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Top 10 defining drinks trends of this century so far

In July 2002 we published the first issue of the drinks business. This month we’re celebrating our 200th edition. Since launching, the wine world has changed dramatically. Patrick Schmitt MW explores 10 key trends that have pushed it forward.

Alex Hall’s ‘Hip, Hip, Hooray’, the cover image of our 200th issue, has gone on sale for £10,500

Loyal supporters

db would never have reached 100 issues, let alone 200, without the support of brand owners in this business, and we are particularly pleased to see that so many of the partners that featured in our first ever edition of the magazine are still working with us today. Among such longstanding supporters are major players in the world of Champagne and Spain, with producers in Rioja proving particularly loyal. Indeed, both Marqués de Cáceres and Campo Viejo – the two power brands of this region – featured in issue 1 and this, the 200th copy of db. Testament to their strength, and the enduring appeal of this region, the president of Marqués de Cáceres reminds db readers how much the competition for the classic wines of Europe has intensified during this century. Nevertheless, the top drops of Rioja have retained their relevance, enticing a new generation of wine drinkers. For Campo Viejo, a cornerstone to this brand’s strength relates to its early adoption of sustainable approaches to production, and, it was not long after db launched that this famous Rioja brand completed a new winery, which was one of the first in the world to follow the principles of sustainable architecture, seamlessly integrated with the environment. Laying the groundwork ahead of a forecasted rise in demand for sustainable drinks, Campo Viejo was also Spain’s first winery to be certified Carbon Neutral in 2012. And, such a green focus has been recognised today, with Campo Viejo receiving a ‘Sustainability Award’ in the 2018 Green Awards by the drinks business, which you can read about in our January edition.

It’s been 200 issues since the drinks business arrived onto the scene. Published monthly, we’ve been producing magazines since July 2002, and with an average pagination of around 100 sheets in each edition, we must have printed 200,000 pages of drinks-related news and comment since we started – representing at least 100 million words.

That’s without including our Hong Kong magazine – launched in October 2011, or our website, which went live in January 2006, making it an essential news resource for the global drinks industry for more than 13 years.

the drinks business has developed significantly since issue one, notably from a monthly magazine into a powerful multi-media brand in the beer, wine and spirits trade. It has achieved this since its first edition, which was published in July 2002, through the development of its awards, designed to recognise and reward excellence in drinks; its numerous special reports on trends, sectors and countries; and its powerful online presence, along with its events and masterclasses for both trade and consumer audiences, and finally, its blind-tasting competitions, called the Global Masters.

Today, we proudly state that db is the world’s leading print, online and social media channel for dedicated news and objective editorial covering the wine, beer and spirits sector. Despite reaching such a stage in our development, db is constantly improving its offer, as well as expanding its reach. Among the publishing brand’s most recent launches is a website dedicated entirely to our Global Masters tasting competitions:

Not long before this, we unveiled a further website, along with a printed guide, devoted to rating restaurant wine lists, called Wine List Confidential. This was augmented at the start of this year with a run-down of London’s top 50 most influential sommeliers. As for the future, the end of this year will see db celebrate the world’s best winemakers, with both a printed guide and an event, which will reward the top performers from our Global Masters competitions.

So, how should we mark this milestone edition? We have settled on a set of themes, each supported by a medal-winning wine from our Global Wine Masters.

Such subjects represent 10 areas of the wine trade that have changed beyond recognition since we started. If you like, these are the defining drinks of our century so far.

10. Eccentric niche to professional branded business: English fizz

You may be thinking that, as a publication headquartered in London, we would pick our nation’s wine industry as one of the biggest developments of this century. But we’ve spent far more time trawling the great wine regions of the world than we have our domestic vineyards – even though some of the best terroir for traditional method sparkling wines is about 50 minutes from our office by train. With that in mind, if I were to pick something that has, in this century alone, changed dramatically from amateur, eccentric niche to professional and quality-oriented, then it would the English wine industry, newly branded as Wine GB, and on a high from its best vintage ever. I don’t think there’s been such a marked turnaround anywhere else in the world, and famous names have been drawn into it, whether they be big business players (Eric Heerema of Nyetimber) to wine personalities (Steven Spurrier of Bride Valley). It was the wines of Hambledon that featured at last year’s Masters of Wine Symposium in the seminar on ‘emerging modern classics’.

But the best is yet to come, even though English fizz is already on the international radar, something I would not have forecast in July 2002, when we launched our first issue of db.

