• Unfiltered attended the premiere party for Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert’s new television series, Avec Eric, atop the roof of Skyline Studios in New York last night. A handful of celebrities from the culinary world were on hand, including Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Martha Stewart (both of whom should be able to offer plenty of advice when it comes to building a successful career on the small screen) as well as Le Bernardin’s own wine director Aldo Sohm. Rather than screening the premiere episode of Avec Eric (which aired in the New York market this past Sunday), however, producer Justin Barocas showed a 10-minute clip of season 1 highlights and outtakes which featured a rain-soaked Ripert admitting to looking for a tree to climb during a wild boar hunt in Tuscany and a hilariously unsuccessful attempt by Ripert to board an oyster boat after checking some Tomales Bay oyster beds. Ripert was of course gracious in the face of so many laughing attendees, especially when the topic of the script came up. According to Barocas the improvised series originally had a script, which had to be abandoned during the filming of the first episode. “I don’t speak English very good,” Ripert joked in his French accent, “and I certainly can’t read it.” Avec Eric is being carried nationally by American Public Television; check your local listings for episode schedules.
• Southern California is still reeling from wildfires that struck the region at the end of August. As fires swept through Los Angeles County’s Big Tujunga Canyon, homeowners rushed to save their belongings, including one resident who managed to protect most of his wine collection, by putting it in his pool. Bert Voorhees, a local civil rights attorney, watched for several days as the blaze at the top of the canyon above his home grew in strength. Then that Saturday, as the fire closed in, his family was ordered to leave. With little time to spare he packed his car with artwork and considered what other items were worth saving. Voorhees says that’s when he thought of his wine collection, and remembered a story he had heard about a man who saved some of his belongings from a fire by throwing them into a pool. Putting the two together, Voorhees submerged eight cases of wine in his own pool. When he returned after the fires had passed, he found his house and other belongings were gone, but the wine was safe. Voorhees later opened a few of the bottles with some friends and ”the wines tasted fine.” He said. Cheers to the creative ingenuity of this California wine lover.
• We all know that there’s a big difference between a pleasure-inducing sip of fortified wine and a pathogen-killing swab of industrial rubbing alcohol, but the clergy in Swedish churches are planning to use the former in the manner of the latter in the name of battling swine flu. According to The Local, an English-language website that reports Swedish news, churches in central and northern Sweden are making plans to replace the table wine used in the Communion sacrament, in which congregants sip from a common chalice during the church service, with higher-alcohol fortified wine. Church officials hope that fortified wine, with its higher percentage of alcohol compared with table wine, will prevent the spread of the swine flu virus. Unfiltered thinks there will be a few Swedes thanking swine flu for the possibility that Vintage Port, Sherry, Madeira and Armagnac might be on tap next Sunday morning, along with spiritual guidance and brotherly love.
Unfiltered is heading to Chicago for this year's flu vaccine.
• For those of us not in Sweden but still concerned about swine flu, a Chicago doctor is trying to make the vaccination process a little bit more relaxing. Dr. Scott Hanlon is teaming up with the South Loop Wine Cellar for a night of shots and flights. For customers interested in the wine-and-vaccine pairing, $40 buys a swine flu inoculation and a flight of five wines. Considering a British dentist already serves Champagne to calm his anxious patients, Unfiltered is now looking forward to tax time next year—surely by then our accountant will have his own wine bar.
• If Unfiltered were the type to anthropomorphize wine, we’d say that dozens of bottles of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling and sparkling wine from Washington and Oregon were unwittingly hindering their own rescue this past week in Wyoming. Propelled by the intense heat of a fire that burned a semi-trailer truck stopped in Wamsutter, Wyo., several of the wines’ corks flew out and hit emergency crews as they worked to contain the flames. Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Scott Keane, quoted by the Associated Press, said "The corks were popping out of the bottles like the old Jiffy Pop we grew up with. My trooper got hit in the arm with one." The heat also caused a number of bottles to shatter, adding to the emergency crews’ challenge in battling the blaze, though it seems that the rescuers may have had their rewards at the end of the day: According to Theresa Herbin, public relations specialist for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the few bottles that weren’t damaged in the fire “disappeared overnight.”
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