Cult Insider


The kids are alright

Written by - Aaron Rowlands, Research Editor - Cult Wines

Wine’s popularity among younger generations may be starting to ebb. Different reports in recent years have indicated that young people today drink less wine than their elders. However, a closer consideration of the trend suggests the decline may not be as meaningful as it might initially appear.

The most recent report centred on wine drinking in the US and certainly raised some cause for concern. The ‘State of the Industry Report’ by the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) showed that Americans have bought less wine year-on-year for two years in a row. This comes despite consumption growing among the over-60 age bracket, meaning the decline stems from younger age brackets. The UK has seen similar trends - a Drinkaware report last year showed lower rates of alcohol consumption among younger cohorts.

Such data usually triggers a myriad of theories about causes, typically mentioning the health-conscious lifestyles among today’s youth. When it comes to wine specifically, people often posit that its image (and often pricing) is slanted towards older generations while the younger ones are opting for other alcoholic options.

While there may be some truth to these claims, wine drinking trends should be put in context before drawing any conclusions.

First off, trends from the last few years must be taken with a grain of salt. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns upended many people’s drinking habits along with other routines. Some reports indicated people bought more wine during 2020 lockdowns for in-home consumption, suggesting the two-year decline in the US could stem, in part, from a return to normality with more competition for buyers’ time and money. The recent economic downturn and inflation also lend support to the temporary nature of recent trends.

Additionally, demand for premium wines remains robust. The same SVB report showed premium wine sales in the US grew by 6% year-on-year in 2022. Other reports have also corroborated the health of this segment of the market. UK importer/distributor Jascots reported an 84% year-on-year revenue rise in 2022 with some of the strongest results coming from its fine wine range.

Part of this premium sector strength could also stem from temporary distortions in drinking habits. But it could also signal a wider, largely positive, trend for fine wine. Across different industries, more people are seeking products that deliver greater authenticity by championing small production, verified provenance, and improved sustainability. These types of values are more likely associated with premium wines rather than mass-produced bulk products. We’ve seen this trend across other alcoholic drinks; craft beer and artisanal gin are now mainstream despite often higher costs than supermarket brands.

Therefore, this trend may constitute more of an evolution of the wine industry rather than a decline. If consumers are willing to pay more for a specific wine, it also follows that they may buy less overall. The fine wine segment, in particular, should see the inherent optimism in consumers choosing for quality over quantity. This concept is at the very heart of many producers’ and promotional organisations’ message.

This isn’t to say the industry can ignore reports of declining interest among younger age groups. But rather than jump to conclusions about an existential crisis based on recent trends, the industry needs to recognise what is working and expand on this.


News in brief

News 1


Exports drive Champagne sales to new heights

Champagne sales bubbled over the €6 billion mark in 2022. This highest-ever annual value came on the back of a 4.3% rise in the quantity of exported bottles, which overcame a dip in domestic sales within France. Overall, the number of bottles sold rose by 1.6% year-on-year in 2022, a good sign that the global market for the world’s most famous sparkling wine remains healthy despite high prices and a troubled macroeconomic backdrop.

News 1


Galloni sings praises of 2019 Barolos

One of the wine world’s most well-known critics, Antonio Galloni of Vinous Media heaped praise on the 2019 vintage in Barolo, which is getting released this year. “Barolo bounces back with a stellar vintage in 2019 that could very well represent the beginning of a new cycle of strong, outstanding years for this historic appellation,” he said. The 2019 Barolo Ravera by Vietti emerged as Galloni’s top scoring wine with a perfect 100-point score.

News 1


Marble-aged to perfection

A new Tuscan wine that has seen an extended ageing in marble amphorae has hit the market at €1,085/bottle. The Fuori Marmo Cabernet Sauvignon IGT Costa Toscana 2019 is a collaboration between Michelin-star chef Yannick Allena, Paolo Carli of Henraux marble quarries and winemaker Olivier Paul-Morandini. The trio made just 1,000 bottles, 120 magnums and 80 double magnums of this unique 2019 vintage.


Olivia Bodle, Global Head of Events - Cult Wines - 2015 Chiara Boschis Barolo Mosconi

What we’re drinking

2015 Chiara Boschis Barolo Mosconi

Olivia Bodle, Global Head of Events - Cult Wines

  • • Chiara Boschis is a remarkable woman! Her family have been making wine for centuries in Barolo, but she shook things up when she became one of the first female winemakers in Barolo in the 1980s.

  • • This wine comes from single >1 hectare site that features the estate’s oldest vines (70-80yrs), resulting in small quantities but more intense and complex wine.

  • • This Mosconi 2015 is a powerful winter warmer with a deeper colour than you might expect for a Barolo. It tastes of dark rich fruit with a little floral lift, and has plenty of structure from bold tannins.

  • • It’s a wine to have with dinner - something like a delicious stew or a roast. While drinking well now, you could also hang onto it for years to come.


Our fine wine feature

The growing importance of Cabernet Franc in St-Émilion

Written by - Aaron Rowlands, Research Editor - Cult Wines

Bordeaux’s Right Bank is traditionally viewed as Merlot country, contrasting with Cabernet Sauvignon on the Left Bank. But this overlooks the importance of Cabernet Franc, a grape variety whose roots dig deep (metaphorically and literally) in St-Émilion, Pomerol and other Right Bank AOCs.

