Guessing which wines will be trendy in 2006 is no easy task, but it can be fun to look ahead and, personally, I can hardly wait for the year to unfold.
If you havent been paying attention, British Columbia wine drinkers are recalibrating their palates at breakneck speed. Food and wine, wine-by-the-glass, wine for the cellar its all up for renewal and everyone seems to want the latest and best.
Whats clear is white wine is back in vogue as consumers continue their quest to drink the best wine values in the market. Coming off years of drinking big rich reds they are looking for white wine with big flavour although not necessarily any obvious wood.
Three growing categories lead the charge:
Up first is riesling, and for that matter the entire aromatic spectrum of grape varieties such as gewürztraminer, ehrenfelser, chenin blanc, and viognier. Many are available under screwcap, making them the coolest white wines in the market and consumers are beginning to think so, too.
If the crisp, mineral, citrus/honey flavours of riesling appeal to you, look no further than modern Germany and the labels of Dr. L (Loosen), Lingenfelder Bird Series, Gunderloch Redstone or Selbach Kabinett (Green Fish Label). Award-winning Canadian riesling includes the likes of Wild Goose, Gehringer Brothers, Lang and CedarCreek from B.C. or Vineland, Chateau des Charmes, Flat Rock and 13th Street out of Ontarios Niagara Peninsula.
Next is a fresh look at a pair of un-oaked or, at the most, very lightly wooded varieties: sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.
Oysters and sauvignon blanc are the poster child for fresh food and wine, and while they were once the domain of New Zealand producers the likes of Cloudy Bay, Nautilus and Kim Crawford, todays standard bearers have gone global. Some personal favourites include Benziger (Sonoma), Sumac Ridge (B.C.), Mulderbosch (South Africa), St Supéry (Napa) and Palandri (Western Australia), Trio (Chile) and Jolivet from the Loire.
If white is the new red, the coolest of all may be the revamped chardonnay since 2000. Gone is the over-oaked, alcoholic icon of yesterday; in its place comes a modern, bright version full of green apple and melon fruit with a dash of creamy lees and mineral - and it hails from cool coastal climes.
Penfolds Yattarna and Shaw and Smith M3 (Adelaide Hills, Australia), Errazuriz Wild Ferment (Casablanca, Chile), La Crema Santa Barbara and Hartford Sonoma Coast (California) and Mission Hill SLC (Okanagan Valley) are but a few of the prototypes. Less oak, more acid and aromas that jump from the glass have everyone thinking food and wine.