Trendspotting at Vinexpo Paris - a retailer's view
Trendspotting is a dangerous game. Everyone wants to be in at the start of the next big thing; but believing the hype can leave you with slow moving stock blocking valuable shelf space. I recently visited Vinexpo Paris to spot the trends that producers and winemakers are backing in 2022.
If you’re not already selling wine in cans, this trend will be hard to avoid. It’s been several years in gestation but what caught my attention was the sheer number of producers offering the format. During the week I found wines of all types, from producers large and small, being offered in cans. The scale of the investment suggests this trend is here to stay. The producers need to make a return so watch out for lots of critics and influencers getting on board.
Convenience is the major selling point for wine in cans, but sustainability comes a close second; they’re cheaper to transport and much simpler to recycle. There were plenty of other sustainable initiatives on show too, from lighter bottles, to capsule alternatives, to recycled labels. The range from Cantina Orsogna was particularly impressive. Their capsules, labelling and packaging is all 'on-trend', and the wines all taste top-drawer. They are a small organic and biodynamic cooperative based in Abruzzo, Italy, currently imported by Ellis Wines / Richmond Wine Agency.
The trend for sustainability goes hand in glove with the trend for lower intervention and natural wines. Most small producers I spoke to are reducing the quantity of sulphites they use. The use of other chemicals is on the wane too – “in organic conversion” was such a common statement that I lost count of how many producers said it. Many enthusiastically explained to me the introduction of animals to their vineyards to help control pests or their use of green manures (whereby grasses and flowers are allowed to grow between the vines before being ploughed back into the earth to enhance the soil).
Orange wines are the poster child for the natural wine movement. Over the past year I have noticed a burgeoning awareness of this 'new' type of wine from our customers. At Wickhams, we currently sell three orange wines (one each from England, Romania, and Uruguay) with modest success – though I won’t be retiring on the profits from orange wines anytime soon. What surprised me at Vinexpo was how broad the selection of orange wines has become. The smaller winemaking countries of eastern Europe all had orange wines – nothing new there – but, unexpectedly, I tasted orange wine from every French and Italian winemaking region, too. If you don’t currently stock an orange wine, it’s worth testing customers appetite for this interesting style.
My last thoughts go to sparkling wine. There are still enormous quantities of prosecco on offer and news of its demise is greatly exaggerated. If you’re looking for an alternative, several Italian producers had sparkling wines made from other indigenous grapes. A personal favourite was Pignoletto, which I find far more exciting than Glera. Or how about Lambrusco? Roberto Cardinale from Cantina Settecani, is an inspiring, optimistic, and relentless Italian who gave me a tour of several Lambrusco producers, confident that its time has come again. I’m not sure if the British consumer is ready, but if you want to join me for the challenge, I’ll put you in touch.