What’s in store for the fine wine market this year? We’ve taken a look at the data and found a number of emerging trends that might impact your buying and selling decisions this year. Many of these trends have been gaining ground for a while, but this year they may have particular impact on the market. Here are some of the most notable wine trends we’ve watched emerge:
1. The rise in popularity of light, acidic red wines.
2. Burgundy continues to climb in secondary market value.
3. Biodynamic and vegan wines are increasing in quality and quantity.
4. Climate change is impacting the flavor profile of fine wine around the world.
With so much happening at once, you might not know where to focus your attention. Our guide to 2019’s fine wine market trends will keep you up to date and help you decide which trends are for you.
Trend #1: The Rise of Light, Acidic Red Wines
At a recent cocktail party with friends, I looked around the table to see what types of wine everyone brought. I noticed that nearly everyone who brought wine had chosen to bring a light, acidic red wine, including Oregon Pinot Noir, young Sangiovese, and Beaujolais. I only saw one bottle of bold California Cabernet on the table, and it didn’t seem to be the most popular choice (the bottle was still nearly full a few hours after it was opened). This was surprising because my friends usually like to drink full-bodied, fruit-forward reds, especially during parties. Their tastes seemed to have changed in the last couple of years.
But it’s not just my friends who are moving away from bold, opulent styles of wine in favor of lighter, fresher reds. This is an emerging fine wine market trend that you can expect to see at every level of the wine industry in 2019. Light, acidic red wines have been gradually increasing in popularity over the past few years and are already being featured more prominently on trendy restaurant wine lists and at private tasting events. In fact, the red wines on these lists are often so light that they blur the lines between red and rosé. Bay Grape wine shop owner Stevie Stacionis told the GuildSomm podcast that light-bodied, chillable red wines are currently the most popular request she gets from customers. She once carried a Danilo Marcucci Sangiovese in the shop that was so pale it looked almost pink in color. Sommeliers and casual wine drinkers alike would gush over the wine’s unusual appearance–and they usually ended up buying it.
Why is this trend gaining in popularity? Part of the reason is that more enthusiasts are serving their fine wine with food. Journalist Deborah Parker Wong, who studies wine industry trends, says that food-centric wine consumption is on the rise. Many of today’s wine enthusiasts want to drink wine as part of a meal, rather than on its own. Light-bodied, acidic reds fit into this trend because they pair well with a wide range of foods and are less overwhelming to the palate than bold, full-bodied styles.
If you have a few older, light-bodied red wines in your collection, keep an eye on the secondary market–this year may be the time to sell as demand grows.
Should you invest in more light, acidic red wines this year? It depends on your personal preferences and goals. For collectors, the light-bodied red wine trend means:
- You’ll get a higher return on investment in these wines: Blue-chip Pinot Noir from Burgundy and other quality light-bodied wines made by top producers will likely increase in secondary market value as the demand for them grows.
- Older bottles will become more valuable: Because more collectors are choosing to drink these wines at home, they may seek out older bottles for their complex, mature flavors. If you have a few older, light-bodied red wines in your collection, keep an eye on the secondary market–this year may be the time to sell as demand grows.
- You’ll drink more wine from your collection: This trend is about drinking wine, not just storing it. By investing in and drinking more acidic styles this year, you may diversify your collection and even re-discover wines you forgot you liked.
If you’re interested in this fine wine market trend, seek out blue-chip Pinot Noir from top producers in Burgundy, Sonoma, and Oregon. You should also look for top-quality Beaujolais like 2015 Philippe Pacalet Moulin à Vent. Or, take advantage of two 2019 wine trends at once by investing in grand cruPinot Noir from Burgundy, as this region is also experiencing a boom in popularity.
