• How do you pick a wine fit for a king (to be)? Well, personalized tours of vineyards and wine education centers are a good place to start for England’s Prince Charles. His Royal Highness, who is known to support agricultural and green initiatives, recently traveled to Canada and stopped by Niagara College’s new $3.4 million Wine Visitor & Education Centre to sip a few samples. The school’s faculty were elated to have HRH on hand as they opened Canada's first teaching winery. Niagara College president Dan Patterson called Charles' visit "historic," and the prince was equally enthusiastic, describing the wines as "brilliant.” Let's just hope Prince Charles hadn’t planned his Canadian wine tour in order to find more biofuel for his Aston Martin.
Warriors coach Don Nelson demonstrates the proper technique for coping with a losing season.
• The NBA’s Golden State Warriors recently put down their Gatorade bottles for wine bottles … but just for one night. This past month, the team held Nibbles, Dribbles and Sips, a food and wine event for their season-ticket holders. More than 2,000 fans, many dressed in Warriors jerseys, sampled plates and tastes from more than 40 local restaurants and California wineries. Head coach Don Nelson and the Warrior Girls worked the room, tasting the latest vintages from California wineries including Groth, Truchard and Robert Biale, while team members Stephen Curry, Mikki Moore and Devean George answered questions and posed for photos. As for the grub? Chef Charles Phan of Slanted Door restaurant put together the roster of contributors, including Heaven’s Dog, Boulevard, Ozumo and That Takes the Cake. But this Oracle Arena-sized event didn’t just satiate fans, it also benefited San Francisco’s Meals on Wheels program. Putting your most valued fans together with great wine, great food and a great charity sounds like a slam dunk to Unfiltered.
Rob Lowe's character is amazed at how simple overnight success in the wine business is ... on TV
• Unfiltered is known to snuggle up with a glass of wine to watch ABC’s hit drama Brothers and Sisters on Sunday nights, so we were delighted to see Wine Spectator get a shout-out on this past weekend’s episode. The show, which centers around the Walker family, who run the fictitious Ojai Food Co., a produce distributor in Southern California, often features cast members (including actors Sally Field, Rachel Griffiths, Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe) indulging in a glass of wine. In the episode titled “The Wine Festival,” the family decides to launch a value wine overnight and enters it into the Golden State Wine Festival. We were sure we could hear winemakers everywhere giggling at how easy they made it sound—getting the TTB to approve a label alone can take months—but as is bound to happen in TV-land (spoiler alert!) everything turned out OK and the wine won the table wine category. During the show, they imagined their label appearing in Wine Spectator, and later were excited that the fictional “Jennifer Knox” from Wine Spectator was going to write a feature about them. No surprise, behind the mention is ABC president Steve McPherson, a vintner and avid wine collector.
• The gift-intensive holidays are just around the corner, so if you’ve got one of those difficult-to-please wine collectors on your shopping list, consider getting yourself to the Reeman Dansie auction house in Colchester, England, later this month, where a magnum of Moët & Chandon Brut Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon 1961 will be auctioned. What makes this already-prized bottle particularly noteworthy is that it is one of 12 that were specially packaged for the 1981 royal wedding of Prince Charles to the late Princess Diana. Six of the 12 magnums were donated to charity, while the remaining six were presented to the royal household. The bottle in question was later given as a 50th birthday gift in 1988 to Harrods manager Brian Ames. The 1961 vintage was chosen for the wedding both because it was a notable vintage, and because it was the year of Lady Di’s birth. While the bottle’s royal provenance should be enough to drive up its selling price, it should be noted that the attempted 2004 auction of another bottle from the series failed to meet its $1,929 reserve.
• Anyone anxious to own a piece of Paris’ legendary La Tour d’Argent wine cellar will have the opportunity Dec. 7 and 8, when 18,000 bottles from the restaurant’s 450,000-bottle collection go on the block at Piasa auctioneers in Paris. Selected by head sommelier David Ridgway, the consignment embraces all of France’s major wine regions, with several vintages from the 19th century. Provenance is pristine, as the offerings were acquired directly from the properties. Ridgway explained the sale will free up needed cellar space. American bidders should target individual rarities that infrequently crop at commercial auctions because of the expense involved in shipping case lots. Piasa will facilitate export procedures, and there could be some values to be had: Château Cheval-Blanc 1928 is estimated at $1,050 to $1,200 per bottle, well below the $2,092 average listed in the current Wine Spectator Auction Index, and Château Gruaud-Larose 1870 is estimated at $1,350 $1,500 per bottle (for which the last recorded price in the index was $4,780 in the second quarter of 2008). Unfiltered calls that a wine buyer’s market.
Guy Delorme — Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada — November 21, 2009 3:15pm ET
Lorenzo Erlic — victoria canada — November 22, 2009 9:29am ET
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