It should be added that the whole British drinks scene is becoming a global phenomenon. While Scotch is a historic international force, the UK craft gin business is beginning to go global, kickstarting a renewed appreciation of this distinctly British spirit. We’d also like to think we’ve played our role in the development of UK-made drinks, disseminating the developments to our global readership on- and offline, and breaking stories that went viral, while also identifying the best in English fizz and British spirits in our blind tasting competition series, the Global Masters.

Toast: Wiston Estate, Cuvée 2009, South Downs, Sussex, UK (Medal-winner, Global Sparkling Wine Masters 2018)

9. Posh and pink: Luxury rosé

At the start of this century, rosé was hardly considered a serious drink, and it wasn’t a celebrity-endorsed category. Now it is both. This is a sector of the wine world that has turned from big-brand blush quaffer to highly profitable fine wine, attracting A-list stars from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to Jon Bon Jovi. Famous for off-dry orangey pink offerings from the likes of Portugal and California at the start of the millennium, now it is the height of sophistication to sip bone-dry rosés, primarily from Provence, and especially in large formats. The one requirement is that they must be pale. Just as the style of rosé has swung from sweet to dry since we launched db, the colour has changed too, going from a translucent ruby to a barely-tinged pink. With the maturation of the category has come diversity. Charted in detail by our Global Rosé Masters – a blind tasting first held by db in 2014 – pink drinks now come in a broad range of styles, from the very light, almost herbaceous, to the rich, creamy sort of wine that, if it were tasted in a black glass, one might assume was a great barrel-aged white Burgundy.

This century has seen rosé enter the realm of fine ageworthy wine, led by the introduction of Garrus, a Provençal pink from Sacha Lichine that spends 12 months maturing in barriques, and costs almost £100. It doesn’t represent the price pinnacle in rosé, however. That position is held by pink Champagne, with the likes of Laurent-Perrier’s Cuvée Alexandra proving a consistent top performer in our Rosé Masters, and with a price tag of more than £300. But the point is this: pink is no longer seen as something frivolous. Quite the opposite. Rosé now has a cachet that’s not carried by its blanc equivalent.

Toast: Château d’Esclans, Garrus Rosé, Côtes de Provence (Master medal-winner, Global Rosé Masters)

8. Tougher than the rest: Champagne

Few, if any, luxury products are as resilient as Champagne, and the product’s appeal has certainly been tested since db started. At the time of our launch in 2002, Champagne was only just recovering from the millennium hangover – when demand for fizz for turn of the century partying fell way short of Champagne producers’ expectations, leaving them with great stocks of unsold bottles. But bringing demand back in line with supply had involved plenty of heavy discounting by big supermarket groups in the UK and Europe, eroding Champagne’s upmarket positioning. The region had also been fending off accusations of poor viticultural practices, having spent years spreading decomposed food waste from Paris rubbish collections onto its vineyards. This is a perfectly sensible solution to fertilise the soil, but unfortunately the organic matter was mixed with other rubbish, particularly bits of blue plastic, the colour of the city’s refuse sacks, which are still visible today if you look closely at Champagne’s soils. Such bright polymers are much harder to see in this decade because the region has been aggressive about adopting sustainable practices, particularly grass cover in the vineyards. It has also been a leader in the use of sexual-confusion techniques to deter grapevine moths laying eggs in the vineyards – a solution employing pheromone diffusion that does away with the need to spread pesticides.

But while Champagne overcame overstocking in its key markets, then clawed its way up to a new record of shipping almost 340 million bottles in 2007, it was then dealt a heavy blow with the global financial crisis, pushing it below the 300 million mark by 2009. The negative impact of austerity measures from this time was then mixed with the rise in popularity of cheaper, sweeter Prosecco, meaning Champagne would see its mettle tested in its mature markets, above all the UK.

But Champagne has bounced back as a fitter, stronger and better product. Sales are more balanced than ever before with, by the end of 2017, as many as 30 markets each consuming more than 500,000 bottles annually. Producers have responded to declines in Europe by building new – and often more profitable – sources of consumption in emerging markets, along with the US.