Trend #2: Burgundy Is Gaining in Value
Burgundy has long been a reliable investment for serious wine collectors, but in 2019, we expect wine from this region to grow in value even further. Twenty-nine Burgundy wines made it onto the latest Liv-ex Power 100 list, which ranks the most valuable wines on the secondary market according to value and volume traded, among other criteria. Last year, 24 Burgundy wines made it onto the list and just 19 were listed the year before that. In addition, 14 out of 20 of the top price performers in 2018 were wines from Burgundy. The iconic producer Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is (unsurprisingly) currently performing very well on the market, but other fine Burgundy producers are also enjoying moments in the spotlight, including Domaine Ponsot, Domaine Leroy, Armand Rousseau, Domaine Coche-Dury, and Mommessin.
To take full advantage of this trend, consider selling a portion of your Burgundy collection while these wines are in particularly high demand.
Burgundy prices are rising both on the secondary market and from some of the most sought-after estates; however, market experts don’t believe that this is a bubble; the quality-to-price ratio for these wines is still healthy despite the increase in trading value. This suggests that there has never been a better time to invest in fine Burgundy. But where should you start? First, look to the top performers by value in 2018, as these wines will likely continue to perform well in the new year:
- Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche
- Maison Leroy Chambertin
- Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays
- Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts
- Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin
- Domaine Coche-Dury Meursault
- Mommessin Clos de Tart
- Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux
- Domaine Leroy Aux Allots Nuits-Saint-Georges
- Domaine Leroy Musigny
Part of the reason Burgundy has been gaining in market value over the past few years is that the top producers in Burgundy are releasing fewer bottles than the best-performing producers in Bordeaux, and this has driven up the secondary market price significantly. To take full advantage of this trend, consider selling a portion of your Burgundy collection while these wines are in particularly high demand. Investing in pre-arrivals may also be a wise choice this year. Generally, pre-arrival prices are still very reasonable, especially when you buy straight from the estate or from trustworthy distributors. While it’s impossible to say whether Burgundy will continue to rise in value over the next few years, by investing in bottles early, you’re more likely to make a profit off your collection within just a few years’ time.
Trend #3: Biodynamic and Vegan Wines Are Becoming More Popular
Years ago, I went to my favorite wine bar with my best friend, who is a longtime vegan. We asked the waiter on staff whether any of the wines on the menu were vegan, and she said, “To be honest, I’m not really sure.” Both of us spent several minutes researching wines on the menu online, trying to find at least one bottle that we could both drink. We finally found a bottle of Château Pontet-Canet, but it was one of only a very small handful of vegan wines that the bar offered. Earlier this year, we returned to the same wine bar and were pleased to see an entire section of the menu dedicated to biodynamic wines, with a large portion of those labeled ‘vegan.’ We had nearly a dozen wines to choose from, and we ended up splitting a fantastic bottle of Château de Beaucastel–this producer recently stopped using animal proteins as fining agents, and they are now one of the best examples of vegan-friendly wines on the market.
The biodynamic trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future–in fact, some experts predict that it may eventually become the most common winemaking technique.
While biodynamic winemaking techniques and vegan wines have been on the rise for a number of years, we predict the trend to continue its strong growth in 2019. Young wine drinkers, in particular, are seeking out more biodynamic and vegan-friendly wines. There are three primary reasons why these wines are more popular than ever on the wine market:
- Veganism and vegetarianism are becoming more common. About five percent of Americans identify as vegetarian and three percent as vegan, and winemakers recognize the need to cater to this audience of wine enthusiasts.
- Biodynamic wines can showcase terroir beautifully. Wine enthusiasts who care about terroir are turning to biodynamic winemakers more often, as these wines are believed to taste more authentic and true to terroir. While interventionist winemaking techniques can, and often do, produce high-quality wines that also showcase terroir, winemakers using biodynamic methods tend to use terroir-driven flavors as a major selling point.
- More wine consumers care about sustainability. Biodynamic winemaking techniques require the use of fewer finite resources, like fossil fuels and water, than vineyards that rely on mechanical irrigation systems and chemical fertilizers.
You may want to invest in more biodynamic or vegan wines this year simply because there are more options available today than in the past. Many of the top producers in the world are beginning to embrace these types of winemaking techniques. That means that it’s much easier now to find biodynamic wines that match your personal preferences and have secondary market value. The biodynamic trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future–in fact, some experts predict that it may eventually become the most common winemaking technique. By embracing this trend now, you’ll not only get to taste some fantastic terroir-driven wines, but you’ll also support sustainability in the process.
