Our mates at Great Domaines, well-known South African wine experts (and the crowd who import a number of phenomenal and special wines from overseas) recently shared their views on what we can expect on the wine front in 2022. With many in the CN&CO network being avid wine lovers, we thought that you’d find the information interesting – and useful – as you stock up for the year ahead ….

1.    A focus on lesser-known grapes and wine regions
Wines produced from grape varietals you may not have even heard of are on the rise. Sadie Family Wines is one such producer here on home soil that is investing in the future (due to the impact of climate change) with the planting of varietals on the west coast like Alicante Bouchet, Agiorghitiko, Assyrtiko, Pontac, Tinta Amarella, Tinta Barocca and Bastardo. The consumer market in the US has witnessed a rise in the demand for wines from Italian regions like Sicily and Alto Adige as people are looking for new discoveries. Furthermore, as the wines from the more ‘classic’ regions are becoming less and less affordable, consumers are looking to the wings rather than centre stage for their next purchase as the price to quality ratio is very favourable. 

2.    Premiumisation 
This is not necessarily a new concept, but the trend has only become more entrenched over the past two years and around the world: wine drinkers are trading down in volume and trading up in quality. During lockdown, consumers became more engaged and exploratory and part of the reason is that no one could eat out and order off a wine list. Here at home, the ban on the sale and movement of alcohol forced many people to dip into their stash of special wines they may have been planning to hold onto. As a direct result, new practices have taken shape and how one looks at the wines in their cellar/collection. Indeed, the more premium wine category is currently one of the main beneficiaries of this new trend.

3.    Mindful drinking
Many wine consumers are thinking more about what is inside the bottle before buying it. The younger generation especially are looking at what else goes into a wine other than grapes because it’s all going into their bodies after all. The other interesting development has been the subject of how sustainably a wine was produced (i.e. what impact has the production of a certain wine had on the environment). To this end, many people are drinking less (or the same as before) but better, and in addition to this they are choosing wines and brands which have more respect for our environment (this implies not only to what practices are followed in the vineyard but also to packaging).

4.    Stand aside, bubbly coming through 
Thanks to long periods of hard lockdown over the past two years, large scale social gatherings and celebratory occasions have been a thing of memory. One would therefore have expected that the sales of sparkling wine to take a nosedive, but quite the opposite has happened. Bubbly drinkers have kept the hard line to bottles of sparkling wine intact and one of our champagne Houses, Pol Roger, testifies to this trend with its flagship Réserve Brut NV available on allocation only in 2022. Bubbly is no longer seen as a drink reserved for special occasions, but one to savour in any moment and with food. 

5.    Reds you can enjoy chilled 
In South Africa we often need to slightly chill our red wine as our room temperature is often too high by European standards. But this practice of serving wine at the correct temperature has taken on an additional layer with a rise in demand for red wines with lower/softer tannins which often benefit from being drunk slightly cooler. We are talking about the likes of Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir from Beaujolais, Barbera from Piedmont, Grenache Noir and Cinsault just to name just a few.

6.    Versatile Rosé
Rosé continues to pop up every year as part of a trend and it’s only becoming more popular as quality increases. Sweet and clawing rosé is a thing of the past. In terms of the source of the most consumed rosé, Provence still leads the way followed by Languedoc and then a smattering of Italian wines. If you know where to look, there are some excellent South African rosés being made at the moment. 

7.    Prices are going up
While not something anyone wants to see, a rise in the price of many wines is unfortunately a reality as many producers across the globe continue to feel the impact of climate change. Spring frosts followed by heavy rainfalls in some regions, flooding and wildfires devastating vineyards in other regions, these events are resulting in significant losses for producers. Where demand is still high for the wines, but supply is down, prices go up. In addition, due to the impact of COVID-19, the entire supply chain has been affected which has also resulted in additional costs which need to be recouped.