Over the past 12 months our drinking horizons widened to include lesser-known varietals, organic wines and alcoholic seltzers. Here are some of the key trends.
What went pop in 2020?
They may have been around for hundreds of years, but organic wines are enjoying a resurgence in Australia – thanks, in part, to a growing interest in sustainable farming. Several Australian winemakers, such as Cullen Wines, Paxton, Frankland Estate and Jacob’s Creek, offer organic wines as part of their portfolios. Organic grapes are typically grown without the use of harmful fertilisers and pesticides. James Vercoe, Sourcing Manager (Wine) at Coles, says the enthusiasm for organic wine reflects a growing concern for the environment in Australia. “Consumers are now more open to the idea of drinking wine which doesn’t rely on chemical spraying, but is still full-flavoured and delicious,” he says.
These summertime drinks, already popular in the US, reached our shores in 2020 and found an immediate following. Usually made with a base of soda or mineral water and flavoured with fruit, seltzers are refreshing. Gin, vodka and tequila varieties are also available. A leading Australian-made seltzer is Somma, made from water drawn from an extinct volcano in Victoria. Somma is available in two flavours: cucumber and mint and watermelon and lime. It is sugar-free, [KM1] free from artificial colours and flavourings and 3.5% alcohol by volume. Other alcoholic seltzers include Good Tides, FELLR, White Claw and Quincy.
Australia’s love affair with gin continued throughout 2020 with familiar brand such as Gordons, Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray all performing strongly. Home-grown gins also proved a hit with Australian distillers experimenting with local botanicals like native juniper, Kakadu plum and lilly pilly. There are now more than 500 Australian gins on the market. Many, including the award-winning Four Pillars, which was recently named the world’s leading gin producer for the second year in a row, Adelaide Hills Distillery and Antipodes, now offer gins flavoured with pink or red fruits and known as Pink Gin. Gins flavoured with orange, limes and rhubarb are also available – a perfect choice for summer.
Approachable, food-friendly wines
While familiar styles such as sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon still dominate the Australian wine market, lesser-known European varietals are making inroads. According to James Vercoe, people are now looking for lighter, food-friendly wines – and also want to try new things. Two varietals in particular have enjoyed a surge in popularity: fiano (an ancient white wine variety from southern Italy and Sicily) and tempranillo (a full-bodied red variety from Spain). “Australian wine makers are now producing some excellent tempranillos and fianos,” he says. “I’d recommend both tempranillo and fiano if you are looking for medium- to lighter-bodied drinkable reds and whites.”
What will sparkle in 2021?
The hot tip for next year is pink prosecco. Already a huge hit in the UK and other parts of Europe, prosecco rose is tipped to be wildly popular with younger Australian drinkers. Several local winemakers are already gearing up for the pink wave.
Coles Liquor supports the responsible enjoyment of alcohol. We support DrinkWise, an independent not-for-profit organisation with the primary focus of helping to bring about a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia.