Comment - Wine - Losh's Chris-tal Ball
Having looked back at Chris Losh's predictions for 2012 a year ago, his success rate is clearly wobbly. Here's hoping in this, the first part of his preview of 2013, he takes it a bit more seriously. Eh? Oh.
The Wine & Spirit Trade Association blames "unseasonally wet weather in the run up to Christmas" for disappointing quarterly sales figures. The news isn’t all bad though, and the body highlights a doubling in sales of "non-European aromatic grape varieties", particularly Chilean Gewurztraminer as reasons for optimism.
With British royal Kate Middleton now three months pregnant, Languedoc winemaker Jean Travolta launches a ‘Scan de Pays’. The black and white label showing a photograph of a foetus wearing a cartoon crown flies off the shelves. "Of course," he says, "I’m a republican, so not in favour of the veneration of monarchy. But, business is business."
‘Sekt, Lees and Videotape’, an arthouse German indie movie set in a winery, is the big surprise of the 2013 Oscar nominations. A black comedy charting the slow decline of a once great aristocratic family, it is described as "a metaphor for European wine - with gratuitous nudity thrown in".
The marketing manager at Accolade Wines is sacked following his failure to schedule a single piece of activity for 2013. "I thought the world was going to end in December, so there didn’t seem much point," he says.
In a rebellion against old-style print journalism, a group of ‘bloguerrillas’ come together to form the Anonymous Bloggers Collective. "We’re fed up of not getting our pieces published just because they’re ill thought-out, sloppily researched and poorly written," says founding member ‘Marxnsparks45’.
The world’s biggest wine, spirit and beer producers come together to promote an advertising campaign that suggests people give up drinking not just for January, but right the way to Easter. "Our 'Nothing for Ninety' campaign shows just how committed the drinks industry is to health," says spokesman Dickie Bow. "We’re really taking the lead here."
Following their annual current release tastings in Europe, Australian and Kiwi wineries are left fending off accusations that two small vintages have left them short of wine. "It’s quite common to give tasting samples on a teaspoon down under," says Hazel More-Fee of Wines of Australia. "In fact, our Shirazes are often cut into cubes and served on a cocktail stick."
Cashing in on the Gangnam craze, a video of a team of Loire Winemakers doing ‘Chinon Style’ is posted online.
A laboratory in Lisbon finally manages to identify the mystery bacteria that is reckoned to infect as many as one in four bottles of Port. "It’s compound C6P12A4," says a boffin. "Or Tweed Taint, to you."
With the official announcement that British royal Kate Middleton is now two-thirds of the way through her pregnancy, Australian winery, Domaine Mann, launches a ‘Six-Month Merlot’. The bottle, showing a heavily-pregnant cartoon figure holding a sceptre, flies off the shelves. ‘Of course, we don’t want your bloody monarchy telling us what to do,’ say owners Whoodie and Yehudi Mann. ‘But, business is business.’
Glenmorangie comes under fire from whisky purists for its ‘Herring Barrel Finish’. ‘Waiter there’s a fish in my whisky’ screams the headline in the New York Times, while the Daily Telegraph prefers the single word ‘Spratfall’. "I don’t know what all the fuss is about," says a spokesman for the distillery. "Herring fishing is very traditional to Scotland. Besides, it’s no worse than some of our other finishes."
The first posting by the Anonymous Bloggers Collective raises eyebrows in the wine world when ‘Rodzilla’ posts a stinging article accusing Jancis Robinson of stealing his sandwich at a tasting of Croatian wines.
Cashing in on the Gangnam craze a video of a team of winery technicians doing ‘Lab-man style’ is posted online.
The Wine & Spirit Trade Association blames ‘an unusually cold spring’ for disappointing quarterly figures. The news isn’t all bad, though, and on the plus side, it picks out a 5% increase in dual-varietal wines over GBP12, as a reason for optimism.
There is controversy at the English Wines tasting in London, when one exhibitor is discovered to have been pouring tasters samples of coloured water. "There wasn’t much crop last year," explained winery owner Mildew Thrasher, "so we thought we’d save on stock. To be fair, it’s hard to tell the two apart in a blind tasting."
Good news for fine wine lovers as Krug holds the price of its Grande Cuvée for another year. "We know times are tough," said a spokesman for the winery. "In this climate, ordinary people will be cutting back on the number of skiing holidays and maybe even having to sell a yacht or two to make ends meet. We want them to know we feel their pain."
Accusations that there is little interest in the 2012 Bordeaux vintage are given added weight by the news that Sainsbury’s plans to release a ‘Taste the Difference First Growth Claret’.
The Autonomous Bloggers Collective creates a storm of controversy when it breaks a story about underage labour in French vineyards. "We saw kids as young as six among the vines, and getting no pay at all," thunders ‘FuriousWino25’. A statement from the French trade body points out that the writer was at a children’s play park in the grounds of a chateau, and that they’ll be talking to their lawyers.
Government figures suggest that, following the ‘Nothing for 90’ Campaign, 30% of the UK population gave up drinking from January to April. The world’s biggest wine, spirit and beer producers all issue profit warnings.
Controversy in the Languedoc, where 3,000 hectares of vineyards that had received an EU subsidy for removal are discovered still to be in production. "We did pull them up, but they grew back almost instantly without any help from us," explains Pierre Compote of the growers’ federation. "It is quite remarkable. It must be because the terroir here is so special…"
Cashing in on the Gangnam craze, a team of German winemakers doing ‘Gau Wein style’ is posted on line.
Following extensive tests, a quarter of all Champagne bottles are estimated to suffer from Tweed Taint. "It’s detectable even at quite low levels," says Georges Michel of the CIVC. "The human nose is very sensitive to delusions of aristocratic grandeur."
Tesco finds itself in hot water with the BIVB when it invites its customers to celebrate the moment when the royal ‘Babe-jolais Nouveau est arrivé’ with their ‘Gamay-zing French-style red’. "Not only is the grammar questionable," says Madame Crunchie-McFleurie, "but the wine is from Australia."
The wine world is consumed by the search for the mystery author who has penned a racy wine-related novel. ‘Fifty Shades of Gris’ follows the relationship between a dominating male wine critic and a submissive industry that succumbs to his every desire.
For part two of Chris' 2013 'predictions', click here.
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