Partly as a result of a fall-off in demand from 2008, the quality of Champagne has risen. Yields have been more restricted, and ageing times increased, making for a richer, more complex style of fizz – a trend confirmed by the improving quality of results in our Champagne Masters – a unique Champagne-only tasting competition held by db annually since 2011. Climate change has also been kind, with a run of magnificent vintages in this millennium, starting with the critically acclaimed 2002 harvest, which also marked Champagne’s status as not only a celebratory fizz, but a collectible fine wine – a move driven by merchants in the UK looking for things to promote other than Bordeaux. Whereas Champagne at the start of this century was a product almost entirely consumed in Europe, and at risk of commoditisation at the hands of the supermarkets in the UK and France, today it may be a smaller volume player – hovering around the 300m mark – but it is a more profitable branded product, with a much more even global footprint, and a better product mix. It’s been quite a journey, but the outcome has proved this product’s remarkable resilience. Mind you, in the previous century it had survived two world wars, the oil crisis of the ’70s, and severe recessions of the early ’80s then the early ’90s.
Since we launched our inaugural Champagne report in 2003, we have produced the most comprehensive single annual publication on the state of Champagne, supplemented by our almost daily reporting on developments in the region on our website.

Toast: Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve (Master medal-winner, Champagne Masters)

7. Italian appeal: Prosecco’s rapid rise

The world’s largest region for sparkling wine by volume, it is amazing to think that when db launched, Prosecco was barely on the wine trade’s radar. With production growing tenfold in the past decade, this tank method fizz from northeast Italy has outgrown all other sparkling wine appellations, yielding the equivalent of almost 600m bottles in the last harvest (almost double the output from Champagne), when it was making fewer than 60m in 2008. As db reported at the end of last year, Prosecco could be on course to hit the one-billion bottle mark soon, that is, if the DOC becomes fully planted, and conditions, as well as regulations on yields, allow.

Such an output may be excessive, as demand for the fizz in its biggest markets, led by the UK, is starting to show signs of stagnation. But in spring 2015 db broke news that such was the thirst for the aromatic, slightly sweet fizz in the UK, there might not be enough to go round. Having predicted a Prosecco shortage by the summer, within days every newspaper, wire and channel had picked up on the story, prompting panic buying among UK consumers. We had already been at the forefront of Prosecco reporting, and the previous year, had become the first publication to hold a blind tasting for this product, launching the Prosecco Masters at the start of 2014. Testing the theory by some in the trade that ‘all Prosecco tastes the same’, we held a sampling for every style and price band, taking in established brands and supermarket own-labels.

The result showed this was a diverse category, with plenty of variation in style and quality, connected to production technique, but also grape sourcing. Having run this competition every year since – while retaining our position as the only comprehensive blind tasting for Prosecco – we have learnt where the quality lies. In general, the hillsides of DOCG regions Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and Asolo yield the most characterful Proseccos, especially in distinctive sub-zones, dubbed Rive, while the sweet spot for the fizz seems to be the extra-dry classification, which is, much to the confusion of most consumers, sweeter than Brut. Notably, over the course of this century, Prosecco seems to have taken over as Italy’s ‘new Pinot Grigio’, which was once the country’s most voluminous product, but, with a 300m-bottle output, is now half the size of Prosecco. It has also proved the nation’s leader in fizz, even though a decade ago it was thought that Moscato – which is sweeter and lighter – would become the next global sparkling phenomenon.

Toast: Val D’Oca, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Brut, Rive di Colbertaldo (Medal-winner, Prosecco Masters)

6. From ABC to CCC: Chardonnay revisited

It would be safe to say that not a single one of the 200 issues of db have been sent to the printers without a mention of Chardonnay. The world’s most widely planted white grape, and one of the most divisive of all varieties, it is either dismissed as unpalatable, or rated as the ideal desert island grape – after all, it is the basis of the greatest fizz (from Comtes de Champagne to Salon); the most celebrated barrel-aged whites (from Leflaive Montrachet to Kistler Carneros), or the most popular steely refreshment in Chablis. But when we launched db in 2002, the grape was plagued by a reputation for producing unbalanced wines. Whether you blame Australia or the US, the appealing aspects of Chardonnay had been exaggerated to such a degree that the result was far from pleasing, spawning a movement dubbed ‘Anything but Chardonnay’, shortened to ABC. Sales began a steady decline, with Pinot Grigio, then Sauvignon Blanc and rosé picking up the slack.

Before the millennium, Chardonnay had been the world’s most popular grape, thanks to its seductive, textural appeal, its combination of stone fruit flavours and lemon-fresh acidity, and its unparalleled ability to successfully carry the attractive characters from certain cellar practices, such as creamy notes from malolactic fermentation, nutty richness from lees contact, and the toastiness from oak, as well as a touch of vanilla if there’s new wood too. These are aspects that, when combined, create a delicious and mouth-filling glass of white wine. Something with instant appeal, and versatility.

