Berry Bros. & Rudd, one of the top wine merchants in the country, have produced a report looking at the future of wine.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE WORLD OF WINE IN 2058 is produced by 4 Masters of Wine and a raft of other experts. This is intended as a serious piece of futurology but contains some very radical, or possibly barmy, ideas.
In the world of volume wine, Berrys believes there are two specific areas set for significant change by 2058:
new producers and climate change.
a). New Horizons
Already the world’s sixth largest wine producer, China is predicted to be the world’s leading producer of volume wine by 2058.
Berrys believes Cabernets and Chardonnays of real promise will be made. With the right soil, low labour costs and soaring domestic demand, China is apparently the future.
b)The changing climate
If global warming persists, many non-traditional wine producing countries given the chance to become real contenders.
Countries which are currently small-scale producers may become more significant. Much of Eastern Europe sits on the same latitude as some of France’s top wine producing regions, so countries like Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia and Poland could become major players, if they can attract investment.
Berrys believes Canada could also grow in importance. Southern Ontario and Southern British Columbia are already home to several large areas of vines, and Berrys predicts it could start to rival its American neighbour by 2058.
In the past year or two, Australia has suffered from very severe droughts, leading to vineyard irrigation being temporarily banned. If this trend continues, supplies of inexpensive Australian wine may soon be a thing of the past. By 2058, Berrys predicts Australia will be too hot and dry to support large areas of vines. It will no longer be known for volume wine and will become a niche producer, concentrating on hand-crafted, terroir-driven, fine wine.
2. BIG BRAND BOOZE
In 2006 Foster’s started sourcing wine for their popular Lindemans brand from South Africa and Chile.
The Berrys’ experts commented: “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.”
Consumers may recognise wine brands (and the flavours associated with them) in the same way they do spirit brands such as Smirnoff. Rather than ordering a glass of Australian Shiraz or Californian Merlot, it could be commonplace to ask for a ‘Lindemans Light’, ‘Waitrose White’ or ‘Rosemount Red’. Grapes will be genetically modified to change a wine’s taste and producers will add artificial flavourings to create a style wanted by consumers.”
Satisfying this growing consumer demand will need wholesale changes in production methods.
By 2058, Berrys predicts vast industrial vineyards could house genetically-modified grape varieties resistant to disease, and genetically altered yeast will improve fermentation and help produce wines with lower alcohol levels.
An increased focus on low calorie lifestyles could entice producers to reduce calorific and alcohol content by modifying the grapes’ genetic structure.
Since vineyards typically take up huge areas of land, Berrys believes genetically modified vines could be grown hydroponically in vast off-shore floating vineyards.
Lightening the load
In 50 years’ time, Berrys believes wine is unlikely to be sold in glass bottles. Using glass will be unrealistic due to costs, waste, and environmental impact of wine. Even with lightweight bottles, Berrys believes the cost and environmental impact of shipping pre-bottled wine around the world will be too high. So we’re likely to see ‘wine tankers’ crossing our oceans. Bulk shipments of wine could arrive, before being put into plastic or reinforced cardboard containers in a bid to reduce environmental emissions and create a domestic bottling industry. This would make things a bit tricky for personalised labels!
Berrys believes China has all the essential ingredients to make fine wine to rival the best of Bordeaux.
While most Chinese current wines seem alien to Western palates (ie horrid), a new breed of Chinese winemaker, backed by foreign investment and technical advice, is already trying to change that reputation.
The Indian wine industry is likely to challenge the supremacy of traditional winemaking countries as well.
High local demand and aggressive promotion from the government means more and more ambitious Indians are turning to fine wine as a mark of social standing. Berrys believes India will soon be taken seriously as a fine wine-growing nation.
Rising global demand for fine wines – both for investment and for drinking – and limited availability of First Growth wines from top châteaux means prices will continue to rise inexorably over the next 50 years until fine wine becomes the preserve of the very rich.
Simon Staples, Fine Wine Sales Director at Berry Bros. & Rudd believes: “If values increase by 15% per annum, as they have been doing recently, a case of 2005 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, currently available for £9,200, could be worth just shy of £10 million by 2058.” Seems a better investment than a house at the moment!
I blogged about this in April, but you may not have believed me. 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. There are currently 1,000 vineyards in England across Kent, Hampshire, Essex and Sussex and production in 2006 was just over 3.3 million bottles. 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.
Recent international blind-tasting competitions even saw some English sparkling wines triumphing over the best Champagnes.
Berrys’ experts commented, “If British growers get support from British drinkers and are able to compete on price they may be able to compete with Champagne.”
Berrys believes, if you order a bottle of 2005 Ch. Margaux in 2058 that is corked, it’s unlikely you’ll get the chance to taste it as top restaurants introduce innovative measures to ensure customers receive nothing but the best.
Recent developments in biotechnology have shown honeybees have a finely developed sense of smell. Honeybees trained to recognise particular odours, such as corked wine, and associate that smell with food. When they detect a corked bottle, a trained honeybee’s reaction will be easily picked up by a small detector.
By 2058, every sommelier could have their own personal bee!!