Montalcino - 28-12-2017
According to top distributors like Meregalli, Proposta Vini, Les Caves de Pyrene, Sarzi Amadè and Cuzziol, the 2018 wine trends in Italy are more and more bubbles, niche, organic and local wines. Bubbles, of course, especially local, wines from small winemakers are more sought after (under 25 euros on the shelf), and younger and younger consumers. Consumers are increasingly informed and knowledgeable, prefer organic wines and tastings by the glass, which is an increasingly widespread practice that restaurateurs appreciate. This is the summary of what the most significant wine distributors in Italy expect, as told to WineNews, for the coming year. There is no big news, according to Meregalli, Proposta Vini, Les Caves de Pyrene, Sarzi Amadè and Cuzziol, but a certain continuity in the trends that have gradually developed over the past few years. There is, however, one exception, rosé, which could finally be appreciated in Italy in 2018 following its howling success abroad, while up until now, here it in Italy it has been merely mentioned. For several years now, consumers have been rediscovering traditional grape varieties. Thanks to the immense heritage of the native Italian species, the universal attention to what we consume, and consequently a preference for local products (more controlled), from now on, people who approach wine, will do so looking around, curious to find out what else “Vigneto Italia” has to offer locally, apart from the usual famous international vines. “Italy and its regional wines are gaining ground, and thanks to Franciacorta, the local bubble market has also opened up in Italy”, said Marcello Meregalli, head of the Meregalli Group, Italian leader in the distribution of top wine brands, including Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia), Argiolas, Ciacci Piccolomini D’Aragona and Bollinger, like those from Etna that are doing very well, even if we were hesitant”. Luca Cuzziol, head of the Cuzziol company that distributes fine wines, together with his brothers, also agrees, and whose company is seeing a great increase in requests for wines linked to the history of the territory. “The tourist is also discovering the extraordinary regional, and even “town” variety that characterizes Italy. Giampaolo Girardi from Proposta Vini, a Trentino retailer who is particularly attentive to the uniqueness of the different territories - like the Germans - while the Americans, Canadians and Russians will choose the usual famous ones, such as Brunello, Barolo and Amarone. This change in demand and attention, however, is catching many restaurants unprepared and that have insufficient wine lists. Even the hotel schools do not train enough; culture is still lacking, in the ability to be true ambassadors of wine and its changes”. Christian Bucci of Les Caves de Pyrene, distributor specialized in small winemakers and natural wines, notes a decisive increase in interest towards traditional vines and a decrease in the Bordeaux blends, and Alessandro Sarzi Amadè goes even further, “out of 10 requests 9 are for indigenous wines searching for authenticity and uniqueness. International vines are almost banned on principle”. Top of Form The ever-increasing interest in organic wines will continue, driven by an increased awareness in healthy eating. “a paradigm shift”, to all intents and purposes, according to Girardi, “which turns into a common reaction, like smoking, also with wine”. “Less chemistry in production processes. Fewer sulphites. But biodynamic wines are too special” was Meregalli’s comment. Les Caves does not even consider this problem since 98% of the wines in the catalog are natural, biodynamic or organic. Cuzziol confirms the positive trend, which does not stop at wine “but goes as far as looking for sustainable companies even in the countryside”, while Sarzi Amadè warns that often “the green stamp is no longer enough, because the consumer has become skeptical, due to certain scams, and today only buys after having thoroughly studied the company”. Going farther into the glass, what type of wine will be most requested? Does this rediscovery of rosés that is conquering the world market also include Italy? The answer is no, at least it not significant quantities, but in 2018 the situation could change. The leader on the Italian wine market will remain bubbles, and they will be more and more local. “An experimental boost (local) that starts from the market, rather than from producer”, stated Bucci, driven by the success that the classical methods are having in Italy. “Trento Doc is better than Franciacorta”, said Meregalli, who sees a certain movement in rosés, “ 30-40%, but on infinitesimal numbers: we start at 1% that becomes 1.5%”. According to Cuzziol, in general, white wines are toppling red wines, both in the vineyard and in the glass, due also to the increase in temperatures. This is why he believes the “ rosé” market could develop a lot in the future, since they are considered right in the middle”. Proposta Vini identifies climate for positioning on the rosé market. They are mainly consumed in the summer, unlike bubbles, including, precisely, those from “traditional Italian vines, which have all the qualities”, according to Girardi, “to be a good sparkling wine base: acidity and structure”. Following sparkling wines from local grapes, another small revolution is emerging, which is the attention that is gradually shifting from the great classics to the small winemakers. The cause, said Sarzi Amadè, is twofold, “increase in prices and inflation of certain wines and areas have triggered the search for alternative products”. According to Cuzziol, who stated, “the market was very homogeneous before, while now it is splitting in two - the big names are still doing well, they are a guarantee, but the most dynamic wines are looking for smaller producers”. Small producers “who are themselves becoming the new brands, like Walter Massa or Marisa Cuomo”, Girardi said. “The big brands cover about 50% of the market. The rest is research”, commented Meregalli, “where the wine bar gives advice to the enthusiast. If the best wines want to keep their numbers, they have to invest in large scale distribution and the online market”. Les Caves in this case, is in its element, “we are a distributor that does not chase after trends or the big wine names. We have always proposed wines that please us and our customers, who follow us precisely for this reason”. A choice that often rewards small and young winemakers. Tastes are changing, how will customers change? According to Cuzziol, “consumers will be younger and more informed. Millennials in particular are more knowledgeable and independent in their choices, they interpret the product personally and don’t follow trends too much”. “There is more curiosity, especially among young people”, agreed Cuzziol, “because before customers were more conservative. 