Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES – Oct 29th, 2016

Compare Your Predictions with the World’s; Top Smart Buys in VINTAGES, and Licencee Alert! Fine Niagara Pinot under $25
by John Szabo

John Szabo, MS

John Szabo, MS

In this week’s report, compare your predictions on the development and future trends of the wine world with those of key industry stakeholders in seven major international markets. Do your perceptions and predictions match theirs? Are these international views mirrored in Canada? The buyer’s guide features the top smart buys from the Vintages October 29th release, including the best of the Bordeaux theme, as well as random excellence from Portugal, Italy, California, and Greece. Finally, licencees in search of listable pinot noir under $25 take note: a trio of top Niagara pinot noir for on-premise only is now available. And if you missed it, last week David revisited the 90-point rational and he and the crü shared their top 90+ wines from the release. Premium members can see them all here.

What’s Trending in the World of Wine? Compare Your Views

A recent survey conducted by Sopexa, an international communication and marketing agency specializing in food and wine, sheds some light on current perceptions and the future of the world wine market. The findings of the 2016 Wine Trade Monitor were compiled from the responses of 1,100 key stakeholders in seven major international markets (USA, Canada, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea), including importers, wholesalers and retailers, presenting their 2-year forecast on market development and key trends for still wine (champagne, sparkling and fortified wines were not included). Take a moment to consider the questions below, then read on to find out what the rest of the world thinks. Will this be true for Canada?

  1. Which country is an essential part of any import or retail portfolio?
  2. Which country is poised to enjoy the greatest growth in sales?
  3. Which country enjoys the most positive image across categories such as “special occasions”, “sustainably developed”, “wide range”, and “consistent taste”? Who’s at the bottom?
  4. Which country is most closely associated with “attractively priced”, and “wines for every day”?
  5. Which country is viewed as the most innovative?
  6. What will be the main driving force behind consumer purchasing decision: region/appellation, variety, price, or organic/sustainable/biodynamic?
  7. Which grape variety is on the way up, and which is on the way out?


Answers (at least, according to Sopexa):

  1. France.

No news here. France is still the most popular wine-producing country in trade portfolios, considered a “must-stock” category. Vin français is represented in the portfolios of 94% of respondents. Italy follows (80%), then Spain (76%). Within our borders, however, there’s no doubt Spain is far less represented. We’re a little slow on that trend, but it’s definitely a growing category.
In the new world, Chile leads the way, listed by 64% of those surveyed, compared to Australia (62%) and the USA (58%). In Canada, I’d wager the USA and Australia are far ahead of Chile.

  1. Spain.

To my point above, 40% of all respondents – and 1 in 2 in Canada –anticipate a significant increase in sales of Spanish wines by 2018. Christian Barré, President of the Spanish Wine Federation And Managing Director Of Pernod Ricard Winemakers Spain, points out:
“Among the reasons behind the success of Spanish wines, I would mention first of all that for a great number of consumers, they are seen to offer great value for money, which is a real selling point in times of economic crisis. In addition, the entire Spanish wine sector, particularly certain wine regions such as Rioja, has become very aware – faced with this crisis – of the need to develop exports. It has therefore grouped together to promote the growth of its wines and brands internationally.”

  1. France.

Again, no surprise here. A 200 year head start on the world of fine wine takes time to erode. “In terms of global image, France lies significantly ahead of its competitors. 69% of all respondents consider French wines to be the most successful, across all criteria.” In contrast, and perhaps more surprisingly, Italy lies at the other end of the scale with only 13% of votes. I think Canadian love for Italian wines runs a little deeper.

  1. Spain and Chile.

Did you guess that Spain and Chile top the value list? Chile, in particular, has been considered a haven for bargains since first emerging on the Canadian import scene in the late 1980s. I suspect the Chileans would like to shed that image, however, and get on the premium bandwagon. It’s a lesson Spain should study closely as more and more Spanish wines enter the market.

  1. Australia.

Australia comes out as the most innovative country, a testament to the effectiveness of the steadfast educational blitzkrieg of Wine Australia over the last decade, aimed at debunking the myth that Oz offers little more than simple sunshine in a bottle. It is indeed a dynamic country (so is Chile, yet fewer people seem aware of this). Australian shiraz?  It doesn’t exist. You gotta be more specific to be taken as a serious wine professional these days.

  1. Region/appellation.

Place, it seems, matters most. A wine’s origins will continue to drive purchasing decisions, and become increasingly important, adding the most value. Variety and low-cost are the second and third most important factors, while organic/biodynamic certification is the least important purchase driver, despite what we wine writers continue to say, except in Japan. But we also say that place matters, a lot.

  1. Grenache is in, malbec is out.

When did you last try a Grenache? “Currently one of the world’s most cultivated grape varieties, Grenache is particularly sought-after by North-American wine professionals who now rank it among their top 5” says the survey. Grenache is now positioned 4th overall behind cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and pinot noir. “Olivier Moreaux, Director of Sopexa Americas explains: “The demand for Grenache-based wines is in line with strong growth over recent years in sales of Spanish wines, as well as wines from the Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon. Offering great value for money, Grenache-based wines beautifully meet consumer needs as they are well structured, fruit-driven and easy-to-drink.”

On the contrary, Malbec seems to have lost its luster: “Just 5 years ago it was at the top of the rankings, particularly in the US.” Argentina, of course, leads the malbec market, actually single-handedly created it, but now it’s suffering from the sameness syndrome and the boredom that accompanies it. The next crucial step for Argentina will be to both diversify their varietal offering and to differentiate between regional styles of malbec.

So there you have it. Are these accurate predictions, or self-fulfilling prophecies? Your dollars will decide.

Top Picks from the Oct 29th VINTAGES release:

That’s all for this week. See you over the next bottle.






John Szabo, MS

Note:  Our latest VINTAGES Buyers’ Guide selections are only visible to our Paid subscribers. Non-paying members will see the recommendations 30 days after publication. Non-paying members now have access to our New Releases to discover the best of recent VINTAGES releases still in stock.

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That’s it for this week.


Sara d’Amato

From VINTAGES October 15, 2016

Use these quick links for immediate access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release.

Lawrason’s Take
Sara’s Sommelier Selections
Michael’s Mix
Szabo’s Smart Buys
All October 15th Reviews

New Release and VINTAGES Preview

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Premium subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 30 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!

Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc 2015

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