• Market watchers, take heart: The continuing world economic crisis hasn’t dampened some Champagne houses’ enthusiasm for over-the-top displays of decadence. Case in point: “Le Rituel,” Piper-Heidsieck’s collaboration with famed haute couture shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who has created a crystal stiletto heel-shaped “Champagne flute” that Piper-Heidsieck is selling, for about $500, in a fancy shoebox along with a special Louboutin-edition bottle of Champagne Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Brut. The designer was inspired by the female cabaret dancers of Belle Epoque Paris, who would serve sips of Champagne to gentleman admirers from the inside of their dancing shoes, a ritual that was itself inspired by the ballerinas of the Bolshoi Ballet in the 1880s. You may recall that Piper-Heidsieck was also behind the upside-down Champagne bottle, ice bucket and flutes designed by Dutch fashion duo Viktor & Rolf, and before that, a bottle dressed in a red leather corset by Jean-Paul Gaultier. Finally, a sophisticated French answer to Germany’s Oktoberfest "Das Boot" tradition: Vive La Shoe Flute!
Could vineyards be the answer to Afghanistan's poppy fields?.
• When will the world realize wine is the solution to so many of its problems? President Barack Obama is currently meeting with his top national security advisers to rethink America's strategy in Afghanistan. One of the most pressing issues is the country's heroin trade—Afghanistan is the world's largest source of opium poppies. While the Afghan government has tried eradicating poppy fields, it has had little success because poppies are one of the few cash crops farmers there can count on. But according to Pajhwok Afghan News (and you thought Unfiltered just read about wine all day), Kandahar province, once the heartland of the Taliban, exported 40,000 tons of grapes this year, a bumper crop that brought in $8 million. Grapes are nice, but wine can fetch an even higher price. Could wine be Afghanistan's ticket to prosperity? Granted, wine would not be a bestseller in a majority Muslim country, but there is a healthy export market. Unfiltered looks forward to our first chance at tasting an Afghan wine and cheering the peace process.
• One of Long Island's oldest wineries, Palmer Vineyards, is up for sale. Founder Robert Palmer died in January at age 74, and his family has decided the winery would be better off in the hands of someone who can devote themselves fully to the 16,000-case-a-year business. Palmer founded the winery in 1983, seven years after the first vines were planted on the North Fork. The family is selling two properties: A 61-acre parcel with winemaking facilities, a tasting room and a restored 18th-century farmhouse, is for sale at $6.9 million; a vineyard in Cutchogue is available for $3.9 million. While the family is retaining the rights to the brand name, they are open to negotiation for it. So, who wants to be a winemaker? (Presuming you’ve already won Who Wants to be a Millionaire?)
• As if the subject of biodynamic farming principles isn’t complicated enough, just try to fathom the world of biodynamic wine tasting. That’s what the new book, When Wine Tastes Best 2010: A Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers aims to do. Written by German biodynamic maven Maria Thun, the 48-page book pinpoints specific days and even hours when wines are likely to show their best. Like biodynamic farming principles, the principles of tasting are based upon the influence of the moon and constellations on the earth. Each day of the month, and each hour within each day, is categorized as being conducive to the growth of either fruits, flowers, leaves or roots and, according to Thun, wines will taste best if consumed during flower or fruit periods. The calendar begins with December 2009 to give wine drinkers a leg up on the holiday wine drinking season. And just in case you’re curious, Christmas Day is not a particularly auspicious day for opening a prized bottle, but Dec. 27 shows great promise. Sound like poppycock? Don’t tell that to two of the U.K.’s top supermarket chains, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, which use the calendar to determine when to invite critics to taste the wines they sell.
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