Close Menu

Three key wine trends for 2015

From questioning oak maturation to the prominence of Port and lower abv wine – various changes are taking place in the world of wine.

T he big corporate news in 2014 was the aborted attempts to take over Treasury Wine Estates, writes Jeremy Cunnington, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International.

The interesting if not at all surprising thing was that it was private equity houses looking to make the purchase, rather than any wine or even alcoholic drinks company. As has been mentioned in Euromonitor International analysis, wine companies’ focus is primarily on organic growth through expanding their distribution. As many of the major wine companies showed in the merger and acquisition frenzy of the late 1990s and 2000s, growing by acquiring companies and numerous brands is not a sustainable growth model.

When companies decide to pursue merger and acquisition activity, it is to either help its distribution, as Pernod Ricard did with its Kenwood acquisition in the US or gain a fast growing or rare high value winery.

Purchase of this high end winery gives it a stronger base in the US, a market dominated by domestic wine consumption, for its international range of brands. Making a US acquisition is something Euromonitor International has argued the company should be doing for a while. It is also something already done by Viña Concha y Toro and Accolade.

Otherwise, merger and acquisition activity by major companies has focused on picking up niche brands, either in fast growing niche areas or vineyards and wineries in high-end/high-quality growing areas, such as Gallo’s acquisition of the Ledgwood Creek Winery. These types of acquisition, along with the odd trophy acquisition by wealthy individuals, of vineyards in prestige wine areas such as Bordeaux or Burgundy is the way forward for the foreseeable future.

Here Spiros Malandrakis, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International, lays out three key wine trends for 2015…

1. Lighter, transparent, casual and in the mix: Still Wine Moving On:

Initiatives favouring moderation in terms of abv content and questioning the gospel of oak maturation, launches reassessing the decades long myopic scoffing of sweeter styles , a progressive inclusiveness of experimentation and mixers and a hesitant embrace of convenience and the category’s side-lined casual nature will be the key themes in the short to medium term. The catalyst will be the proliferation and expansion of the social media universe democratising the reviewing, comparing and buying processes. From flavoured wines to Wine Raves and from smartphone apps to radical packaging designs, a belated New Dawn for still light grape wine is now upon us. The epicentre for growth will shift back towards the US as the Chinese macro and legislative headwinds take their toll.

2. Behind the bubbles

While Champagne remains largely caught in a spiral of navel gazing , other Sparkling wines will retain their enviable trajectory under the ever heavier shadow of Prosecco and –to a lesser extent- Cava. As biodynamic and organic offerings, small independent producers and local vineyard expressions will spearheaded Champagne’s attempt to turn the macroeconomic tide and its positioning deficit, unpretentious, affordable and casual other sparkling wines will remain more approachable and hence relevant to a younger demographic. The speed in which Asian palates are actually evolving- sparkling wines are yet to secure a loyal audience in the region- will remain the key question in the short to medium term.

3. Leftfield opportunities

Beyond the usual suspects of still light grape and sparkling wines, niche segments will increasingly steal the limelight as the cyclical demand for nostalgia-tinged offerings shows no sign of abating. Port – buoyed by higher end variants, hip retro kudos, expanding geographical clout and a hesitant embrace of the roaring cocktail culture- and mead- not strictly belonging to the wine category but relevant nevertheless and already quietly reaching critical mass in the US – will be segments to watch out for.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No