed the way people consume information in the Net and changed the way websites are designed and distributed. But what of he impact of Blogs? Some have gained great readership, helped move wine and helped move he debate. The impact will continue to grow as the audience for these unique voices grows.
8. The Growth of Wine In The Box
People are convinced. The quality of Box Wines is just fine and they are expressing that satisfaction in record numbers. According to Wine Business Monthly, sales of Box Wine increased 160% between 2003 and 2005. At around $15 for some of the better boxes, it’s hard to argue. That’s about $3.75 for a wine that will stay perfectly fresh in your fridge for a LONG time. A lot of big producers are in the Box game so expect the promotion of this category to continue even stronger in 2006.
7. Mondovino Offends, Delights, Creates Debate
Readers of this wine blog will know that I thought Mondovino, the documentary on the nexus of wine and globalism, was a pretty trashy attempt at making a point about globalization. That said, Director Jonathon Nossiter stirred up a hornets nest with his shaky, over long depiction of the "good guy" and "bad guys" of wine and the the apparent World Take-Over of wine by the giant, uncaring wine "manufacturers". The debate that ensued was fascinating, reaching into issues of terroir, natural vs. synthetic winemaking, globalization and standardization of taste.
6. French Wine Industry In Disarray
This has been a tough year for the French. Falling domestic sales. Falling export sales. Prices for grapes that have plummeted causing riots among winemakers and falling prices for wines. All this has led to some nasty transatlantic back and fourths as the French have tried to blame the "globalization of taste" for their declining sales. No matter what you think of the superior attitude the French expose when it comes to the issue of wine, you still have to hope their wine industry gets back on its feet. France is the traditional and sentimental home of all wine lovers.
5. Wine Takes Home the Oscar
The impact of Sideways taking home Oscars reminds me of what happened in the wake of "60 Minutes" broadcasting a segment on the "French Paradox" and the health benefits of wine. It was dramatic. It had been a long time since wine had been given such a high profile stage and sales reflected the impact of that kind of exposure. 2005 saw the wine business and Pinot Noir sales in particular come back strong. In large part is was due to the popularity of "Sideways". Now what we need is an Emmy winning dramatic series about wine.
4. The Hangtime/Ripeness Debate
It has been building for quite some time. But 2005 saw the debate over the impact of riper and riper, bigger and bigger, more and more alcoholic wines. Andy Beckstoffer, the largest independent grower in Napa Valley, nearly single handedly forced the debate upon the industry by questioning the affect longer hangtime had on the vines and those who grow them. The media too picked up on the issue of bigger, more alcoholic wines and it seemed the issue was a constant on the various wine message boards and blogs. One gets the sense that the pendulum may have swung so far to the ripeness side that it might be ready head back toward balance. Yet there are those who have incorrectly blamed Robert Parker’s and the Wine Spectator’s palate for this stylistic trend that believe BIG wines will continue to dominate the quality end of the market as long as reviewers push the industry.
3. Pinot Noir On The Rise
The increase in sales of Pinot Noir has been nothing less than spectacular in 2005. Sales have jumped nearly 80% over the same periods in 2004. They say that the movie "Sideways" is the reason. Whatever the explanation there is no getting around the fact that Pinot Noir is the "Varietal of the Year". What that means for consumers is that there will be a lot more to choose from in 2006, particularly at the low end of the price spectrum. You can also count on the prices of the best Pinots, domestic and imported to rise in the face of demand.
2. The Wine Warehouse Fire
Devastating. And, if it turns out to be true that the wine warehouse fire in Vallejo, California is the result of arson the mourning will be even greater for the pure despicableness of the act. Wineries lots whole vintages while some lost years and years of library wines. The impact will be felt for some time. Wineries will take a closer look at their insurance. And warehousing companies will be making serious upgrades to their facilities.
1. The Supreme Court Rules On Direct Shipping of Wine To Consumers
Ruling in May that a state could not discriminate against out of state shippers by preventing them from selling direct, while in-state wineries could, the Supreme Court of the United States dealt a severe blow to wholesaler-instigated monopolies. The 5-4 ruling sparked a wholesale re-appraisal of wine shipping laws in the various states with the majority choosing to liberalize direct sales. The changes will continue in 2006 as other states come to grips with the choice of supporting consumers and local wine industries by opening up direct sales or bowing to wholesaler pressure and campaign contributions by closing off all direct sales.