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As we wave through the start of 2016, Chris Losh presents his annual look at what he expects will shape the wine landscape in the year ahead.

What does 2016 have in store for the global wine industry? Dont ask Chris Losh

What does 2016 have in store for the global wine industry? Don't ask Chris Losh

Or not.

January

The year starts badly when a group of self-confessed 'anti-alcohol fundamentalists', DryEsh, hijack a Masters of Wine trip to Champagne, taking 25 MWs hostage. The world is appalled by footage of spittoons being overturned, tweed jackets being burned and members forced to drink wines at completely the wrong temperature. Before long 'Je suis Chalons' is trending on social media, and wine bodies from across the globe work together to gather sufficient ransom to ensure that the tasters are not released any time soon.

Following the bombshell that winemakers routinely lie about abv levels on wine labels, the world is further rocked by revelations that bears 'regularly do their business outside' and that the Pope has been known to exhibit 'behaviour commensurate with catholicism'.

Danish visionary Mads Ahatter credits global warming with being able to produce his country's first major wine range from a 20-hectare vineyard outside Copenhagen. Writing in Decanter, Stephen Brook-Spurbent describes it as "Stalky, vegetal and harder than the hardest Bordeaux. Five stars."

February

A Burgundian vigneron sees his wines stripped of appellation status following the discovery that he has been artificially injecting his barrels with brettanomyces. "It's hard to know what he was thinking, keeping his winery so spotlessly clean in the first place," says Christophe Pistophe of the BIVB. "He has no respect for our traditions at all."

Lambrusco officially becomes the "last trend of the 1970s to become a 21st century must-have", according to the listicle website Fill-Your-Day-With-Aimless-Nonsense-Instead-of-Working. "People have gone for ludicrous facial hair, 300 identical gins, and artisanal ciders that taste like cow's urine strained through an unwashed smock. After frothy Italian bubblegum we're all out of irony," says blogger-in-chief, Truman Coyote.

March

Moet Hennessy dismisses suggestions that it is 'moving Dom Perignon downmarket' when it strikes an endorsement deal for the brand with Otto the skateboarding bulldog. "It's no different to Pol Roger's association with Winston Churchill," says a spokesman for the Champagne brand. "They look kind of similar and both drink the stuff like water – the only difference is that Otto has a million hits on YouTube and can skateboard through a tunnel of 30 people's legs. I'd say that gives him the edge."

Controversial wine-sharing website Napaster runs into trouble when it transpires that users have been breaking into wineries, siphoning liquid out of tanks and distributing them at no cost. Their defence, that "this is the internet, nobody pays for anything" is given short shrift by the judge, who sentences the site's founders to five years of drinking Californian Fumé Blanc.

April

There is controversy at the en primeur tastings, when the influential Californian blogger, Harry Spex, is discovered to be divining the scores of wines by peering at the entrails of a slaughtered goat. "I don't see what the big deal is," he says when confronted by angry chateau owners. "It's no more random than the process used by all the other critics, and the science is better than biodynamics."

Winemakers in the Riverland are delighted by the news that their region has been picked to host the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium in 2020. "Given you can sauté a koala on the sidewalk here in summer, our bid might have looked like a long shot," says the region's governor, Eddie Backhander. "Fortunately, the new ICCWS head, Mr Blatter, was open-minded enough to see past that."

May

A video taken at the London Wine Fair, showing a large group of wine producers moving around the exhibition hall apparently in perfect synchronisation, goes viral. 'The Murmuration' attracts over 1m hits on YouTube, with scientists and sociologists all advancing theories for the unusual behaviour, from complex mating rituals to a communal search for a mid-morning espresso.  In the end, however, TheRealMichaelBroadbent finds an explanation. "Dem loserz just be followin' a Tesco buyer innit? LOLZ. ?" he posts on the 'Wine 'n' Grine' website.

After being served a corked bottle of DRC, Donald Trump calls for "a ban on all European wines until those guys over there figure out what the hell's going on". The French, however, are quick to smooth ruffled feathers. "Even corked burgundy is better than Blossom Hill," sniffs a spokesman.

June

Journalists and critics are invited to Jerez to experience Sherry's first ever en primeur campaign, sampling base wines from the 2015 vintage before they enter the solera system. Not everyone is happy, though, with winemakers in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany and Rioja pointing out that, since these wines will bear no resemblance to what is actually in the bottle, particularly over a long period of time, the whole episode is "cynical", "meaningless" and "amorally exploitative". "Thank God," said Ramon Serrano, head of the Sherry Council. "We've never run an en primeur campaign before - I'm pleased we got it right first time."

A new wine bar selling "artisanal, over-marked up crap for people with beards" opens in the heart of hipster East London. 'Hoxton Beard 'n' Auslese' specialises in dessert wine and has a strict 'facial hair only' dress code. After two weeks, however, the management relent to allow women and the clean-shaven to rent mutton-chop whiskers at the door.

Part two of Chris Losh's 2016 wine forecast will be published on just-drinks next week.


Sectors: Wine

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