Everyone is swayed by fashion - wine drinkers as much as anyone else. So admit it - wines are often selected on image and hype, in much the same way we choose our clothes or where we go on holidays.
Sauvignon Blanc has become very much last-decade's fashion, and wine explorers (called the ‘early adopters’ in marketing-speak) are looking for the next big white.
Pinot Grigio did have a shot when trendsetters discovered it about ten years ago (whether as gris or grigio), but now it's ‘every day’. So will the next big thing be Arneis, Fiano or Vermentino? The fashion cycle is about 15 years long, so maybe Riesling is overdue for a resurgence? Nobody really knows.
Red wines go through cycles too. Shiraz is the ‘in’ variety right now, especially when made with a splash of Viognier. But with almost every producer joining the ‘me too’ stampede, Shiraz-Viognier is in danger of losing its exclusive status.
The next big red? Let's look to the Italians. While Sangiovese has been around for 25 years in Australia, it has only recently started being noticed. Sangiovese is a medium body wine, offering savoury flavours of dark plums.
Barbera is another Italian variety that has taken a while to find its feet here. It’s an easy-drinking wine, with flavours of cherries and a wide variety of styles - from spicy and rich to smoky and smooth.
The most elusive of the Italian red varieties is Nebbiolo. A viticultural challenge and a winemaking nightmare, Nebbiolo, with aromas of rose petals and poached plums, is often compared with Pinot Noir.
Moving away from Italy, Spain's best known red is Rioja, which is mostly made from Tempranillo. The grape has taken off here, with many excellent examples having intense, focussed flavours that are in no way heavy.
The Bordeaux variety Petit Verdot is also starting to be noticed by Australian drinkers. Petit Verdot is especially interesting as it is the last of the Bordeaux varieties to mature and thrives in warm growing conditions.
Another French variety Durif (also known as Petite Sirah) may be almost extinct in its home near Montpellier, but it has many aficionados in Australia, especially those who like their reds really big.
A final tip - for a light, bright and refreshing red, try Gamay. It’s the grape of Beaujolais and France's ubiquitous light red. With fresh red currant flavours and bright acidity, Gamay could be a winner if you want to stay ahead of the fashion pack.
Back (Reprinted from the "At The Winery" articles by Warwick Adams ©2012)
'The Hair of the Dog' & 'The Peak Alone' are registered trademarks of Belgrave Park Pty Ltd Last updated: 02 Dec 2012