Commandaria. A sweet vintage from Cyprus, and probably the oldest named wine in the world.
Concocted in times untold, it was industrialized by the Knights Templar whose presence in Cyprus during the time of the Crusades gave rise to a number of operations. One of of them was Masonry, which became a global brand fraught with mystique and intrigue, or so the lore goes. We’ve all heard the cryptic stories, read the Dan Brown books and watched the Tom Hanks movies, or heard the stories from people who have.
But Commandaria, no one really knows about it, and that’s the problem. How can we know everything there is to know about Masonry and not have the slightest clue about the oldest named wine in the world? How can its story not have been shared among vino enthusiasts and aficionados across the globe?
How can its producers sit idly on this branding goldmine, not promoting the living daylights out of it? It’s a success story waiting to happen, waiting to be developed, marketed and sold round the word according to its world-class potential.
Instead, it lies in relative obscurity unappreciated, underdeveloped, under-promoted and sidelined by ports and sherries from goodness knows where, vintages that would kill to have the historical and marketing value Commandaria comes attached with.
Consider the name: Commandaria! So potent, full of meaning and allusion. It works in a number of languages. It refers to the word ‘command’ and its derivatives, from commander to commando to the essence of leadership and charge, all in a semi-latin, semi-invented kind of way, all while managing to sound fruity and delightful.
An outstanding brand name.
What about the fact that it’s supposed to be the oldest named wine in the world? Did we mention that more than twice already? Still not good enough?
How about the legend claiming that it was King Richard the Lionheart’s favorite vino? You know, King Richard I of England, the guy who spawned all the legends about the British lion, the tradition of bravery in the English nation. He declared Commandaria ‘the wine of kings and the king of wines.’
Still not good enough?
How about the Knights Templar, who supposedly engaged in the production of the Cyprus sweet wine when they established their regional headquarters (Commanderie) in Kolossi, Cyprus, thereby developing the namesake brand.
Could that be turned into a brand-selling story?
How about the fact that Cyprus is home to some of the world’s earliest human settlements? Host to the world’s first water wells (Chirokoitia) and the world’s first recorded example of man/feline cohabitation, not to mention some of the world’s oldest stone figurines, Cyprus is an archeological and cultural wonder. A well of legends, a cornucopia of history. Could these trivia be added to a marketing campaign, declaring Commandaria the world’s paragon wine from an island situated practically in the center of the world — then show everyone a world map, in which Cyprus lies smack in the middle of, almost. The map’s center is in fact somewhere in Libya, but exactitude never stopped the marketing experts from doing what they do best: sell a story that sounds so good, one will prefer it over the cold, hard facts.
Note: this little aside offers insight on how alternative facts work, why people are suddenly opting for them. Something to mull over.
Back to Commandaria:
It doesn’t have to be a dry, comprehensive account. The Commandaria branding exercise, it’s marketing, not a university lecture. One would simply attach the history and geography mentioned above to the Commandaria brand — then craft stories around it. Command people’s attention toward it. Make a webpage to showcase the wineries, the vineyards, the people who make it and the landscape they live on, framing everything with luscious pictures and inspiring music. Gracing them with stories associated with the wine and sprinkling them with fascinating tidbits about how ancient this place is and how rooted in tradition it is, and how one may partake in all that by taking a simple sip of the Commandaria vintage.
It would bring out the element of the ‘world’s oldest named wine’ without breaking a sweat.
Part 2 to follow