As an industry leader, some of the primary goals of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles are to keep you up to date with the most current developments in the global wine market. We looked at some of the wine trends for 2018 and compared them with our most recent data.

In 2018, we believe the Chinese market will retain its significance for the global wine industry. Organic and biodynamic wines are likely to see growth. So too may the higher-priced category wines and wines from ‘niche’ countries. In 2018, we hope to see more and more wines with an authentic story, including mature vintage wines. Consumers will be increasingly looking for interesting information and as ever, will be spoilt for choice.

China’s wine market

In 2017, Asia continued to be one of the most important wine markets in the world. China was where the wine sector developed the most in terms of production and consumption. We expect that trend to continue in 2018.

China is in the process of becoming the world’s largest importer of wine, with sales worth more than $ 2 billion and staggering growth of 37 % since 2014. Wine consumers in China number 38 million, offering real opportunities for wine growers. The consumer is also becoming younger, 40% of Chinese wine enthusiasts are aged between 18 and 29. The most popular imported wines are French, Chilean and Australian. In fact, China is the largest export market for Bordeaux wines, by a good margin. However, a decline in the consumption of French wines is noticeable and is due to consumers looking for equivalent quality at a more affordable price. Argentinean, Spanish and Portuguese wines meet these criteria.

In 2017, Chinese wine entries in the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) posted an increase of 112.5% compared to 2016, and nearly 250% since 2015. In 2017, China won 78 medals for 255 entries in the CMB. It ranked 6th in the overall CMB medal list (climbing up from 8th place in 2016), with the largest number of medals being awarded to wines from the Ningxia region. In 2017, the country got a remarkable share of Grand Gold Medals, preceded only by “the usual suspects” that are Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy.

In 2018, China may continue to be the largest market for some of the leading wine producing countries in the world. Growth rates in China may well be higher than in any other market.

The Organic wine revolution will continue well into 2018

Consumers are more knowledgeable and curious as to what goes into the wine they consume. Just as foodies focus on what is on their plate, wine lovers will seek out wines made with attention to detail. In 2018, retailers and restaurants will have to figure out new ways of attracting consumers who see the “making of” wine as a key aspect.

Over the last 3 years, we have seen remarkable growth of nearly 80 % in organic and biodynamic wine entries in the CMB. This is a result of strong consumer interest in both categories.

Recognizing this market development, we introduced a new category dedicated to organic and biodynamic wines for the first time in 2017. The top five countries awarded in the organic category were Italy, France, Spain, China and Portugal. They were closely followed by 3 countries from Eastern Europe: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Moldova. In 2017, the CMB panel distinguished as a genuine “Revelation” in the organic category “Selendi Sarnic Shiraz 2013” from…Turkey.

We expect more and more key players from various countries across the world to start applying the principles of organic and biodynamic wine growing. Consumers will show an increased awareness of the origin and production methods for wines, favouring organic and local products.

Mature vintage wines and wines from Eastern Europe

Industry experts believe that in 2018 lesser-known varieties from lesser-known countries may catch consumers’ attention.

According to the International Organisation of Wine and Vine (OIV), 2017 saw an all-time low in production due to unfavorable weather conditions. However, two Eastern European countries witnessed a rise compared to 2016: Romania (5.3 mhl), and Hungary (2.9 mhl).

Between 2015 and 2017, CMB entries from Eastern Europe, which could be considered as “lesser-known”, rose by 42.9 %. In 2017, two Eastern European countries – Bulgaria and the Czech Republic – entered the top-ten list of medal-winners.

In the interests of excellence and innovation, a section of the competition was dedicated in 2017 to outstanding wines from the last century, i.e. vintages before the year 2000. No other competition has provided such an opportunity for these landmark wines to take their rightful place in the limelight. In 2017, we awarded 30 medals to mature vintage wines, with the indisputable “winner” being Portugal: for 16 entries the country walked away with 14 medals, with vintages going as far back as 1929. In 2018, we expect more collectors to discover the rare and unique character of these mature vintages.

A willingness to pay more for quality?

In 2017, producers invested more to secure quality. The share of the highest-priced entries (over  € 70) in the 2017 CMB, for instance, rose from 0.5% to 0.9% (2015 vs 2017). So did the share of the medals awarded to these wines: 0.3% to 0.5% (2015 to 2017). Interestingly, in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the majority of the high price category wines (€50 to 70; and over €70) received Grand Gold and Gold medals. In 2017, CMB awarded more medals to the € 70 + category than to the €50–70 price category.

Despite the difficult economic situation and forecast for smaller harvests, growth at the premium end might be expected. Volume may shrink, but value expand.

The 25th CMB will be held from May 10 to 13, 2018, in the Haidian District of Beijing, China, with the support of the Beijing Municipal Government, the Haidian District of Beijing and the Beijing International Wine and Spirit Exchange (BJIWSE).