The year 2011 is all but gone. The New Year 2012 is the road ahead. This will be the beginning of our third year as an on line publication and the 33rd year since the first Underground debuted. I would like to take a moment here at the outset to thank all of you who have joined the on line Underground to pursue the wine road ahead. Also, I would like to encourage you to please pass along the Underground articles to your friends and encourage them to subscribe. It is easy. All you have to do is click the button and enter the email address. The wine road is never ending as we are always learning and it is also a lot of fun. That’s a win/win!
The Underground’s goal is to provide accurate wine commentary as honestly and simply as it can be presented. Also, we want to de-mystify wine and present it in the context of another food group. And, I am very proud of the experienced and extremely knowledgeable group of people who are affiliated with the Underground. (To view our mission and the people and biographies click here )
A large part of what we are doing is speaking out as an advocate of the consumer. It is, in fact, a consumer Bill of Rights. Here is how the wine consumer’s Bill of Rights is viewed from the Underground:
The Wine Consumer’s Bill of Rights
- The right to know all the ingredients in each bottle of wine available for sale.
- The right to have full disclosure of all ingredients on the back label of every wine available for sale.
- The right to question anything that is presented which seems inaccurate or not understandable (including wine descriptions).
- The right to know how wines are tasted and evaluated by wine publications and wine writers.
- The right to know if the person tasting the wine is also writing the evaluation.
All of the above items would be a great value to the consumer in a search for knowledge. The Underground will continue to advocate anything that will help the consumer. Please continue to be with us in this journey and, again, please pass the Underground on to your friends. But, most importantly, along the way, let’s be sure to “Drink What We Like & Like What We Drink” and let’s have lots of fun!
From the Wine Road:
THE REAR VIEW MIRROR AS WE LEAVE 2011 AND THE ROAD AHEAD AS WE ENTER 2012
2011 Highlights & The Road Past
Continuing many of the themes that were established in 2010, the Underground forged ahead in 2011. And, just as that year was ending I received a notice from CFALA (CFA Society of Los Angeles). I am a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and have been since 1976. In the old days the meetings consisted mostly of presentations of individual public companies. Today the schedule is more varied with economists, market technicians and analysts, portfolio managers, discussions of debt and equity investments in the US and around the world and also “alternative” investments such as fine art, commodities, real estate, etc. Well, guess who’s coming in early 2012? If you guessed wine you would be right. Speaking will be a new company (founded 2009) called The Wine Trust. The two principals have working experience dating from 1993 and 1995 mostly in investment banking with stints in private equity and consulting. One is mentioned as having developed “a passion for wine”. The idea of the company is to invest in “Investment Grade Wine”. I won’t go there now, but I have touched a bit on it in the past and I will have a lot more to say about that concept as we continue down the wine road. However, just as a parting observation as we leave 2011, consider an article in the 12/29/2011 edition of Barrons. It stated that two of the indexes tracking fine wine were down 9.4% and 4.9% in 2011. (US equity markets were basically flat, foreign equity markets mostly down, the US bond market up, and art markets up around 10%).
While wine recommendations are the major focus of the Underground, the focus on the wine consumer leads to much more than just individual wine recommendations. My 2011 commentary focused on wine trends, pricing, anomalies, absurdities, and consumer recommendations. These are highlighted in the following articles published in 2011:
- The Bordeaux Road Ahead – A Bubble, A Speed Bump, or Bliss? (To read the article click here )
- OMG – Is It The End of The World or Not? (To read the article click here )
- What is Wine? (To read the articleclick here) 
- YIKES! The Tide May Be Going Out Soon! Who’s Swimming Naked? (To read the article click here )
- The Birds Are Still Flocking – Watch Out Below! (To read the article click here )
- Is It Drink Now And Pay Later? You Bet Your Sweet Bippy, But Be Careful What you Wish For! (To read the article click here )
These articles followed on the trends established in 2010 which were highlighted by the following articles:
- Vinous Drive-By – It’s The Drive By Sip and Spit! (To red the article click here )
- And The Beat Goes On… (To read the article click here )
- The Beat Goes On and On…Sum Yung Vine X2 (To read the article click here )
2012 Forecast & The Road Ahead
So with those highlights as background what does the future hold? That’s a good question and a question that no one, in fact, can answer. But, that doesn’t stop us humans from continuing to joust at windmills. So being a member of the human race (based on my last check up) and remembering my good friend Ed Lazarus’s sage advice “God hates a coward”, here are my Underground prognostications for 2012:
20 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN THE 2012 WINE WORLD
- The Chinese miracle will continue to roll on driving up prices for selected wines that are in very limited supply. But, by the end of the year this trend of ever increasing prices for selected wines will be waning.
