January 10, 2008


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Wishes and predictions
Where will the hot terrior be in 2008?
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

Another new year, a clean slate.

A new beginning. A year older. Older vintages progress. Younger ones are born. What’s going to be hot in 2008? What’s going to fall from grace? These are some trends, wishes and predictions for wine over the coming year.

Pinot noir will be replaced as the hot grape by syrah, especially in California. Pinot is delicious, but it’s finicky. It has a tough backbone. It demands the perfect soil conditions — lots of calcium, which translates into limestone. Syrah or shiraz is a more forgiving grape with a sunnier disposition. It conjures up summertime afternoons at the beach. The top of a mountain overlooking a great valley. It’s spicy and smoky like a beautiful dark-haired dancer. It pairs with casual food — tapas, olives, shellfish, pizza and summer fruits — easily and naturally.

Pinot noir on the other hand is like going to a formal luncheon with your maiden aunt and you have to eat creamed stuff in a puff pastry and put your napkin on your lap. Like your aunt, pinot brooks no nonsense, and while it does have a sense of humor, it merely chuckles and never guffaws. However, it can be profound and moving, like your first opera, but it takes concentration and discipline. And some movie will come out, set in Provence, and the characters will visit an ancient vineyards and the romantic notion of peasant wine, raised and harvested exactly the same way the Greeks did it 2,500 years earlier, will sweep the wine world and syrah will have its day. Then prices will go up and wine people will look elsewhere for bargains. But not before we see a golden age of syrah from California’s Central Coast.

And when syrah prices rise wine people will turn to lesser-known regions and grapes. Puglia, in Italy’s heel, produces some 25 different grape varietals. And state stores stock quite a few — primitivo, fiano-greco, molinara, negrara and corvina all offer the wine-drinker an escape from the pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio and chardonnay wine rut we all fall into.

Malbec will continue its growth in capturing a larger share of the wine market. As more and more is planted and sold, a few great malbec producers will emerge offering the Argentine equivalent of premier and grand crus. These will be deep and rich, and quite capable of long ageing. They’ll taste layered and spicy with hints of chocolate and currant. And, unfortunately, they’ll be expensive.

The other South American varietal that will get bigger this year will be Chilean merlot. While not new, this wine offers an inexpensive choice for very good to moderately great wine. Will it ever reach parity with St. Emilion? Probably not, but the fresh, fruity-tasting wine with delicate cherry hints should grace your table in ’08 because it’s delicious and inexpensive.

In the United States look to Missouri, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina and New York to emerge as better appellations. While wine is produced in every state, these second-tier states (after California, Oregon & Washington) are offering some amazing varietals. Marchal Foch, a cold-resistant blending grape, Catawba, which was once the most widely planted grape in the young United States, and Cabernet Franc, the Bordeaux blending grape that’s standing on its own and producing wonderful wines from Illinois to Long Island, offer a glimpse of what’s to come. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s harder to import wine from one state to another — especially when the winery is smaller — than it is to import wine from another continent. So if you’re traveling this year be on the lookout for wines that just aren’t available at home.

Shiraz will continue to be Australia’s signature and most widely exported wine, but look for other non-traditional varietals coming out of Oz. Riesling and Semillon, two soft, delicate and slightly sweet white wines, come to mind. For years conventional wisdom held it was too hot for these wines to flourish Down Under, but the cooler climates of the Riverlands and Margaret River (on the West Coast) proved the naysayers wrong. The trend will have come full circle when we get a decent pinot noir from Australia.

Finally, what I hope for but probably won’t get is more top-shelf wine from Eastern Europe. More Austrian wine, more Hungarian wine, more Romanian wine and more wine from the Crimea in Russia. You rarely see these bottlings, and when you do it’s usually on par with those ubiquitous animal-labeled wines from Australia. I would love to taste the everyday peasant wines of these lesser wine-producing countries as well as the higher-end bottlings. Hopefully someone will specialize in importing Grasa de Cotnari, the wonderful dessert wine from Romania.

1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly

12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
11/8/2007 Candy Corn hangover
11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce