This year in wine is going to be big.
Because the wine industry is evolving. Gone are the days of ruling Napa Cabs, black-tie-only Champagnes and out-of-reach organics.
When it comes to wine, 2016 is all about accessibility, and the industry is proving to us, bottle by bottle, that it’s opening up its wrought iron gates.
Sustainable practices are proliferating, South Africa has emerged as the seventh largest wine producer in the world, and sparkling cocktails are moving well beyond brunch-mandated mimosas.
To quench your thirst for more vino knowledge, we asked a few industry experts to weigh in on these three wine trends, and here’s what they had to say.
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We already know what you’re thinking, so we’ll cut right to the chase: What exactly is biodynamic wine?
Biodynamic wine is just like regular wine, but more… pure. Essentially, the real difference is in how the wine is made. “It’s a step beyond organic, so there are no chemicals or synthetic fertilizers used,” explains Cristina Mariani-May, CEO of Banfi Wines. “Everything is connected — the vines, the Earth, the animals, the sun, the moon — and interdependent. So the end result is a wine made naturally and responsibly.” When asked why she thinks biodynamic wines are trending so well in 2016, May responded, “I think people — particularly the younger generation — are becoming more aware of what’s going into their bodies, how food products are made, and how that production affects the environment. As a result, they are demanding more natural and responsible farming and food practices, and extending that to wine, because, after all, wine is food.”
Biodynamic Rec: Pacific Rim Riesling
This dry white wine hails from Washington state where 30 percent of the grapes come from biodynamic vineyards. According to May, the Pacific Rim Riesling has a “bright apple-y flavor and a lively acidity that pairs well with the buttery, unctuous texture of wild-caught salmon.” Sold. Prices range from $9 to $20.
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As the charming legend goes, just as he took his first sip of Champagne, the 17th century French Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon overlooked the town of Epernay and famously proclaimed, “Come quickly! I am drinking the stars.” Fact or fiction, sparkling wine has stood the test of time, and thankfully, 2016 is proving that it’s no longer solely reserved for weddings and brunch. “Sparkling wines fit perfectly in line with today’s fast paced way of life,” says Gianluca Bisol, CEO of Bisol Wines. “It’s perfect as an apertif, but can also carry you through an entire meal. It pairs well with light and elegant dishes, but it can also stand up to more exotic cuisine, like Thai and sushi.”
Sparkling Rec: Bisol Jeio Cuvée Rosé
This Italian sparkling rosé is made from a combination of Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes from the steep hills of Veneto. It’s elegant bouquet, light acidity, and dry finish makes for the ideal aperitif. $16
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South African Wines
Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has undergone rapid restructuring — a social progression that has become quite evident in the Rainbow Nation’s winemaking industry. “Changes made in the past 20 years (replanting, etc.) are paying off now that the vines are more mature, and a new generation of winemakers are adding a new creativity and energy to the scene,” says Jim Clarke, U.S. Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa. Clarke says, “It’s been a long time coming because South Africa doesn’t rely on a single grape variety as their calling card… ” He adds, “South African wines are a little bit Old World and a little bit New World. I see that as especially appealing right now. Reds that are generous, but still structured, and therefore food-friendly; whites such as Sauvignon Blancs in particular, with a balance between minerality and tart fruit. We also have a more established tradition of creating great red blends, a category that’s seeing double digit growth the past few years as red wine drinkers grow away from strictly varietal wines.”
South African Rec: Ken Forrester Renegade
This Shiraz-Mourvedre-Grenache blend combines Old World style with New World fruit. It’s earthy rusticity pairs well with roasts and grilled meats. $19