A Decade Against Decadence
Published by David Adamick on 17/01/2020
Well, there’s ten years gone. Ten years toward a lightness of sorts. Toward a dream of authenticity. Everything’s gotten… less. Much has gotten leaner. Less meat (though more free ranging), less oak, less packaging, ripeness, carbon emission… less alcohol. And correspondingly more vegan fayre, avocado, eastern Med/Middle East, charcoal grilling (emissions, people!), kimchi and street food. And on more plates of a lesser size: it was also a decade of the increasingly shared mess – or meze, if you will.
But what was not less was burgers. Doubtless, it was the Burger Decade. The French even got in on Le Burger (Big Fernand). Independent burger brands springing up like mushrooms of autumn: Honest Burger, Bleecker, Patty & Bun, Dirty Burger, Lucky Chip et al., all co-inciding interestingly with the inverted trend of the casual high street dining brands (GBK, Byron) nose-diving at an equally fevered pace. Supplanted as they face-planted.
But what did wine do? Well much, as we discovered Vinus Californius rediscovering it old self more restrained and back ‘in balance’ (kudos Roberson!) whilst the English got on to still wines -- also whilst their stock in fizz continued in its incorrigible ascent.
Prosecco achieved gin-epidemic proportions in the UK and at Cava’s astronomic expense; then came… rosé. Pink oceans’ worth and predominantly Provençal. But again, with the trend toward freshness, subtlety and delicacy in much of the UK’s gastronomic scene – particularly London’s – it’s been appropriate.
Greece came to the fore, at long last, thus seeming to push the venture further into and beyond the eastern Mediterranean.
Elsewhere, natural/organic/biodynamic viticulture flourished -- not to be confused with Natural Wine, however -- its pre-2010 pre-eminence finally drifting into twilight. An era of untamed, undisciplined wines of wild and funky abandon fading while its sounder principles of purity, transparency, simplicity and sense-of-place are preserved and passed on, dovetailing with an increased consumer awareness of and concern for higher quality produce of equally genuine provenance. The (literally) natural follow-on to which being an increased demand for vegan credentials in winemaking.
No need to stop there, as things generally tend to go: once the vegan genie a-loose, furthering the tendency toward spasms of prudence, next in the crosshairs was alcohol itself and touch-down on the slippery slope to low/zero-alcohol… ‘wines’. Yum. As if one’s mind and sanity were accidentally dropped into that centrifugal separation device at the non-alcohol ‘winery’. God do help us all...
Where was I? Ah yes: consumer awareness. The upside to all this over the past ten years has been a marked upward curve in his/her participation, awareness of and impetus to education in many things vinous. Ditto a heightened commercial savvy, the direct product of price-checking technologies’ proliferation with it increasingly consulted in the immediate on/off-trade moment. And this has surely contributed significantly to the trend to trading up whilst drinking less over the past ten years.
Bringing us to the now. I would suggest no relent in the ongoing integration of consumer with what is consumed where, perhaps, both restauranteur and wine distribution channels will, in terms of market messaging, recognise that once again less is indeed more.
It’s going to be interesting.
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