Let’s delve into 2012. What are the predictions for this year’s vinous calendar? Here are four. Readers are invited to add a fifth. The best entry will receive a bottle from WineGoggle’s private cellar.
1. After years of feverish attempts to work in secrecy, Stellenbosch University announces the discovery of a new grape variety. Ch+¬noday Blanc, a crossing of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, hopes to become the white equivalent of home-grown stalwart Pinotage offering the South African wine industry a point of difference and an authentic wine marketing tool. According to the newly formed Ch+¬noday Lovers Intererst Group (CLIG), the early-ripening grape is characterised by flavours of grilled nuts, honey, bruised apple, breadfruit, winter pear, cat’s pee, cut grass, litchi, mango, citrus and should be an immediate success among the consumers looking for easily accessible white wine styles.
A well-known financial institution based in Hong Kong is already discussing a sponsorship deal with CLIG. The deal is, however, dependent on finding a space in the cluttered South African wine calendar to hold the inaugural Ch+¬noday Hurray Festival.
2. With the imminent ban on alcohol advertising, the wine industry is rescued by South African-based digital platform DStv which circumvents the advertising regulations by broadcasting wine-related editorial content. The new channel, WineNet, starts beaming wine news and information to DStv subscribers in Africa, and the channel is picked-up by Fox in the USA.
Headline slots on WineNet include “Where the Hell Was I Last Night?”, hosted by Christian Eedes, Cathy Marston’s education course “Dead Merlots Society” and foodie Jean-Pierre Rousseau’s “Come Wine with Me”, a light-hearted pairing of South African cuisine and wine.
Glamour girl Jeanri-Tine van Zyl returns to the industry after a five month lay-off with a hard-hitting series of interviews with wine-makers and personalities called “Roll Over my Barrel”, while wine-maker Duncan Savage gives regular updates on the vineyard fashion scene in “Barrique Chic ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Dressing for Terroir”.
3. The Swartland Revolution puts South Africa on the wine map by releasing a series of wines made from the oldest vineyard in the world. This follows on Eben Sadie and Adi Badenhorst discovering a vineyard outside Koringberg in the Swartland which was planted in 1209 by an early Hottentot tribe. The vineyard, covered by three metres of koffieklip soil, was located with infrared satellite technology and revived by Sadie and Badenhorst using bulldozers to remove the covering soil and placing each vine on a saline drip for two months. The two hectares of grapes produced 18kg of grapes. They were hand-picked, de-stemmed, crushed and the wine was left to mature in an old barrels made of virgin indigenous yellow-wood (Podocarpus latifolius).
Archaeologists, viticulturalists and wine-makers from around the world flocked to the Swartland Revolution to witness the pouring of the resulting wine, which was labelled under the name “Moer Oue Wyn”.
In honour of the folk who initially planted the vines, Sadie and Badenhorst further steal the show when they donned butt thongs and rock-rabbit skins for the launch, making headline news on Sky, CNN, and National Geographic.
4. Cape Wine 2012, organised by Wines of South Africa, becomes one of the most talked about wine events of the year. Apart from attracting journalists, sommeliers, marketers, retailers, wine-buyers and generic marketers from around the world, the event takes a new turn with Wosa putting on an opera to atone for the CEO’s recent disparaging remarks about an Oriental country.
An all-star Wosa and local wine-industry cast stun visitors to Cape Wine by performing Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in original costumes and the traditional style. With music provided by the Solms-Delta Philharmonic Orchestra, Su Birch does a star turn as the tragic Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), while Wosa communications head Andr+¬ Morgenhtal has the female audience in rapture with his heart-felt portrayal of the caddish lieutenant BF Pinkerton.
Birch’s rendition of the frivolous, innocent “Ancora un passo” and the following “Gran ventura” duet with Morgenthal are received with gasps of incredulity at the realism of the inter-play and the restrained animal attraction for each other.
However, when Birch sings “Un bel di”, the opera’s most famous piece of music, tears form on the cheeks of the most hardy South African wine farmers. And by the time Butterfly ends her life in the final scene by stabbing herself in the heart with a broken Pinotage bottle, the audience is reminded of the infallibility of the human condition and that love and wine can conquer all.