A new year of wines to anticipate 

What do we have to look forward to in 2014? Quite a bit, I think. Moderate alcohol, more acid, less body, and lighter and brighter wines have been attracting more attention for a while. But what I’ve noticed is that within this milieu, a wider spectrum of grapes is being used.

In the past few years, lesser known varieties have increasingly popped up in the Bay Area. Frappato from Sicily, Austria’s rotgipfler and cinsault — which has Mediterranean origins — are not as esoteric as they were when Mayor Ed Lee first came into office. With grapes such as teran from Eastern Europe and grolleau from France’s Loire Valley making their way into wine bars, shops and restaurants, the flavor palette available to us continues to expand.

This is true in California’s vineyards as well. A decade ago, many local winemakers would not have ever thought they’d be making wines from valdiguié, picpoul or trousseau. Now, the good folks at Broc Cellars, Jolie Laide and company are doing just that with impressive results. I expect this trend will continue, though not necessarily at the expense of the old standbys.

Speaking of which, pinot noir is as popular as ever. So is chardonnay; however, I’ve been noticing more stylistic variations. Besides unoaked versions like Tolosa’s “No Oak,” which is fairly priced at $21, Kevin Kelley, the mastermind at Salinia, is likely to inspire others to make an oxidized-style chardonnay with his magnificent Saint-Marigold ’07 from the Heintz Vineyard. At $54 for a 500-milliliter bottle, it is not cheap, but it is worth every penny. I think there will continue to be a broadening of the way chardonnay is made in the near future, rekindling the interest of those who swore off the grape when it seemed like many tasted alike.

It is not hard to see why Kelley was inspired to craft his Jura-style white as the wines from Eastern France (the Jura, Savoie and Bugey) have been hip for a few years. I don’t see this ending any time soon – I keep hearing about more locals working with trousseau, which reigns in Savoie - though if for no other reason than low quantities, there is only a slim chance you’ll see any floor-stacked. However, the production methods employed here have undoubtedly influenced other winemakers, particularly in California.

It seems as if the merlot-hating period is over. More people have been asking about it and while I haven’t tried any outside of Bordeaux that have knocked off the proverbial socks, the curiosity is there. Cabernet franc and semillon, two other Bordeaux grapes, are making a good case for their rightful place in California’s vineyards and I’m hopeful there will be more to come in our way in 2014. Instead of being vinified into a bigger wine that is indistinct from cabernet sauvignon, or in some cases merlot, Lang & Reed and Mossik, to name two, have taken their cues from Chinon without sacrificing fruit.

I’ve written about this a bit in the last few weeks but just to restate, non-dosage sparkling wines are more widely available, be it from Champagne, Cava or elsewhere. The thirst for drier bubbles only seems to be on the rise, so expect to see more extra bruts and brut-nature labels on the market, especially in the second half of the year.

These are just some of the trends to watch and there are bound to be others that will creep up over the next 12 months. I hope 2014 has already gotten off to a good start for all and that there are many delicious glasses of wine in the coming months.

I’ve written about this a bit in the last few weeks but just to restate, non-dosage sparkling wines are more widely available, be it from Champagne, Cava or elsewhere. The thirst for drier bubbles only seems to be on the rise, so expect to see more extra bruts and brut-nature labels on the market, especially in the second half of the year.

These are just some of the trends to watch and there are bound to be others that will creep up over the next 12 months. I hope 2014 has already gotten off to a good start for all and that there are many delicious glasses of wine in the coming months.

Pamela S. Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.

About The Author

Pamela S. Busch

Bio:
Pamela Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.
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