As is so often the case with success stories, the situation can turn sour when people take things too far. Looking back, I suppose there was a sense that if people liked the characters described above in moderation, they would enjoy them even more if they were amplified. The problem was that the delicious nature of good Chardonnay came about when such aspects were in harmony, and increasing the influence of lees and oak, without also turning up the concentration of the fruit, left the drinker with a hollow experience.

Between the development described above and now, we have seen a pendulum swing in Chardonnay style, with the over-oaked, buttery examples replaced by the so-called ‘skinny’
version. This has emerged with plantations in chillier coastal or high-altitude locations, yielding the emergence of cool-climate Chardonnay, or CCC. It has also been achieved by picking earlier, preventing the occurrence of malolactic fermentation, and eschewing ageing the wine in barriques.

As part of this, we have also seen the development of another aspect to Chardonnay style – the manipulation of fermentations to create hydrogen sulphide, the source of a whiff of struck match at low levels, but the smell of blocked drains at greater concentrations. When present in small quantities, it adds an attractive and complexing note to Chardonnay.

As illustrated by our Chardonnay Masters, the lean, struck-match school of Chardonnay has triumphed over the ripe, tropical, oaky one. But the diversity of style is broad, and the quality brilliant, prompting a resurgence in demand for the grape, and a revision of its reputation.

Bringing Chardonnay back in vogue, particularly with sommeliers in the UK and US, is the brilliance of great white Burgundy – plagued by premox issues from 1996-2004 – New World Chardonnay hotspots from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand to Carneros in California and the Adelaide Hills in Australia, along with parts of South Africa and Chile (such as rising star Limarí), as well as niche but fashionable wine list favourites: Oregon and the Jura.

And let’s not forget Champagne, where blanc de blancs expressions are now so popular, there’s a Chardonnay shortage in the appellation. Chardonnay has come full-circle in terms of sales and reputation over 200 issues of db.

Toast: Bird in Hand, Nest Egg Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, Australia (Master medal-winner, Chardonnay Masters)

5. Green machine: Sauvignon Blanc

While this century has seen Chardonnay’s reputation swing from rejection to reverence, when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, the trajectory has been different, with the grape moving from relative obscurity to, for some, an off-putting prevalence. Such a development has been driven by one country: New Zealand, above all the region of Marlborough, which is now fully planted, and almost entirely with Sauvignon Blanc.

A grape that’s famous for its green aromas, from gooseberries to bell pepper, and even nettles, it has, to some extent, made extreme refreshment trendy in wine. While some in the trade see such characters as unripe, others herald them as cooling and cleansing.

Going hand in hand with the rise of Sauvignon Blanc, which is now so widely planted there’s barely a wine region without at least an experimental few rows of the grape, has been the mockery of the variety by professionals, even if it’s still widely adored by the public. In essence, in the trade, there’s a snobbery regarding the grape; a sense that it lacks gravitas. As with all varieties, some entry-level offerings disappoint. Certainly our Sauvignon Blanc Masters has shown that the weakest examples can be thin, herbaceous and acidic, sometimes mixed with a touch of residual sugar – a combination that would give any grape a bad name. But mostly, it is Sauvignon’s instantly recognisable pungency, even at low prices, that makes it distinctive, memorable and crowd-pleasing.

It can also deliver a broad array of characteristics, depending on where it is grown and when it’s picked. These range from the crunchy bell pepper taste of cooler-climate areas to something pleasingly exotic, with notes of melon, pineapple and passion fruit, even an oily texture, particularly in the warmer climates of Napa or Graves.

And it’s wrong to believe Sauvignon Blanc can’t be used to create fine, ageworthy wines. Where old vines in great Sauvignon terroirs are coupled with skilled winemakers, the results can be astounding. Sometimes the complexity comes mainly from the site, with chalky characters mingling with citrus and lemongrass notes in the great whites of the Loire. At other times it seems to emanate from the cellar techniques, particularly the use of oak in the great Sauvignons of California or Bordeaux, where ripe fruit complements barrel-sourced vanilla flavours beautifully.
Finally, there are the blends, which highlight the potential greatness of this grape as a partner to others, particularly Semillon. And today, while Chardonnay has become skinnier, Sauvignon is going in the opposite direction, and there’s a move towards more textural styles, created through later harvesting, increased lees contact, and the use of barrels or foudres for fermentation and ageing, among other techniques.

But the biggest change in 200 issues concerns Sauvignon’s shift from French speciality to globally planted phenomenon, and a staple of every bar and restaurant worth its salt, particularly by the glass. However professionals may view the variety, consumers remain enthusiastically devoted to Sauvignon.

