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Berry Bros predicts millennial flight to Old World quality

Published:  06 January, 2016

The millennial generation's quest for authenticity and the experience of discovery will lead it back to the classic wine regions this year, Berry Bros & Rudd has claimed in its New Year predictions.

The widely reported quality of the 2015 harvest means that outstanding wines will be available at every price point for key regions such as the Rhône and Bordeaux, the team from the St James-based wine merchant said.

"The quality will be brilliant across the classic regions - likewise in Italy as well," said chief executive Dan Jago.

"I don't think it will bring people away from exploration of less well-known regions, but it should be a vintage where we are able to say to consumers: no matter what you buy, from top to bottom, you are going to get a great bottle of wine to drink.

Even entry-level wines taste like twice the price of a wine from an off vintage."

Millennials will have the opportunity to learn about the provenance and heritage of long-established regions they might otherwise have overlooked, suggested wine director Mark Pardoe MW.

"Investment in, and enthusiasm for, wine is cyclical," he said.

"When the press, the industry and consumers are able to get behind a vintage, as they will for 2015, then a new raft of wine-drinkers - in this case the millennials - will become enthused by it; they'll get 'bitten by the bug' and really understand what the classic wine regions have to offer."

The search for authenticity is something that will inevitably lead consumers back to the classics, Jago said.

"It is extremely difficult to create a story with any authenticity, longevity or credibility unless it is real," he said.

"We've seen enough now in modern retail and modern brand management that people who haven't got something genuine to stand behind find it very difficult to create a story.

"Millennials understand and trust heritage and history and are smart enough to tell whether a story is credible or not."

The company is also predicting that natural wines will soon hit a commercial ceiling - and for related reasons.

"Low-intervention wines will continue to be desirable, but consumers will also look for wines that give a sense of place rather than hiding the terroir through poor winemaking," said Geordie Willis, BBR's creative director.

John Hutton, from BBR's wholesale arm, FMV, added: "A sense of place - terroir - is what defines a good wine. If you lose this, as you inevitably do in natural wine, you lose the wine's most important quality."

The millennials' characteristic open-mindedness is reflected across the marketplace, the team said, with the growing use of wines-by-the-glass systems such as Enomatic and Coravin in the on-trade fuelling their thirst for discovery.

And that open-mindedness can only help the acceptance of English sparkling wines, Jago said.

"English Sparkling is within a whisper - by which I mean the next two years or so - of being taken just as seriously as Champagne."