Wine Experts Share Their Insights For 2018

What does 2018 hold for the world of wine? Industry insiders at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair share their insights.

2018 heralds winds of change across the global wine landscape. According to statistics obtained from various sources, Asia Pacific is the third largest wine consumer market after Europe and the Americas with sales of about 644 million cases yearly. The number is set to rise. Between 2015 and 2020, the sale of wine in Asia is expected to grow by five to seven per cent per annum in both volume and value, in contrast to falling sales in Europe and slow growth in the US.

In other words, the limelight will mostly be on Asia, which is poised to lead the pack in sniffing out the next big quaff. At last year’s Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, leading critics, tastemakers and Masters of Wine shared their insights and forecasts, offering aficionados and casual enthusiasts alike a foretaste of newer and relatively undiscovered pours.

More Bubblies

At the Wine Industry Conference held during the wine fair, editor-in-chief of The Drinks Business Patrick Schmitt MW noted that the global market for champagne and sparkling wine is just over 225 million cases. Of these, prosecco comprises 12 per cent; champagne less than 10 per cent; cava constitutes about eight per cent; Asti occupies about two per cent, while the rest of global sparkling wine makes up the remaining category.

Industry experts at Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair share some insights

Prosecco will however remain the leading bubbly, driven mostly by millennials who like the fun, approachable (and not to mention less prohibitive) image of the wine. Promising options include offerings from producers such as Nino Franco and Col Vetoraz. Chandon Brut Classic, made using traditional champagne methods of production, is also a highly attractive sparkle that offers plenty of bang for the buck.

Natural Wine

Following orange or amber wine and biodynamic wine, natural wine seems to be the latest and trendiest buzzword. But it is not without reason that drinkers are shifting their attention to this new breed of libation made with minimal technological intervention and no chemicals— the natural wine movement reflects and grows in tandem with the broader trend of diners’ concern with ethical eating, soothing comforts, wellness, health, and being ‘involved’, observes Sarah Abbott MW.

Tastemakers and Masters of Wine tasting the new pours at the Hong Kong International Wines & Spirits Fair

“Leading restaurants in the UK list organic, biodynamic and amber wine on the menus. The demand is being driven by consumers especially where food safety and unadulterated food products are a concern,” she says, adding that even China might one day produce such wines, given the level of technical expertise already available to Chinese wine producers. Here in Singapore, Wine RVLT on Carpenter Street is a shrine to natural wine, offering a smorgasbord of choices from various countries and regions. There is no menu, so ask founders Ian Lim and Alvin Gho for their recommendations.

Asian Wines

Once seen as little more than novelty, Asian wine is fast gaining respect and traction among wine critics and connoisseurs. China has shaken off the image as a country that drinks its wine with coke and is proving itself a force to be reckoned with on the international wine circuit. Ningxia alone, home to almost 100 wineries, is where French conglomerates Moet & Chandon and Pernod Ricard are making wines. Ao Yun, Moet Hennessy’s latest venture that comes out of Yunnan with a volume of just 2,000 cases, commands a staggering $400 a bottle.

A Japanese vineyard in Koshu City, Chateau Mercian Mariko

Japan and Thailand too, are putting out some award-winning bottles. At the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition, Asoke Valley Winery, Siam Winery, Chateau Mercian, and Hokkaido Wine each bagged trophies under the Asian food and wine pairing category. “Thailand wines are becoming really sophisticated,” notes judging panel chair Debra Meiburg MW, adding that the future is bright for Asian wines.

Emerging Regions, Varieties and Producers

Expect to see more quality pours from emerging regions in both European and non-European countries, says Jeannie Cho Lee MW.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Georgia, Greece, Austria, and Croatia are worth exploring, especially for well-crafted examples made from respective indigenous varieties. Movia in Slovenia, which owns 22 hectares of vines on both the Slovenian and Italian side of the border, makes an attractive Exto Gredic from 100 per cent Friulano, which is aged in 3,000 litre Slovenian oak vats for a year before bottling. The result: A highly aromatic wine possessing bright acidity and good length, with aromas and flavours that evoke gooseberry, green pepper and dried herbs.

The cellar at Chateau Mercian, a Japanese vineyard and wine museum in Koshu City Japan

Domaine Mee Godard is also a producer to watch—established in February 2013 in Beaujolais by French-Korean Mee Godard, the estate comprises 6.1 hectares of organically farmed 65-year-old vines. Godard makes her wine exclusively with Gamay, which is aged in three different types of oak barrels for 14 months.

This was first published in Wine & Dine’s Jan/Feb 2018 issue – Embracing Clean & Green, ‘Wine Trend’

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