Nostalgia ain't what it used to be
Some things make better comebacks than others. The Phantom Menace was trite, The Force Awakens was triumphant. Cadbury ironically relaunched the Wispa and it’s still thriving nine years later, whereas its Aztec bar bombed after optimistically returning as the Aztec 2000. Heart-throb boy-band Take That’s comeback album enjoyed huge success, but poodle rock hellraisers Guns ’n’ Roses? Axl Rose is 54 now. Welcome To The Jumble Sale.
Nostalgia brands clearly have potential – or at least some of them do – and as each new generation reaches workplace seniority, a new raft of sentimental yesteryear favourites get brought back to life. So which wines are due a reboot?
Two that seem primed for rediscovering their glory days are Muscadet and Beaujolais. They have both been showing signs of revival for some years, and the buzz around them is reaching a crescendo. Beaujolais started getting renewed attention with the excellent 2009 vintage, but that seemed to be something of a false start.
Now, however, there is wider clamour for lighter reds, and Beaujolais has the volume, affordability, quality potential and natural structure to take full advantage.
Muscadet has been on the sidelines for years too. A succession of difficult vintages with low yields hasn’t helped matters, but the region has been working hard on improving quality. There is now a growing appreciation for its ageability (Majestic and the Wine Society both sell mature Muscadet for less than £10), helped by the establishment of crus communaux and hero brands such as Terre de Gneiss.
Elsewhere, some famous wine names are already enjoying a second life. Blue Nun may still be laughed at by Generation X, but it’s proving popular with millennials who don’t associate it with 1970s naffness, and its Riesling even won a place in the Top 50 Wines of Germany competition last year. Meanwhile, Mateus has a rejuvenated range and appearance and was recently named one of the World’s 50 Most Admired Wine Brands by OLN sister title Drinks International.
Quite whether any of these wines will ever achieve the success currently enjoyed by the likes of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Argentinian Malbec remains to be seen. What is even more intriguing is what might be waiting in the wings. There are plenty of contenders: Lambrusco is already beloved of the hipster somm scene, Asti Spumante has the crowd-pleasing benefits of being fizzy, sweet, low-alcohol and made from recently trendy Moscato, and it’s surely just a matter of time before someone breathes new life into Frascati or Bull’s Blood or white port.
The fate of such retro products depends on how they resonate, first with us and then with our customers. It can be easy to overrate something’s appeal based on blinkered nostalgic affection. On the other hand, bringing a deserving wine back from obscurity to a new audience is surely one of the greatest potential perks of the job.
And if Craig David can make it back into the charts, anything’s possible.