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2014 Predictions

Unfiltered uncorks what's on tap for the coming year, from the always-obvious pop star wines to counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan's next move and legal wrangling over who can and cannot call themselves a Duck

Posted: January 2, 2014

Spoiler alert: Unfiltered is about to take all the wine mystery out of 2014. And if you believe that, we've got a bridge over the Mosel river to sell you. Wine is unpredictable, but that hasn't stopped us here at Unfiltered from prognosticating everything from Tim Tebow holy wine to SuperSize McMerlot (maybe we'll finally get that one now that Mayor Mike Bloomberg is out of office) to an app that corrects "red wine teeth" in photos. (Seriously though, why hasn't that last one happened yet?)

Before we get on to this year's can't-miss predictions, however, due diligence requires that we look back at what we foretold for 2013 and see how we did. When we made our celebrity wine predictions last year, we aimed low, our specialty, but in this case it was regarding ages: Miley Cyrus, Josh Hutcherson and Kate Upton all turned 21 this past year, but none of them released any wine labels. (Big year for Miley, though!)

After 2011 and 2012 proved to be banner years for wine on reality television, from the Real Housewives to Sonoma's winemaking Bachelor star, Ben Flajnik, we predicted more of the same in 2013. But that proved not to be the case. We did not get a wine geek out of TBS' King of the Nerds competition, but it has been renewed for a second season, so perhaps there's still hope. We did get some new reality TV wines in 2013, though, from two different stars of Mob Wives, Angela "Big Ang" Raiola and Nora Schweihs.

Also this year, Rudy Kurniawan was convicted of fraud, disproving our theory that he himself was a fake person, but we'll have more on him later …

• Trendsetter Kanye West was way ahead of the Moscato craze—we reported on his taste for it back in 2005. So don't expect him to follow in the footsteps of Nicki Minaj, Warren G or Christina Milian and bring forth another celebrity-faced Moscato. But don't be surprised if a new Moscato surfaces bearing the name of the Kardashian clan, which West will be marrying into later this year when he and Kim tie the knot, possibly at the Palace of Versailles. The controversial West will no doubt aim for something far more cerebral with his own debut wine: The Yeezus producer, singer of "Jesus Walks" and "I Am a God," who has even been bringing a Jesus Christ lookalike on stage with him this tour, will release a $1,000 bottle of "wine" that is, in fact, just a bottle of water. Water sommeliers the world over rejoice.

• In 2013, Napa's Duckhorn Vineyards continued its relentless battle to be the only duck in the pond: The winery reignited a decade-old legal war with Duck Walk Vineyards, and also ruffled some feathers at Duck Pond Cellars, Silver Decoy, Trinchero Estates' Duck Commander label (that would be the Duck Dynasty guys' wine) and other brands of the waterfowl genre. In 2014, Duckhorn's legal team—no quacks—is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the very concept of aquatic birds is associated solely with the winery. The winery will take aim at every duck in the continental United States, and some small geese, demanding they drastically makeover their look, or else a lawsuit will be filed against each individual bird that fails to comply. One duck, who wished to remain anonymous but would allow that he worked in insurance, spoke to Unfiltered and expressed disbelief at the situation. "These humans are way out of pecking order," he said. "This is the quackiest thing I've ever heard. … Aflac!" It's too early to predict what could come of this lawsuit, but needless to say, some of these ducks could end up with a pretty large bill. The Duck Dynasts, meanwhile, responded this week in their way, by announcing a partnership with Mossberg to launch a series of AR-15s, shotguns and sundry other assault weapons.

• It's hard to imagine there could be a worse year than 2013 to be notorious wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan, and indeed things are looking up for "Dr. Conti" in 2014 following his December conviction of forging more than 1,000 bottles of fancy wine to be sold at auction. Rudy's looking down the barrel of a potential 40-year sentence, but it turns out that prison life will suit him well. Through his connections with a shady dealer known only as "Prof. Puligny," Rudy will have access to his beloved Pinot Noir (it will be smuggled through in bottles of "Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Clos de la Roche"). Kurniawan will form a wine appreciation club with likeminded connoisseurs behind bars. The club will be disbanded when a heated disagreement over whether a bottle tasted blind contained the legendary 1959 Mouton or Latour (actually a mix of oxidized Central Coast Cabernets) leads to guards wrestling from Rudy the rudimentary Champagne saber he had fashioned from sharpened toothbrushes, discarded toilet paper rolls and chewed Nicorette. After serving out his sentence, Kurniawan will leave the States and take refuge in the wine counterfeiting hotbed of China.

• The 2013 film Somm, which followed four young enophiles in their quest to pass the notoriously difficult Master Sommelier exam, proved a surprise hit. 2014's follow-up, Shattered, will take a much bleaker look at what happens to those who fail the exam, presenting the worthless lives of four unfortunate wine "professionals," as they refer to themselves in what provokes a mixture of pity and revulsion at the pathos of it, as they are forced to come to terms with what an existence without meaning feels like. One subject loses his wife to a man whose strength of palate he could never hope to match, another falls into a spiral of depression and domestic Merlot, a third is seen pacing the halls of a mental ward—for two years his only speech has been a monotone recitation of Burgundy's grands and premiers crus, over and over—while in the final, haunting scene, we see a man suffer the ultimate indignity: With nowhere else to turn, he becomes a wine blogger.

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