We’re also seeing more Cabernet Franc in recent years as several Right Bank estates have upped the portion of Cabernet Franc in their blends. The reasons for this formed part of the discussions at a Cabernet Franc-themed seminar late last year hosted at the lovely Chateau de Ferrand, a St-Émilion Grand Cru Classé estate. Here, it dawned on me how much the grape variety is a part of the DNA of the region during a tasting of some of the finest Right Bank wines.

Since the 2018 vintage, Chateau de Ferrand wines have incorporated 25% or more of Cabernet Franc. A vertical tasting provided a clear demonstration how these more recent vintages all possessed an energetic vibrant acidity that wasn’t as strong in the earlier years.

The growing importance of Cabernet Franc in St-Émilion

“Cabernet Franc brings structure, backbone, freshness, salinity to the wine and sometimes a chalky finish. It is a varietal that is not always easy to tame with our weather conditions, and it’s a relatively late maturing grape variety,” said Chateau de Ferrand’s General Manager Gonzague De Lambert.

The spate of recent warm vintages in Bordeaux have helped Cabernet Franc develop to its full potential. But the reasons different estates are focussing more on the variety are more complex and include:

Climate change

Compared to Merlot, Cabernet Franc is later ripening and less prone to becoming over ripe, which can lead to intensely alcoholic wines with cooked, jammy flavour profiles. Therefore, Cabernet Franc could be key to Bordeaux’s ability to adapt to a warming climate by relying on one of its traditional grape varieties rather than adopting a variety from southern Europe which would alter the historic fine wine region’s timeless profile.


Vignerons are gaining a better understanding of what sites and soils are suited to which grape varieties. Limestone is prevalent around St-Émilion’s famed plateau and escarpment, which is why de Ferrand is planting more Cabernet Franc, which has deep roots that draw up minerals very well.

“To produce a good Cabernet Franc, we need to have the best conditions and limestone is one of them. We also need to have a good drainage with a small slope and a good sun exposure,” explained Gonzague. “Chateau de Ferrand’s terroir is fantastic because of its special location on the limestone and clay plateau of St-Émilion. Indeed, we are the second highest point in St-Émilion, between 90 to 105 m above the sea level. After an ambitious restructuring in our vineyard and an important study of our soils, we’ve planted more Cabernet Franc on the limestone part and the Merlot more on the clay part.”

Drinking preferences

We also discussed current consumers preferences for fresher wines with uplifting acidity, minerality and fresh fruit flavours as a reason for the trend toward Cabernet Franc in many areas.

The tasting line-up we enjoyed at dinner demonstrated the breadth of Cabernet Franc even within a small area. A Cheval Blanc 2001 (40% CF) still exuded the grape’s signature fresh red cherry, vibrant acidity with perfumed floral aromatics despite its two decades of age. The Lafleur 2006 (39% CF), meanwhile, was deeper and brooding with the Merlot perhaps more dominant on the palette. The Ausone 2008 (55% CF) still possessed a rigid backbone, undoubtedly helped by the Cabernet and its cranberry and damson flavours.

This line-up of Right Bank’s finest shows off the potential of what great Cabernet Franc can be. Now, it will now be exciting to see the next stages of Cabernet Franc’s development in Bordeaux amid today’s warmer temperatures and the improved knowledge of terroir.


Explore & travel

Passione Vino - the clue is in the name

Written by - Patrick Thornton-Smith, Chief Customer Experience Officer & CSR Lead - Cult Wines

Oh, how I wish a wine bar like Passione Vino had existed 30 years ago! When I started my career in the City of London in the mid-1980s in Fin Tech, most software firms were located in an area called ‘Information Alley’ north of Moorgate and east of Old Street Roundabout. At that time the area was somewhat dodgy and down at heel. The expanse of decaying warehouse buildings and dubious characters was not a place to go at night, live in or socialise. There definitely wasn’t any place to get a great glass of wine.

But nowadays we all know that Shoreditch has had a bit of a renaissance. The popular area is home to many creative, fashion and tech firms, eye-wateringly expensive apartments and the playground to the habitues of the millennial urban liberal elite.

So, it should be no surprise that the area also boasts one of London’s most unique and popular wine establishments - Passione Vino. Combining elements of a wine bar, restaurant and shop, Passione Vino encapsulates all that is good about this area and most importantly, Italian wine.

Passione Vino - the clue is in the name

Passione Vino is located over three floors with each a revelation in décor, style and most importantly, a vast array of small producer-owned wines that celebrate the 350+ grape varieties across the whole of Italy from the Dolomites to Sicily.

The premises on Leonard Street hosts a basement restaurant, ground floor tasting room and bar, and first floor dining/event room. Above this, Luca is a very successful trade sales operation supplying hundreds of restaurants around the UK.

Central to the whole Passione Vino experience is the owner, Luca Dusi. He’s managed to bring all the hospitality, passion, knowledge, generosity, laughter and great wine we all associate with Italy to this little corner of London.

Some reasons to visit:

  • • The wine selection is huge and will introduce you to many, many new Italian varieties, sub regions and producers, which are all well priced!
  • • The atmosphere and welcome will keep you coming back from more!
  • • Great food!
  • • Luca-once met never forgotten!


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