A look at the year ahead for Halifax’s wine scene.
It’s our third annual look at local wine trends, and each year things get more interesting. Innovation increases, new wines with unique packaging and grapes are introduced, and the selection of great wines available in Halifax gets bigger.
Wine consumption in Canada has grown six times that of the world average, and will increase another 20 per cent by 2014. We are now the fifth largest importer of wine by volume in the world, and will soon hit the 14-million case level of consumption.
Traditionally, Halifax has lagged a bit behind the rest of the country, which means we should increase even more here. We are really catching onto the pleasures of good wine in Halifax, and trends from around the world are arriving here sooner than ever. Here are my top 10 predictions for the Halifax wine scene in 2013.
- The younger demographic from ages 21 to 30, known as “millennials,” are spending more and more on wine. As a group, they will soon overtake Generation X. What does this say? When I was in my early 20s, my age group drank beer and rum. Today, the youngest legal drinkers have more sophisticated palates and appreciate wine. Better yet, they are more educated about what they drink.
- The advance of social media in the world of wine will continue. Some examples are QR codes on bottles that take you to websites by scanning them on your phone, and wine producers are adopting social media. Wine is becoming less intimidating, and better yet we are experimenting more because we can find information at the touch of a button. Restaurants like Café Chianti have their wine list on an iPad, making pairing your wines at dinner even more fun.
- We are going to see sparkling wines grow in popularity (here’s hoping our selection of affordable ones in Halifax increases). They are fun and lighter in alcohol. Even more interesting, with the recent rise of a new cocktail culture in our city, you will see sparkling wines used more and more in mixed drinks. Try Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy for great value.
- The “eat local and sustainable” movement has taken hold. Next we will see the “drink local and sustainable” movement. Our own Nova Scotia wineries (and breweries and distilleries) continue to improve, and some of the wines are now world class in quality. We will drink Nova Scotian wines more than ever before. Last year was a turning point with the introduction of the Tidal Bay appellation and the new wave of wine tourism. It’s exciting times for Nova Scotia wines.
- Watch for the best restaurants in Halifax to continue to introduce Enomatic machines (they have the bottles behind glass enclosures). The Bicycle Thief on the Halifax Waterfront has broken out this trend with expensive wines available by the glass. Don’t want to spend $60 on a bottle of Brunello or Amarone? Try a glass for $15 from the Enomatic. These machines allow a wine to keep without spoiling for weeks—not that they last that long at The Bicycle Thief.
- The continued growth of red blends popularized by the Apothic wine craze. When a winemaker blends different varietals well, the sum is better than the individual parts and, better yet, it allows the wineries to use all their different wines with the result being more affordable. Watch for more red blends and the introduction and popularity of more white blends at affordable prices.
- Sweet wines. I remember my friends and I drinking Mateus and Black Tower when we were barely of age. As more young people drink their first glass, we will see sweet reds, off-dry whites and wines like Moscato continue to grow in popularity. These are “gateway” wines for beginner consumers who will eventually move up in quality and price.
- Italy and California continue to grow in popularity. Both of these countries are on a roll. They both produce thousands of great, affordable wines and don’t sacrifice quality, at all levels of production.
- Innovations in packaging and labeling will continue as wineries strive to make their products stand out on the shelf from their competitors. We will see half bottles become more popular at retail and restaurants as experimentation increases.
- Premiumization of wines. Watch the average price of a bottle we purchase increase, driven by both the baby boomers and Generation X.
- We are looking for more quality versus price, and since we appreciate wine and food pairing and special occasions with friends, we will spend more per bottle for a great experience than ever before.
The under-$25 wine review
Kim Crawford 2011 Marlborough Pinot Noir
New Zealand, NSLC, $22.99
This is a wine that could define smooth. It opens with a bit of smoke and cherries, finishes easily with a touch of dryness and a herbal note. Easy to drink, and its lighter weight makes it perfect for a starter red before dinner, or a nice wine to have without food. At almost $23, not a great value but New Zealand pinot noir is never cheap—this is a perfectly quaffable example. Pair with baked Atlantic salmon. 88/100
Carpineto Sploverino Toscano IGT
Italy, NSLC larger stores, $19.99
Want a wine from Italy that actually has a screw cap and makes fun of the traditional Tuscan wine classification system? The rooster on the label is shown sweeping up corks—that is progressive for any Italian winery. Wine itself is made in a modern, drinkable style, with juicy berry characteristics and a nice touch of silky tannins on the finish. This is well balanced and delicious. Fantastic with a combination of veal and pasta. 90/100
80–84: A great sipper, good value.
85–89: Won’t last long, great value.
90–94: Brag to your friends and buy a case—fantastic.
95–100: A classic, run to the store, extremely rare.