To celebrate its 10th birthday the British magazine, Drinks Business, has been looking at the top 10 developments during that time in the world of drinks, including those based on grapes - wines.
Which is where New Zealand hogs a bit of the limelight, thanks in particular to the rise and rise in the popularity of the pinots noir and gris.
Writer Patrick Schmitt says that while it was tempting to list sauvignon blanc (driven by Marlborough) as the greatest development of the past 10 years, the pinots beat the grassy and gooseberry-flavoured variety because of the scale and extent of their popularity, and the phenomenal increase in plantings.
He traces the rise in the popularity of pinot noir directly back to the release in 2004 of a film called Sideways.
It is an amusing story about a road trip through Californian wine country featuring a character named Miles, whose love of pinot noir and dislike of merlot arguably changed people's opinions of what they should drink, says Schmitt.
The result was an immediate rise in the sales of pinot noir in the United States, and a world-wide interest that led to a huge increase in plantings and a more affordable supply of the sensual wine made from the great red grape of Burgundy.
And there are no prizes for guessing who stands out for carving a niche in the crowded market with what the article describes as “. . . a highly commercial take on the grape; not too jammy or alcoholic, but neither too thin nor green"; New Zealand, of course.
As for pinot gris, the white wine phenomenon of the past decade, New Zealand, like so many other countries, is now awash with the stuff, aptly described by Schmitt as “the default choice for many wine drinkers, especially women.”
The news that the 2012 vintage is well down on that of the previous year is not so bad then for sippers of pinot gris as it is for lovers of pinot noir, which is more selectively grown and was particularly hard hit in Marlborough, (down 6000 tonnes).
Which puts much of the expectation for taking up the shortfall, or some of it at least, on pinot noir producers in some of the smaller regions, particularly in Central Otago, where the harvest was up by more than 800 tonnes.
As an added bonus for them it was a very good vintage - “exceptional by other standards”, according to Greg Hay, of Peregrine Wines, who predicts some very smart pinots from 2012, an ideal situation for producers more interested in growing value than volume and customers who want quality across the board.
The wines could also be very different to some from other vintages according to James Dicey, president of the Central Otago Winegrowers' Association who has predicted lower alcohol levels because of lower sugar levels in the grapes. For many this will be a welcome relief, though most will not even notice as they savour the cherries, the berries, the layers of flavour and the silky appeal of what promise to be some very special pinot noirs.
Meantime, try these:
Devil's Staircase 2011 Pinot Noir, about $24
A well-priced second label from Rockburn that delivers a mouthful of sweet, ripe black cherries and raspberries seasoned with spice and oak. A smooth and succulent wine for those still getting the Central taste.
Rocky Point 2011 Pinot Noir, $19.95
Another second label, this one from Prophet's Rock, that offers good value, especially for those who are looking for a fuller-bodied pinot that's on the blacker side of red in both colour and taste. Soft and round.
Grasshopper Rock 2010 Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir, $32
A rich and fruity (cherries, berries) wine with a brambly, herbal country touch that should appeal to those who shop for pinots in this range.
Valli 2010 Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir, $65
Perhaps the most refined of Grant Taylor's four latest releases. A wine that is as much about the silky smooth texture as the glorious black fruit flavours. Pinotphiles will love it.
- © Fairfax NZ News