Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wine Predictions in Fifty Years: China, Plastic and English Champagne

Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain's oldest independent wine merchant, made several predictions about the state of the wine world in 2058 in its “Future of Wine Report.” Among its many predictions, Berry believes China could one day rival Bordeaux, while England could be a new champagne region in just 50 years.

In the world of volume wine, Berrys believes there are two specific areas set for significant change by 2058:

1. Countries renowned for “new world wine” will alter radically as the effects of climate change are felt.

2. The size of wine “brands” will lead to massive changes in the way wine is produced, packaged and marketed.

Leading the charge in volume wine, predicts Berrys, will be China. Already the world's sixth largest wine producer and number four in terms of area under vine, its not too far-fetched to believe that China could soon be the world’s leading producer of volume wine. Berry believes China will excel in producing Cabernets and Chardonnays, in particular.

"China has the vineyards, but not the technical expertise," agrees Alun Griffiths MW, "however, if good people from wine producing countries think there is opportunity to make wine in China, they will go there and invest."

Berrys also believes that if global warming persists, countries that are currently small scale producers, such as Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland and Canada,

BLEAK FUTURE FOR AUSTRALIA. In recent years, Australia has suffered from severe droughts that have resulted in vineyard irrigation being temporarily banned. If this trend continues, says Berry, supplies of inexpensive Australian wine may soon be a thing of the past.

By 2058, Berrys predicts Australia will be too hot and arid to support large areas of vine. It will no longer be renowned for volume wine and will become, instead, a niche producer, concentrating on hand-crafted, terroir-driven, fine wine.

WINE BECOMES (EVEN MORE) COMMERCIALIZED. Berry experts believe big brand, blended wines with grapes from around the world could soon replace region-specific varietals.

"By 2058, big brand wine could be grape or blend specific, rather than from a particular country. Grapes will be gathered from all over the world and blended to suit consumers' tastes."

They also believe spirits companies and supermarkets will own most of the world’s wine brands by 2058.

GLASS BOTTLES NO LONGER. In 50 years' time, Berry believes wine is unlikely to be sold in glass bottles as retailers and importers try to cut costs, waste, and reduce the environmental impact of wine being shipped around the globe. Instead, wine will be packaged in plastic or reinforced cardboard containers.

CHINA AND ENGLAND, UNRIVALED WINE REGIONS? While Berry thinks China is set to become a leading producer of volume wine, they also think China has all the essential ingredients to rival the best of Bordeaux.

“It is entirely conceivable that, in such a vast country, there will be pockets of land with a terroir and micro-climate well suited to the production of top quality wines," said Jasper Morris MW.

Thanks in part to warmer temperatures (2007 was the second warmest year in the UK in 356 years), more and more English land is becoming suitable for wine production. Berrys believes the amount of English farmland devoted to wine production may rival that of France by 2058.

French Champagne producers such as Louis Roederer have been looking at the chalky soil of the South Downs with interest, believing it offers them a great opportunity to produce sparkling wines similar to Champagne itself.