It's never been a better time to be a wine enthusiast. With an ever-expanding volume of information at our fingertips, there are more opportunities to discover, acquire and enjoy a greater diversity of wines than ever before. However, even the savviest wine connoisseurs can find it challenging to stay on top of changes in the industry.

We spoke with the experts — buyers, collectors and sommeliers — to see what they felt would be 2018's most important trends in wine.

Extreme Weather Could Increase Demand for Older Vintages

In 2017, extreme weather events had a significant impact on wine crops around the world, leading to an estimated 8.2% drop in global output and the smallest vintage since 1961.1 Unexpected spring frosts battered grapes in the Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of France, while summer's so-called “Lucifer" heat wave forced Italian wine growers to harvest their grapes early.2, 3 In California, catastrophic wildfires threatened vineyards and left some crops with a smoky taint, while Chilean growers struggled in the face of droughts.4

This could make certain wines from these regions scarcer in the coming years and lead to increased demand for back-catalog vintages. However, Madeline Triffon, Master Sommelier and Director of Events for Michigan-based grocer Plum Market, is less concerned about the impact of this year's California wildfires. She notes that prices for west coast wines are already quite high and unlikely to climb further as a result.

Collectors should be mindful of the long-term effects of a changing climate. For example, as global temperatures rise, alcohol levels in wine are likely to increase. “Looking to build up your cellar with older vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy before alcohol levels start to rise is probably a smart move," says Wendy Stanford, Senior Buyer at

Back-catalog Bordeaux should be a good bet this year, particularly the 2009 and 2010 vintages, which were well received by wine enthusiasts and imported to the U.S. under a favorable exchange rate. Triffon sees similarities in the 2015 and 2016 vintages as well, considering the latter to be particularly age-worthy. Gregg Stephenson, Collector Concierge for, expects Bordeaux prices to ramp up when they arrive in the U.S. as futures for 2015 classified-growth Bordeaux have been extremely strong.

Seek Out Up-and-Coming Regions

Given the potential scarcity of in-demand wines from some of the world's most notable regions, it may be wise to consider alternatives.

Stanford notes that Argentinian wines can make a good substitute for Burgundy and California varietals, and recommends Catena's White Stones and White Bones chardonnays. The varietals are named for the complexion of their terroir: the former is made from grapes grown in soil peppered with limestone-coated river pebbles; the latter is from sandier soil layered with calcareous deposits that resemble bones.5

Stanford also recommends investigating wines from less-familiar locales, such as South Africa, New Zealand's Central Otago region, and Australia, particularly the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Margaret River regions. “[These regions] have a lot of the young, hipster winemakers working organically or biodynamically," she says. In particular, Stanford praises the Australian wines (such as Voyager Estate) for being “elegant" and “accessible," saying that she thinks they will prove to be collectible.

A New Generation of Vintner Emerges in Spain

“Spain is really undergoing a natural renaissance of quality," says Triffon. In 2017, Wine Advocate writer and winner of Spain's National Gastronomy Award for journalism Luis Gutierrez published The New Vignerons. The book profiles 14 of Spain's most interesting viñadores, representing a “new generation of Spanish wine growers."6 In it, Gutierrez shows how they are blending innovative new methods with traditional techniques in order to create uniquely Spanish wines.

Triffon says Spain offers significant value for wine enthusiasts, with the most expensive wines costing less than $200 a bottle. “A great example of that is Macán," she says, “which is a collaboration between Rothschild and Vega Sicilia — it doesn't get more highbrow than that. That's ultra-premium Spanish wine." Macán Clásico can be had for under $50 a bottle, while Macán hovers around $80 according to Triffon.

Take Care of Your Acquisitions

When purchasing and collecting wine, there are a few things you can do to ensure you and your family are able to enjoy it well into the future:

  • Keep a detailed inventory. Capture important details about your wines, such as where and from whom they were purchased and for how much. Keep invoices to document your acquisitions and the amount of tax that may have been paid.
  • Preserve the value of your collection. Take steps to safeguard your wine by making accommodations for proper long-term storage.
  • Don't forget your wine when planning. Your wine collection isn't just something you take pleasure in – it's also an asset. If you have a valuable collection, failing to take this into account when making decisions about your wealth and estate plans can have serious financial consequences.
  • Think about your legacy. If you aren't going to drink your entire collection, what do you want to happen to it when you're gone? Having a well-documented plan in place is essential to ensuring your wishes are carried out properly.
  • Footnotes

    1 "World's Smallest Wine Vintage Since 1961 May Lift Booze Prices," Bloomberg, Rudy Ruitenberg, October 24, 2017

    2 "Spring Freeze Damages French Wine Production," Reuters, April 28, 2017

    3 "Heat wave 'Lucifer' fans forest fires, forces early wine harvest," CBS News, August 8, 2017

    4 "Harvest Report: La Niña Delivers Frost and Flame to Argentina and Chile," Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator, July 7 2017

    5 "White Stones and White Bones: terroir-based Chardonnays from Catena,", November 7, 2014, Accessed: January 22, 2018

    6 "Passion for Spanish Wine: A New Generation of Wine Growers,", Accessed: January 22, 2018

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