Towards the end of 2008 the big supermarket buyers were promising - or threatening, depending on your view - that the wines on the shelves this year would be even more dominated by new world countries, with France, Italy, Spain and the rest of Europe squeezed out to make room. The reason, of course, was (and is) the strength of the euro, making Europe’s wines 20% more expensive to Britain’s importers than they were 12 months earlier.
But that was before the dollar’s dramatic rally against sterling, a rise which not only hikes the cost of California wines but of Chilean and Argentine wines too, because most importers buy them in dollars. So that leaves Australian wines (no longer flavour of the month), South Africa (in with a strong chance this year) and New Zealand (also in with a chance, partly thanks to overproduction of its fashionable sauvignon blancs and the likelihood of price falls as a result).
For wine drinkers, the outlook is clear. Supermarkets will prune their ranges and a lot of prices will go up. Painful as it might be, now is a good time to stock up for the year.
2006 Château Le Chec, Graves Blanc, £9.75
Toasty, creamy, fresh and stylish (Adnams, 01502 727222).
2006 Olivier Fichet Terroir de Burgy, Mâcon-Villages, £8.50
Buttery, nutty, apple-scented; great value white burgundy (Stone, Vine & Sun, 01962 712351).
2006 Tinto da Anfora, £6.49
Ever reliable Portuguese red with ripe blueberry fruit and spicy oak (Sainsbury’s).