2018 in Australian Adult Beverages: What’s On The Cards?
Well, another trip around the sun is done and dusted, and what a trip it’s been! We’ve seen some outstanding Australian vino over 2017, and excitingly have had a few months wading into the dizzying world of Australian craft spirits - it’s been a crazy ride.
It seems like only yesterday we were gazing into the crystal ball to see what 2017 might hold. It’s hard to believe that was a year ago. We’re all a little older now, if not a little wiser.
Looking ahead to 2018, what can we expect in the way of trends for adult beverages in this country? Well, here’s where we think the wind is blowing…
Reds That Are Breezy, not Boozy
The reputation of Aussie reds has traditionally been one of the ball-busting brute force, reds armed with big fruit and big booze. Oh, how times have changed. The reds wines that we are drinking more and more of are lighter on their feet with many producers picking their red grapes earlier looking for freshness and for immediate drinkability.
We’ve begun to see some reds released at startlingly low alcohols. From the extreme of Anton Van Klopper’s 2017 Lucy Margaux Gamay which rocks in at a featherweight 9.5% ABV(!), to an increasingly common 11% - 12.5% for red wines from across the country, even from the Barossa and McLaren Vale - the heartlands of ‘heat’.
It’s clear that people are leaving the 15% monster reds of yore. They want two glasses, not one. They want to be able to split a bottle between friends over lunch and drive home. They want frisky red wines that can be drunk all year round, not just reds that demand a slab of beef and a warming fire to be enjoyed.
As more producers workout how to pack in flavour without the jet fuel we are going to see more and more of these lighter reds over the next year. And we say ‘Huzzah’ to that!
Pet-Nats Take Over The World (well, maybe not, but definitely get better)
The Petillant-Naturel horse has bolted over the last 12 months and it doesn’t look like pulling up. Never before have small producers had the ability to produce their fizzy wines in-house with this sort of latitude. It’s a long, expensive job producing traditional method sparkling (ala Champagne) but with a Pet-Nat, the turn around is quick and the possibilities are endless.
It’s only been a few years now that Pet-Nats have been on the Australian scene, but we are already seeing an evolution in style. Many producers are opting to hand disgorge their Pet-Nats, ‘cleaning them up’, so to speak. Getting rid of the chewy, yeasty lees that makes these spritzy sippers a little confronting to the uninitiated.
Also, as with all things, practice makes perfect. And the dark art of nailing a Pet-Nat is becoming brighter every vintage. In 2018, expect a veritable flood of the crazy sparkling creations before the year is out.
Pinot Gris’s Time to Shine
It’s been the ‘other choice’ of Sauv Blanc drinkers for years, but there’s way more than meets the eye to the Pinot Gris variety. We’ve seen a flock of producers starting to push the envelope with Gris with great results.
It’s a variety that LOVES some skin contact and whole bunch ferment. Just take a look at Franco D’Anna’s version at Hoddles Creek or Bryan Martin’s rosy coloured offering under his Ravensworth label for proof what his loveable grape can do.
And it can handle some barrel work too. If you’ve tried the luscious barrel fermented, lees stirred offering from Sam Coverdale at Polperro Wines in Mornington Peninsula, you’ve seen Pinot Gris imitate Chardonnay and it’s delectable.
In 2018 Pinot Gris is going to come into its own as a serious variety, not just another dry white. Seek some out, we’re sure you’ll a-Gris...
It’s Only The Be’Gin’ing
The eruption of Australian craft spirits has been on a volcanic scale over the last few of years. With over 100 Aussie gins now on the market and a load of new licences in the pipeline, the gin lover is now happily spoilt for choice when wanting to buy local.
Australian whiskeys have been lauded internationally as some of the best ‘new world’ whiskeys on the planet, going toe-to-toe with established distilleries with hundreds of years of history. It’s been thrilling to watch (and taste).
But the Aussie craft spirits story doesn’t stop there. There’s all sorts of tantalising things afoot in distillery land. Australia’s first absinthe, The Jezebel, was launched only this year. We’ve seen the first Australian Jenerve (an archaic predecessor of gin) come to bottle, as well as the world’s first Sheeps Whey Gin and Vodka produced from an Australian family-run sheep station.
With no bounds on creativity, an ultra-competitive market and the thirst for home-grown spirits growing by the day, expect to see all manner of weird and wonderful things to embibe as our distillers continue to raise the benchmark and our tumblers over the next twelve months.
We look forward to bringing you all this and more over the coming 2018. Thank you all for your support of the Australian craft wine and spirits scene. As you read this we are polishing our tasting glasses and gearing up to find the next hidden gem in Australian beverages. Look out 2018, here we come!
By Wade Doolan