Toast: Lawson’s Dry Hills, Blind River Tekau Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand (Master medal-winner, Sauvignon Blanc Masters)

4. Latin flavour: Malbec

No list of the wine trends of this century would be complete without mentioning Malbec – a grape that has infiltrated almost every part of the trade, and particularly those restaurants serving red meat. It is also a grape now planted in a wide range of places, but most famously connected with South America, even though its native home is the little-known region of Cahors in southwest France. Few unions have emerged as successfully since we launched db as Argentina in connection with Malbec. As we’ve mentioned, in the past two decades, db has witnessed Provençal rosé come onto the scene strongly, along with New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc, and, on a smaller scale, England and sparkling.

But what’s notable about Malbec’s relationship with Latin America is the way in which Argentina has taken this sidelined French grape and made it famous. In doing so, Argentina has generated a lot of competition, with Chile, Australia and with Southern France, planting more Malbec, hoping to cash in on the variety’s newfound popularity. As plantings of Malbec increase worldwide, albeit from a small base, Argentina wants to prove that its Malbec is unique. Not only that, but fine. And, crucially, stylistically diverse.

While the mainstream wine consumer may see Malbec as synonymous with the deeply coloured, juicy red that’s perfect for consuming with marbled meat, Argentine producers view this grape as a medium for conveying the nation’s varied terroir. Whether it’s thanks to soil type, climate, elevation, vine selection, or vineyard age and management, as well as winemaking techniques, Argentine Malbec can take on many forms, from herbal, aromatic, peppery styles to concentrated, tannic, chocolate-laden expressions.

This is something we’ve seen in tastings, having added to our Global Masters series with a blind tasting focused on Malbec, starting in 2015. Such a competition has also highlighted the rising quality of Malbecs from outside of South America, and, in particular, the grape’s original source: Cahors. Indeed, it was a Malbec from this region that gained the highest score in 2018’s Malbec Masters competition.

Toast: Viña Doña Paula, El Alto Parcel, Mendoza, Argentina, 2014 (medal-winner Malbec Masters)

3. The Sideways effect: Pinot Noir

A little over two years after db printed its first issue, a film was released that would change the world of wine. Sideways hit the big screens in the US on 22 October 2004, and, as members of the global wine trade know only too well, the movie featured a memorable scene in which lead character Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, heaps praise on Pinot Noir (having previously expressed his disdain for Merlot). The combination of this eulogy, and the film’s eventual global success, turned Pinot from the preserve of only the most learned wine lover to the most desirable drink of the aspirational consumer.

As a result, within 10 years, db was reporting on a “saturation” for Pinot production in the US, following a 65% rise in acreage between 2006 and 2015 of this single variety in California, making it the fourth most planted grape in the state. But Pinot hadn’t just been embraced in the US, it had been widely planted in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Chile, which has emerged as a major player in affordable Pinot.

Speaking to members of the trade in major wine-importing markets, and right through this decade, it has been clear that one of the most demanded wines in recent history is New World Pinot.

Stylistically, it has changed significantly too, swinging from the lightweight reds of France, particularly the entry-level offerings from its native home of Burgundy, to dark, rather jammy and sometimes spirity wines of hotter climates. These latter types of Pinot are now much harder to find, as winemakers have realised that the appeal of this grape centres on its perfume, softness, and fresh red fruit. With the grape so widely trialled, since the start of the century, certain parts of the New World have become strongly associated with fine, distinctive Pinot, such as coastal Chile (San Antonio/Casablanca), cool-climate Australia (Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula), New Zealand (Central Otago, Martinborough), the US (Sonoma, Oregon), South Africa (Hemel en Aarde/Hermanus). Italy continues to craft pretty Pinots; Germany has emerged as serious player for cherry-scented examples, while new sources are emerging around the globe, such as Japan’s north island of Hokkaido.

Meanwhile, the popularity of Pinot has made top-end Burgundy the most sought-after fine wine for moneyed collectors. Such demand has taken wine’s value to new heights, with an October 2018 auction seeing a single bottle of the world’s most prized Pinot, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s 1945 Romanée-Conti, sell for an astounding US$558,000 (£422,180) at auction. This sum, as we noted at the end of last year, could buy you a one-bedroom flat near Battersea Park in London, an Aston Martin DB11 or a private island in Panama. Such comparisons show the appeal of Pinot.