- The Chinese market for wines will show more signs of expanding as more different types of wines become familiar.
- The world wide wine glut will continue with falling prices for many very high priced wines. This will be driven by California wines and some classified growth Bordeaux in the $ triple digits
- World economic conditions and large production will continue to result in large numbers of inexpensive wines imported from South America and Spain with plenty of support from France and Italy. Other countries will need to lower prices to compete in the lower price segment of the market.
- Because of the large number of lower priced wines (wines priced at $10 and under), wine consumers will be more adventuresome. This will lead to more and more wine consumers turning to “The Blending Game” to salvage their mistakes.
- The trend to “Affordable Drinkable Wine” (ADW) will continue. Imported Rosés – especially from France and, in particular, Provence; along with Italy and Spain – will continue to gain favor.
- This Rosé trend will accelerate in California offerings as many producers will find it economically viable to turn more and more red grapes into a “cash crop”. Prices will have to compete with the large supply of imports that generally are priced in a range of $10-$30.
- The trend to ADW will continue to spread in California and include more Chardonnays and Cabernets as well as Sauvignon Blancs, Syrahs, Merlots, and Zinfandels. There will be a lot of wine in the $10-$15 range with even more in the $10-$20 range.
- New Zealand wines – particularly Sauvignon Blancs – will gain appeal as a result of their compatibility with lighter foods and competitive pricing.
- The trends of less oak and less alcohol will continue. This will be particularly noticeable in California wines as time goes on.
- It is probably too early to predict an end to the “big wine” syndrome, but expect it to come under more criticism as the year progresses. This will be driven by the trend to ADW and more experienced wine drinkers changing taste preferences.
- Driven by the flood of “big wines” in recent years and questions about “what is wine” will drive more and more consumers to ask for more transparency in terms of ingredients in wine. Wineries such as Ridge Vineyards will list ingredients and others will follow.
- Wine ingredient labeling will gradually move forward, but will not become a real issue until a “scandal” emerges.
- The wine fraud issue will surface again driven by the disclosure of evidence from the ongoing lawsuits alleging wine fraud. The Underground was the first publication to speak to this subject and we will have more to say later.
- While there will probably be more evidence of the existence of wine fraud, proving it may be another question.
- Wine writers will gradually join the trend to transparency, but this is likely to take time and will be driven by unexpected news.
- Fake wines and wine fraud will continue to be a fact of life in China and follow the long line of other products being knocked off there. Unscrupulous types will funnel these counterfeits back to the US to be sold to gullible consumers.
- Wine “Investment Trusts” will continue to be created. This will inevitably lead to a sharp correction as too much wine is accumulated, but this is unlikely until there are headline news articles on a regular basis about how investing in wine is a “no lose” proposition. This is not likely for several years.
- An over supply of “big numbers” New World Wines will result in a flattening of prices. The auction market for “flippers” will soften.
- More and more people here will turn to wine as the beverage of choice with food. This will be driven by life style changes and increased awareness.
So with this information and $2 you can get a bottle of “2 buck chuck”. But, if you do, remember there is always The Blending Game!
In Vino Veritas,