January 1. Exclusively for Wine Gang subscribers, Swarovski, the glass crystal manufacturer, designs a crystal ball that allows us to gaze into 2012. Seasoned with a liberal pinch of sea salt, this is what we now know will happen over the coming year:
February 1. In the light of declining prices, Shanghai’s Bailian Group buys Château Lafite for hospitality and entertaining purposes, importing the Grand Vin’s 2011 vintage in bulk and turning it into a line of Lafite chocolates. Robert Parker rates them 100/100 and they sell out.
March 1. Realising his minimum alcohol pricing strategy will have no effect on reducing binge drinking, David Cameron brings duty on wine into line with the EU. As demand for wine soars, and with it government income, George Osborne toasts Nicolas Sarkozy’s health.
April 1. The world’s wine press finally heeds the call not to publish their 2011 Bordeaux en primeur tasting notes before the châteaux release prices. On the same date, Bordeaux drops its en primeur campaign and decides not to release the wines until they’re in bottle.
May 1. Style icon Gwyneth Paltrow’s wine pill Côte Blonde claims life-prolonging benefits as well as boosting the flavour of foie gras. The Chief Medical Officer requires its blister pack to carry a government health warning. Available at www.gwyneth-paltrow.org.
June 1. Ferrari announces a three-year sponsorship of the Institute of Masters of Wine which opens an office in the new Hotel Cheval Blanc in Paris where it sets up Wine Futures, a wine investment scheme offering loans of up to 100% of the value of blue chip wines.
July 1. Boris Johnson launches the London Olympics with Olympic Flame, a sparkling rosé made by RidgeView. Greece successfully takes London to the World Trade Court for trademark infringement and by way of restitution recovers the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.
August 1. The entire South American wine industry rejects the heavyweight 1.2 kilo bottle as unsustainable and votes to replace it with the new recyclable paper bottle. This is good for sales of Chilean and Argentinian icon wines, less so for their long-term cellaring potential.
September 1. In the wake of the Arab Spring, new constitutions reverse Islamic policy on alcohol, declaring moderate wine consumption beneficial for the encouragement of the Middle East tourism industry. A billion new wine drinkers are created and the world’s wine lake is mopped up at a stroke.
October 1. The chancellor’s duty cuts give the high street a shot in the arm. As a revitalised Oddbins and Wine Rack thrive, new phoenixes rise from the ashes: Peter Dominic, Victoria Wine, Augustus Barnett, Thresher, Fullers, Davisons, Arthur Rackham and Gough Brothers.
November 1. The lower alcohol moscato craze that washed over to the UK from America after US rapper Waka Flocka made it trendy fizzles out. Tesco’s Finest Moscato, Morrisons’ The Best Moscato, Asda’s Extra Special Moscato and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Moscato are all de-listed.
December 1. After extensive tests on a 19th century haul of Veuve Clicquot Champagne found in a shipwreck off Åland, scientists using aquatic cameras, sensors, and taste tests decide that undersea ageing is best for wine. In rival bids to buy the seabed, Sir Richard Branson beats the Chinese with offers of loans for storage at 0% interest from Virgin Money.
Happy New Year!