2013 will shape future – Jan 11, 2014

By Anthony Gismondi

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Before the new year becomes old, I thought it might be fun to sum up some of the events and people encountered in 2013, and reflect on how they may be shaping the future of wine in 2014 and beyond.

Leta��s start with concrete. Not the sidewalks in front of your house but rather the assorted collection of containers that are becoming fashionable again inside wineries. From concrete eggs to huge conical tanks, concrete is the new or should I say old, tool of choice in many wineries. Concrete is said to breathe much like oak or wooden vats. Italian winemaker Alberto Antonini says it is a much friendlier environment for fruit. Its pockmarked surface, at least at the microscopic level, holds millions of pockets of air that are replenished every time the tank is empty. The oxygen can tame tannins, preserve fruit and improve the texture and mouth feel of the wine, all good things for delicate wines such as the style produced in the Okanagan Valley.

Speaking of containers. Just feel the weight of most wine bottles in the market today. They are almost all lighter. Those big heavy bottles, that suggest to some that the wine is expensive and important, now signal a careless owner who has no interest in his or her winerya��s environmental footprint. Wine served from kegs, bags and super light bottles are all the rage, and the movement will continue. Expect to see the first paper bottles in this market later this year. Case weight for normal glass bottles with liquid is 16.3 kg versus the paper bottle at 10.7 kg. A pallet of 56 cases prepared for shipping is reduced from 907.1 kg to 599.6 kg a�� a weight reduction of 34 per cent and a savings of more than 6,350 kg per truckload of wine shipped. Thata��s a lot of good.

In the highly regulated B.C. wine market, commercial wine auctions remain forbidden. I mean the thought of British Columbians buying and trading wine in auction rooms, well, think of the children. B.C. notwithstanding, the rest of the worlda��s auction houses are facing an unprecedented amount of forged and fake wines that will bring into question the value of all old great bottles in 2014.

Without provenance, it will be harder and harder to sell old bottles of wine. As for new wine, producers worldwide will need to install the latest in security to prevent future counterfeiting and to defend their winea��s origin and provenance throughout its life. If not, there could be no legitimate aftermarket to fuel the cellaring and resale of great wine.

Many are touting the rise of sommeliers, and here in North America it appears their role is growing in leaps and bounds. I would tweak that slightly saying respect for all people who know wine, where it comes from, how it is made, why it works with food, how it is cellared and where you can buy the good stuff is growing. Vancouver has been the Silicon Valley of combined wine knowledge in Canada and many young people here have gone on to make their mark in provincial, national and global wine businesses. If you want to be in the wine business in 2014 you need to acquire more education and grab some valuable experience, selling, buying, tasting and talking about wine.

Locally 2014 will be fraught with uncertainty. There are questions about our ability to export, VQA standards that are becoming dated and there are continued nagging concerns about the damage Cellared in Canada wines are doing to brand Canada nationally and internationally. Interprovincial wines sales remain a pipe dream for local producers still denied access to Alberta, Ontario and Quebec markets. It looks as if there will be a splinter group of B.C. producers who want to be part of a more progressive, quality oriented group of B.C. wineries that will set higher production standards and stricter rules of origin.

Oh, and we will taste some wine along the way. Sounds like my kind of year.

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