• 2009 was a good year for Beaujolais Nouveau, a fact that wasn’t lost on multitalented starlet Holly Madison, who was on hand just before Thanksgiving at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino to usher in the Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau festival. Unfiltered readers may recognize Madison, currently headlining a topless revue in Vegas, from the educational (isn’t that what “E!” stands for?) reality-television program The Girls Next Door, featuring Madison as one of Hugh Hefner’s “girlfriends.” Though it may have been enough for the former Playboy bunny to just show up and drink some Beaujolais, Madison threw herself into the occasion, reenacting a classic I Love Lucy scene by stomping grapes in a wooden vat while dressed as a French peasant girl and accompanied by a Lucille Ball impersonator. Madison even told the Las Vegas Sun that she’s been studying French with a private tutor for several months, though she may want to seek out the help of a wine professional, too: When asked what “Beaujolais Nouveau” meant, she ventured, “It means new beautiful something.”
Unfiltered promises François Lurton is enjoying this glass of wine at the end of a practice run, not beforehand ...
• Winemakers are known to pursue unusual hobbies outside the bottle, whether fronting rock bands a la Robert Foley to flying fighter jets around New Zealand to drafting the Declaration of Independence. Add to that list Frenchman François Lurton's off-road rally racing. Lurton, a fifth-generation member of the Bordeaux family of vintners that shares his name, will race next month in the South American Dakar, a 14-day, 6,000-mile rally through Argentina and Chile. Though Lurton is an amateur driver, he does have a home-field advantage, as he owns estates in both countries on the course, Vina Haciena Araucano in Chile and Bodega François Lurton in Argentina. Lurton's 2-wheel-drive Audi V6 diesel-engine buggy revs up on Jan. 2, with head enologist Guillaume Martineau riding shotgun. If the desert joyride goes well enough, François could be the first-ever driver to supply his own bubbly in the victory circle.
Becky Gates enjoys a perk of being married to the Secretary of Defense.
• When christening the new U.S.S. Missouri, Unfiltered thinks it makes sense to do so with some Missouri wine. This past week at the Groton, Conn., Navy base, 162-year-old Stone Hill winery's Blanc de Blancs 2001 brut sparkling wine, made primarily from Vidal grapes, was ceremoniously smashed in honor of the force's newest Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine. And this wasn’t the first time a Missouri sparkler engaged an armed vessel: In 1901, the Stone Hill Pearl of Missouri sparkling wine was used to christen the first U.S.S. Missouri. "This is an incredible honor for the entire Held family," winery manager Jon Held said. "The 2001 is the vintage that's exactly 100 years after the original sparkling wine, and it participated in the christening for a battleship with the state's name again." Cheers to a century of Missouri sparkling wine and supporting the troops.
If you're still hunting for the perfect gift for Unfiltered this holiday season, we wouldn't object to a plate from our favorite châteaus.
• Still shopping for that wine lover in your family? Perhaps you should consider the series of 19th-century copper plates, featuring prominent and not-so-prominent Bordeaux estates, that will go on sale next week in Paris. Laurie Matheson, wine specialist at Artcurial, a leading French auction firm, says the plates were produced between 1850 and 1908 for various 19th-century editions of Bordeaux et Ses Vins, a guide to the estates of Bordeaux. Matheson says the guide was the “first real mapping of Bordeaux winemaking chateaus.” Originally published in London in 1846 under the title Bordeaux: Its Wines, and the Claret Country, the guide was intended to introduce wine-loving Brits to the finer points of Bordeaux and its wines. Its author, Charles Cocks, an Englishman, moved to Bordeaux in 1840, whereupon he collaborated with a Bordeaux publishing firm, Feret, to create a French version in 1850. The plates will be on view next Wednesday and Thursday, and the auction will take place next Friday at the Hotel Marcel Dassault in Paris. Matheson says prices for first-growth plates range from 2,500 to 3,000 euros, second-growths should garner about 2,000 euros each, and lesser growths will be available in the triple digits.
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