Comment - Wine - Losh's Chris-tal Ball: 2014. Part II
Disclaimer: Some of these predictions will not come true thiis year. Or any year.
Here, for your delectation, is part two of Chris Losh's predictions for the wine world in 2014. Part one can be found here.
Amazon is forced to apologise when it sends 3m people a free bottle of Hardy’s wine each as a ‘welcome’ to its wine club, and informs them that “people who bought this also bought a noose, a high stool and a bottle of sleeping pills”. “Our system was hacked by Treasury Wine Estates,” says Amazon’s chairman, Payne O’Tax. “We’ve taken them out with a drone strike.”
Much excitement in Chile, where Monty Aurelios claims to have found the ultimate cool climate vineyard site in mountainous valleys 2,000km south of Santiago. “Our Rieslings from here are truly mineral, beautiful and elegant,” he says. “We look forward to showing them to you in 2016 once they have finished their 18 months in oak.”
The German authorities invoke medieval heresy laws to imprison Pewsey Riot, a renegade gang of Australian winemakers, for insisting that it’s possible to make good Riesling Down Under.
Amorim launches its new closure, the Cork-Away. A screwcap with an outer disc of cork glued to the top, it is described as having “the great look of cork, with zero risk of TCA, in a handy-to-use, twist-open format”.
The head of the World Wine Federation finds himself in hot water, following a speech on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. “People always said that, after 1914, they would never again allow a situation to develop where you had two sides locked in entrenched positions in a mutually-destructive stalemate that benefited no-one,” he says . “And yet, still everyone deals with the supermarkets… .”
Following irreconcilable differences concerning the exact point of the ‘thesis’ element of the MW qualification, Esau Teric-Nonsense forms a breakaway group, the Wine Masters. “These MW losers are out of touch,” he announces. “WM students can write papers on things that matter in the real world, like 'Wine in Ancient Greece', 'The Use of Irony in Pinot Noir', and 'Why I Love My Job as a Supermarket Buyer'.”
Josh Berry, a young and distant family relative, takes over as MD at traditional London wine merchant Berry Bros and Rudd, promising to make wine “younger and more relevant”. His first event, a 'Wine Rave' in the company’s cellars, is raided by the police who find evidence of criminal levels of mark-up.
With the Scottish vote on independence looming, controversial brewer Brewdog launches Freedom Lager with the tongue-in-cheek slogan “F**k the English”. Despite huge traction on Twitter and Facebook, sales of the drink remain sluggish, with two-thirds of Scots complaining that, though they “liked the idea” the beer was “just too expensive to commit to”.
Wine-and-social-conscience blogger Ethics Girl incurs the wrath of French vignerons when she responds to a humanitarian crisis in Sudan with the advice “Watching starving villagers on television is distressing – so probably best to start the evening with a light white, like a Muscadet”. “To talk about our wines in such a context is tasteless and wrong,” says Loire grower Didier Dagenham. “A Chablis would have been far more appropriate.”
Taking a leaf out of the success of Fat Bastard Chardonnay in the 1990s, Australian winery Wombats Widger launches Skinny Git Sauvignon, Salad Dodger Colombard and a Gewurztraminer called Tarty Slag.
In an interview, the chairman of the Masters of Wine lambasts the breakaway Wine Masters as “a group of back-stabbing splitters who fail to understand the poetry inherent in degree-level chemistry”.
Digital channel, Vinternet TV launches Winemaker X-Factor. “We’re hoping to use that classic, zany winemaker sense of humour to make the category exciting to the general public,” says series producer Paul Yak. Numbers, however, start badly and get worse. Only eight viewers watch German Willi Vormer’s ‘Performing Yeast Circus’ beat Napa mimic Hugh Jarse’s ‘Faces of Robert Parker drinking Marsanne’ in the final.
The Californians pioneer a new technique to add minerality to wine. Pumping wine at high pressure through the earth, ‘Wine Fracking’ is described as “a cheap, safe alternative to all that fiddly terroir stuff” by its inventor Roland Michel of The Peaky Geyser winery.
Journalist Germolene Greyer publishes ‘Smashing the Tweed Ceiling ’ a hard-hitting exposé of snobbery and sexism in the wine industry. The establishment, however, remains unmoved. “Technically,” says Bing Markley of importers Eton, Harrow & Oxbridge, “you can’t smash tweed.”
Following Pernod Ricard’s announcement that Brancott Estate made a 12-month profit of just US$3.50 on sales of 2m cases, wine is officially named ‘least profitable product in the world’. “To be honest, we’re not unhappy with these margins,’ said spokesman Richard Pernod. ‘It’s better than many of our competitors'.”
With the delivery of 2m cases of wine to its wine club members, ‘Amazonia’ officially edges past Germany to become the fifth biggest wine market in the world. Juan Sago of Tesco describes it as “a bad day for the little guys”.
The head of the Wine Masters denounces MWs as “fundamentalist scum who want to take the world back to the dark ages”.
Berry Bros experiences record pre-Christmas sales when a video of Jancis Robinson twerking with Michael Broadbent at one of its ‘Wine Freax’ parties goes viral.
There is tragedy in California when 25 hectares of fracked vineyard at the Peaky Geyser winery disappears in a huge landslip.
Riot police move in to break up a bad-tempered clash between MWs and WMs at a rally in London. “We simply couldn’t allow such high levels of self-importance in a public place,” says a spokesman for the Met. “Especially not with all that man-made fibre.”
Ethics Girl finishes the year with handy advice for anyone struggling to watch footage of December’s catastrophic floods in Bangladesh that rendered 200,000 people homeless. “As a rule of thumb,” she says, “you need a dry wine to counter all that water. So why not start Christmas early and crack open the champagne!”
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