10-15 years ago, when the wine fashion exploded, people talked about it superficially. Today those interested in wine are more aware, informed and attentive. Internet helps, but also more education and training about nutrition do, too”. In the case of Les Caves, it is the distributor’s philosophy that attracts the younger generations, “we share a vision without those cultural superstructures that have pushed away so many people from wine with an “I do not understand anything” attitude. We have many producers under the age of 45, but even the restaurateurs are young. Probably the style of wine we offer is different and is appreciated more by the younger than by the older generations, who are having a harder time”. But not only are millennials changing their approaches, even the older generations are undergoing an interesting metamorphosis. “A sort of “moral limit” is being imposed on top spenders. There are certainly still occasions where we drink high quality wines”, said Meregalli, “but now we are focusing on uniqueness, it is no longer just the luxury bottle but also the most sought after bottle, even under 25 euros”. Top of Form Bottom of Form As far as prices go, the trend is downward. three out of five distributors say the most requested bottles are around 10 euros (price excluding VAT, to which restaurant and wine shop markups must be added). “The most sold bottles cost 10 euros and a few cents”, said Cuzziol, “both for restaurants and for wine bars. Bottles from 30 euros upwards go only to high-end restaurants (which are fewer and fewer) or to regionalized restaurants where tourists seeking local wines go, even at a higher cost”. Global demands of Langa and Barolo have increased, according to Sarzi Amadè, “and consequently their prices. But despite this, consumption has increased, together with interest for less known areas. Our most successful price range is between 15 and 20 euros, which becomes 25-30 euros on the shelf. The movements of the most important wines, however, are calculated with a dropper”. Meregalli expects the trend to be the same as 2016. “Ho.re.ca. prices under 10 euros will be good. The medium-luxury range from 25 to 50 euros will suffer, while true luxury will always do well”. Bucci of Les Caves, on the other hand, is counting on a 6-year price stability trend at 11 euros per bottle, excluding Burgundy, whose prices have increased tenfold so the distributor has replaced them with t Jura wines from a “neighboring area with excellent young productions and not the exorbitant prices of their well-known neighbors”. After the “who” and the “what”, let’s move on to the “how” trends. Consumption by the glass? Vertical? Large formats? It is unanimously agreed that by now wine by the glass has not only been established, but has become a resource for wine tasting players, on both sides of the counter. “An inevitable step in view of the drop in consumption”, according to Sarzi Amadè, “and it is made possible thanks to the tools we have available today, like Coravin”, adds Meregalli. According to Les Caves, the most positive aspects for consumers are no longer having to compromise between dining and access to different pairings and for restaurateurs increase in margin and updating the cellars. Cuzziol instead, notes a certain “inconsistency between the wine list and the wines by the glass”, while some hope for improvement in the new year. “Unfortunately, 60% of the wine is not served in the bottle, confirming the lack of competence still in the field”, which is Proposta Vini’s experience. There are opposite opinions on the demand for large and vertical formats. Magnums are increasing their market share, according to both Meregalli (”they are bought for practicality and effectiveness, rather than chauvinism”), and Girardi di Proposta Vini. The considerations of the other distributors are negative. According to Les Caves, a sort of mental block is continuing, which, on the contrary, according to Cuzziol, does not exist abroad, and in fact, they are expanding. Sarzi Amadè also confirms that “it remains a niche market, chosen more as a gift idea than for self-consumption”. The demand for verticals is also experiencing two opposing developments. On the one hand, there is a professional sector that continues to invest in us (”above all the wine shops that organize tastings and high level restaurants”, said Sarzi Amadè) as well as an expanding wine tourism sector (”especially in the great wine regions, such as Tuscany, Veneto and Piedmont”, explains Cuzziol). On the other hand, however, it is encountering a certain difficulty, due above all to the huge investment it requires. “The root of the problem”, according to Les Caves, “is the restaurant, rather than a lack of demand from the consumer”. Meregalli totally confirms this Analysis, since verticals are “an index of the economic power of a winery. they are interesting because of the local products and wine shops, but they are becoming less and less because the warehouse has high costs and the cellars of the restaurants are less and less full. For us distributors this means that we will have to work more and more on 1-2 bottles, rather than crates, which is a return to the ’80s, when “everything for everyone “was the motto”.
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