Lizzy Rudd: English wine, Loire and South Africa setting trends for 2018

Lizzy Rudd, the newly appointed chairman of UK fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, has tipped English wine, Loire reds and South African wines as the key players setting the wine trends for 2018.

Lizzy Rudd, chairman of Berry Bros & Rudd, believes that English wine, Loire reds and South Africa are going to be key players in 2018

In an interview with dbHK, Rudd who succeeded Simon Berry last year predicts that 2018 is the year that the trade will see the red wines of the Loire – often overshadowed by its more famous white wines – “come to the fore”.

“France’s Loire region produces some of the world’s best known white wines including Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, but what about the regions red wines?” she asked.

“Every variable, from the quality of producers, pricing, the region’s grape variety, global warming, plus the resurgence in France’s popularity as a wine producer, is in their favour,” she explained, “Favour must eventually be bestowed – and 2018 could be the year”.

Continuing, she thought that English wine, with majority of production being sparkling wine, would continue to gain momentum in the face of Brexit. With a break-off from the EU, it could make domestically produced wine more favourable over imported wine, thanks to the perceived higher tariff destined to be slapped on imported wines and a more favourable export market due to weakening pound.

According to Kym Anderson of the University of Adelaide and Glyn Wittwer of Victoria University who used their model of global wine markets to estimate the effect Brexit will have by 2025, in the most severe Brexit scenario, the UK will import US$1.75 billion, or 27%, less wine: a combined total of US$1.1 billion as a result of lower incomes, US$490 million from the pound depreciation, and just US$140 million as a consequence of higher import tariffs, Quartz reported.

“English wines will continue to be a growing trend, especially with Brexit on the horizon. The quality of English sparkling wines is already fully recognised, so it could be single-site still wines that are the next big thing for our home-grown industry,” she explained. 

Emerging as one of the great wine success stories in recent years, the English wine industry grew its turnover by 16% in 2016 to a record high of £132 million, as previously reported by db.

Beyond Britain, Rudd predicted that South Africa will step into the limelight this year. “As people continue to search for value and quality, South Africa’s new wave of winemakers will continue to make a name for themselves. Look out for wines from Mullineux, Craven and Eben Sadie to name just a few of South Africa’s innovative and exciting winemakers,” she said. 

Etna in Sicily is another wine region Rudd called, “possibly the last fine wine frontier in Europe” with its high altitude and volcanic soil, especially for its white wines made from Carricante and reds from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. 

Additionally, she added that consumers will continue to move away from overly extracted wines to lighter and brighter style of wine, citing the resurgence of Beaujolais as an example. “We have already started to see this movement in terms of wines from Beaujolais. Quality wines from Beaujolais Crus have seen increased sales of over 70% year-on-year”, said Rudd. 

Another star performer from last year that will continue to stride into 2018 with sure success is Sherry, which registered 68% sales increase year-on-year at Berry Bros & Rudd, “led by increases in sales of older and rarer styles plus en rama,” she revealed, referring to the unfiltered Sherries.

“2018 will see the continuation of the great Sherry appreciation trend, especially for Oloroso and Palo Cortado, which has been carefully aged by Almacenistas. Almacenistas are responsible for the maturation of Sherry over several years before they are sold on to the [shipping] Bodegas – the time spent ageing the Sherry is ‘supreme artistry at work’,” she explained.  

Almacenistas are usually small family bodegas that focus solely on maturation, then sell the wines to large shipping bodegas.  

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