Trend #4: Climate Change Will Impact Fine Wine Market Trends
While more wine enthusiasts are seeking out light, less alcoholic styles of red wine, these bottles are also becoming more difficult to find. That’s because climate change is impacting grape ripeness in regions around the world. I recently had a long discussion with one of my wine enthusiast friends about how difficult it has been lately to find low alcohol wines in wine stores. My friend attended a Pinot Noir tasting event at his favorite wine shop this past summer, but was disappointed to find that nearly every bottle had around 13 or 14 percent alcohol by volume; there wasn’t a single wine offered that was less than 12 percent ABV. As a result, many of the wines tasted flabby to him and he went home empty-handed.
We may also see more warm weather grape varieties planted at renowned estates this year.
Experts believe that climate change is at least partially to blame for the increase in production of wines with high alcohol content and lower acidity. California winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz says, “Cooler regions are not cooler regions anymore.” Higher global temperatures are making droughts more common, and this is putting excess water stress on vines during the summer. Moreover, lack of rain and cooling winds make it difficult for grapes to develop enough acidity to balance out the high alcohol content in these wines, making them taste a bit too fat on the palate. You’ll especially notice this change in wines that normally have higher acidities, such as Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and white Burgundy.
We may also see more warm weather grape varieties planted at renowned estates this year. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Tannat fare better in hot weather, and while these wines may not be exceptionally acidic, they will retain acidity better than hin-skinned varieties that rely on cooler conditions to thrive. Expect to see more wines produced with these five varieties over the next few years, especially in regions that are seeing consistently warmer temperatures than usual.
What Do These Fine Wine Market Trends Mean for Collectors?
How will 2019’s fine wine market trends influence your wine buying habits? It all depends on your goals for your collection, as well as what you like to drink. You might invest in wines and styles that are currently popular, or–if you don’t see the trend sticking around–sell off a few bottles from your collection, taking advantage of their (potentially temporary) increase in popularity. The bottom line is that wine market trends can be difficult to predict, and that’s why you should always invest in wines you enjoy, regardless of their trendiness.
Searching for grand cru Burgundy will help you locate bottles that should increase in value on the secondary market this year.
However, if you are interested in any of the five trends above, the easiest way to incorporate them into your collection is to shop for the best representations of each style online. Here’s how to make the most of the trends in this guide:
- Light, acidic red wines: Seek out wine from regions like Morey-Saint-Denis or Côte de Beaune premier cru, as these two areas in particular have produced the wines that have increased in value the most over the past five years. Virtually any grand cru or premier cru Pinot Noir from Burgundy is a wise choice.
- Burgundy: Searching for grand cru Burgundy will help you locate bottles that should increase in value on the secondary market this year. Or, if you’re looking for wine to enjoy at home, take a look at Burgundy’s best vintages. You’ll find wines that are worth a great deal on the secondary market, but you’ll also find some lesser-known gems like 2014 Domaine Trapet Père et Fils Gevry Chambertin L’Ostrea and 2015 Domaine de la Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d’Or.
- Biodynamic wine: Producers like Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Château Pontet-Canet, Château de Beaucastel, and Maison M. Chapoutier all make fine examples of minimal interventionist and biodynamic wines that you should consider adding to your collection this year.
Online wine shopping makes the process of seeking out specific wines and producers simple; you can easily narrow your search results down to find the highest-rated bottles to add to your collection or to experiment with a few wine trends that you aren’t yet sure about. You can also use online marketplaces to sell any wine that’s been sitting in your cellar for the past few years–selling off a few bottles of top-tier Burgundy or any unusual light, acidic reds in your collection may be a good way to take advantage of the latest trends in the wine world. Whether you’re looking to do more buying or selling, embracing new wine trends helps you evolve as a collector and diversify your collection, ensuring that your cache of wine is constantly evolving alongside your tastes.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.