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2011 Predictions Unfiltered predicts the news that will rock the wine world in the coming 12 months

Sadly, Unfiltered’s prediction last year that Gaia Gaja and Lady Gaga would perform at the 2010 Wine Spectator Wine Experience in Las Vegas did not come to pass. However, our 2009 prediction that Scarlett Johansson would venture onto our pages came true, so we’re taking another crack at it in 2011. Happy new year to all of Unfiltered’s readers; may 2011 bring you good wine, and this column bring you good cheer.

• Last year saw the launch of “Mariah Carey’s” Angel Champagne label (it’s a years-old company, rebranded in her image just for the discerning drinkers in the club), for which she apparently crushed the grapes herself in Jimmy Choos. In 2011, expect glitter-clad pop songstress Ke$ha to follow suit, trading her customary early-morning “bottle of Jack” for a partnership with super Tuscan producer Tenuta San Guido. You’ll see Ke$ha $a$$icaia debut early this year but, as with any prestige label, be warned that as Ke$ha herself has stated, “think you’ll be getting this? Nah, nah, nah.”

• The Lafites and Moutons with Chinese-inspired labels that showed up in the Asian markets in 2010 were just the beginning. In this crazy-hot auction market blowing up in the wild wild Far East, there is no gimmick too flashy, no hook too big. We caught wind of a super-secret auction coming up: Christie’s has gotten ahold of a very rare collection from an anonymous British collector who has kept his cellar in an underground lair in the Nevada desert since the 1960s. Included in this exclusive cache of rare and valuable wines is a case of 1947 Cheval-Blanc that has been stored in pristine conditions in an original waterproof wooden case atop a shark with freakin’ laser beams attached to its head. Christie’s has placed the low estimate at one million dollars. No, wait, one billion dollars!

• When times are tough, people tend to get desperate to the point of theft—and we’re not just talking about a loaf of bread to feed the family. The 2010 northern hemisphere harvest season saw entire vineyards robbed of their grapes in Washington state and France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, and a presumed truffle thief in Provence fatally shot by the farmer who caught him trespassing. In 2011, we predict that the agricultural theft trend will continue, with enterprising thieves sneaking in to celebrated vineyards to steal their coveted wild yeasts. It’s the perfect crime, as the one-celled organisms are too small to be detected by the human eye, and no one has figured out how to etch serial numbers on their backs (yet).

• 2009 saw the banning of the Hahn Family Wines Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon in Alabama because the label portrayed a not-distasteful nude on a bicycle. The control board went so far as to demand Hahn never submit the label again because of the offense it caused them. In 2010, Red Bicyclette, a Gallo label sourced from Languedoc growers, was found to be releasing “Pinot Noir” that happened to be just a bit more along the lines of Syrah and Merlot; a dozen growers were charged with fraud. Do you see the pattern? We’ll give you a hint: what has two wheels, injures children and should never again be allowed on a wine label? If you said, “a bicyclette,” don’t say that any more. But if you said, “a bicycle,” then you are correct—watch for the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to outlaw any depiction of bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles, those weird Dutch two-person bicycles and wheelchairs on any future wine label in 2011.

• It seems there is no better publicist for wine than the work of scientific researchers, who keep coming up with great reasons to drink the stuff: It helps repair heart damage, it aids in healthy digestion, and it may lower the risk of such diseases as diabetes and arthritis. Unfiltered predicts that this will be the year scientists conclusively prove that a person seen drinking wine will be more attractive to potential mates than a person seen drinking milk; that wine is a better long-term investment than gold; and that a person who brings a great bottle of wine for the host is statistically more likely to be invited back. Furthermore, digital camera companies will unveil technology, similar to “red-eye reduction,” that allows users to edit photos of friends and family with the dread “red-wine teeth.”

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