Toast: Viña Cono Sur, Ocio, Chile (Master medal-winner, Pinot Masters)

2. Eastern emergence: wine in China

Ask anyone with a longstanding experience of the global drinks trade what the biggest change has been to the wine market since we entered this century, and it’s fair to say that the majority would cite the rise of China and the Far East as a major market for wine. As proof of Asia’s emergence as a driver of growth in the world of wine, we opened a second office in this part of the planet, choosing Hong Kong as a complement to our London base. From this we added to our international magazine with the launch of the drinks business Hong Kong in October 2011 – a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to this part of the fast-developing wine world.

The launch edition came out not long after Hong Kong had scrapped duty on wine, a move completed in February 2008 that had turned the city into a major hub for fine wine, following its established status as a serious consumer of classed-growth claret. Although the surge in fine wine demand in Mainland China – fed in part by merchants in Hong Kong – would see a rapid correction in 2012, following the launch of a government austerity and anti-corruption campaign, the market for drinks in China has since recovered. Such a comeback is based on more solid foundations and more closely reflects actual consumption among the middle and moneyed classes, rather than the excesses of state banquets and gift giving in the corporate world.

Today, wine culture in China is strengthening further, as this nation becomes one of the world’s biggest producers of wine, including fine wine. As proof of the latter, in 2016 Moet-Hennessy launched its first Chinese wine, Ao Yun, with the inaugural 2013 vintage hitting shelves with a US$300 price tag. The red blend has since reached the secondary market, trading for the first time in 2016 on Liv-ex, the fine wine exchange.

Meanwhile, we launched our Global Masters competitions in Hong Kong, welcoming wines and spirits seeking distribution in Asia, but also recognising products made in this part of the world. Among our top performers in these blind tastings have been wines from Japan – a country well known for its appreciation of fine European wines but also now one becoming a serious player in the production of red blends based on Bordeaux grapes, as well as delicate whites made from its native Koshu grape. Wines from China and Japan are finding new markets in the West, as sommeliers and retailers in the UK and US start to seek out these exotic arrivals.

Toast: Helan Mountain Xiao Feng Chardonnay, Ningxia, China, 2015 (medal-winner, Chardonnay Masters – Asia, 2018)

1. Eco-essential: sustainable wine

In summer 2002, when db was closing its first issue, ‘organic’ was something of a dirty word in the wine world. Associated with poor quality products, promoting the agricultural technique implied the juice was rougher, not greener – after all, in the average consumer’s eyes, all wine was ‘natural’. How times have changed. Today, the finest wines in the world are commonly not only produced to organic viticultural standards, but the more demanding and eccentric methods stipulated by the ideas of Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner, known as biodynamics. Not only that, but it is increasingly expected that the entire approach to wine production is ‘sustainable’, the buzzword in drinks today, whatever the scale of operation.

db can confidently state its pioneering role as a champion of green initiatives in all aspects of the drinks trade for more than a decade, starting its promotion of the good work to enhance sustainability in our industry with a ‘green issue’ in January 2007. This highlighted the efforts being made by companies to reduce carbon emissions during transport, improve soil health in viticulture, and advance sustainability more generally, especially through the adoption of lighter packaging. Then, in 2009, we published the trade’s first ever Green List, which was devised to draw attention to the world’s most environmentally friendly personalities, be they at the helm of drinks retailers, associations or producers. Causing a stir in the global trade, it saw us rank those with the greatest influence on furthering green initiatives, featuring the likes of Whole Foods Market chairman John Mackey and climate change activist and Spanish wine industry legend Miguel Torres.

One year later came our launch of the drinks industry’s inaugural Green Awards, designed to celebrate ‘the keenly green in drinks’, which has been running ever since – and is still the only set of industry gongs to reward all that is environmentally sensitive and socially responsible.

Over the past eight years, our awards have expanded to mark the growing importance of sustainability in drinks production and all other aspects of the trade, while also enlarging to celebrate particular aspects to the greening of operations, such as a shift to renewable energy, a move to enhance the efficient use of water, and those investments to augment biodiversity.

Today, the Green Awards comprises as many as 12 different categories, drawn up to reward businesses in a range of fields, along with brands from all sectors of the drinks industry, and, crucially, the personalities who are really making a difference to the sustainability of this trade. The growth of these awards reflects the strengthened importance of being sustainable in the world of drinks – which we believe is not only the biggest overall change in the wine sector since we launched db back in 2002, but also the best.

Toast: Château Maris Dynamic, France, 2015 (Master-medal winner, Organic Masters)

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