Much like in 2008, we here at Unfiltered showed you a lot of pretty faces this year. (And no surprise—you liked them!) Our second installment of the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation’s Little Black Dress Wines, featuring a lovely photo of Jaime-Lynn Sigler, took top honors among Unfiltered topics this year. But no one’s face graced this column more frequently than the president’s in 2009. Barack Obama is easily the most talked about Unfiltered subject of the past two years, and that’s a trend we’ll expect to continue in 2010.
We’re looking forward to putting 2009 in the past, but we’ll take some fond memories with us. The Girl Next Door made some Beaujolais in Vegas, Shaq Diesel had a slam dunk when he converted to biodiesel, Jess Jackson had another champion at the track and Scarlett Johansson was striking as the “Hollywood face" of Champagne producer Moët & Chandon. Enjoy our look at Unfiltered’s 10 most popular stories of 2009, and we’ll see you in 2010. Cheers!
• Making the top 10 list for the second year in a row, Clothes Off Our Back Foundation's Little Black Dress Wines and celebrity auction brought together Jaime-Lynn Sigler, Sharon Stone and Julianne Moore to benefit the charity and 2009 partner YouthAIDS. The foundation, started by Bottle Shock actor Bradley Whitford and Malcolm in the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek, supports children's causes around the world by auctioning off little black dresses worn by red-carpet regulars. Unfiltered was glad to see Sigler getting into the charity game after so many years portraying Meadow Soprano, daughter of Mafia kingpin Tony Soprano. This should make up for all those cases of Château Pichon-Longueville-Lalande her TV dad stole from that biker gang. Now what to do about those Entourage boys?
Posted Jan. 8, 2009
Cheers to better times in 2010.
• President Barack Obama took office in 2009, and it hasn’t taken him long to become by far the most featured non-wine industry person ever to appear in the web pages of Unfiltered. At the president’s official Inaugural Luncheon in January, Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2007 was served with a seafood stew, and Goldeneye Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2005 was served with the duck breast and pheasant course. In fact, Unfiltered already had enough on Obama at the time to run a special all-Barack edition. And that was before he and First Lady Michelle drank Hugel with French President Nikolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, in Strasbourg, France, made a commitment to organic wine and agriculture and celebrated winning the Nobel Peace Prize with a glass of Robert Mondavi Cabernet. Unfiltered predicts we’ll see the Commander in Chief again soon on these pages, perhaps after slipping a “mandatory glass of red wine a day” amendment into that health-care reform package.
Posted Jan. 22, 2009
Unfiltered will be more nervous for Lindsey Vonn after she wins a gold medal in Vancouver next year.
• Unfiltered will be cheering for World champion American downhill skier Lindsey Vonn at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. In 2009 she made news in February after winning two gold medals at the world championships in Val d'Isere and attempting to celebrate with a bottle of Champagne. In what can only be described as a bizarre snow-ski sabering incident, Vonn sliced through a tendon in her thumb after attempting to grab the neck of the bottle. We expect at least a gold medal or two from the top-ranked American, and we’ll be keeping our eye on how she celebrates. Maybe she’s even taken our advice to make sure she always has at least one master sommelier in her entourage at all times.
Posted Feb. 26, 2009
• Unfiltered loves football season as much as the next guy, and apparently our readers do, too. Perhaps the most commented on story ever for Unfiltered was the overview of football stars past and present now in the winemaking business. While we managed to include Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Drew Bledsoe and Dick Vermeil, among many others, we inevitably left a few off the list, and Unfiltered’s knowledgeable readers let us know it. Riding the bench were Mike Ditka, Penn State star Gary Eberle and quarterback Rick Mirer, but College Football Hall of Famer Terry Hoage was the cause of the most outcry. We even heard from Hoage himself! Since we left him out, we’ll let him tell you what we forgot: “It would have been nice to get some love down here in Paso Robles … I have personally been making world-class wine since 2002. My wife, Jennifer, and I do all the viticulture and winemaking ourselves. We were tutored by Justin Smith of Saxum. I spent 13 years in the NFL with one Super Bowl victory and won a national title with Georgia,” Hoage wrote. Unfiltered’s 2010 resolution: Never again forget to include a man who spent 13 years knocking down other very large men for a living.
Posted Sept. 24, 2009
• Forget about that 2010 calendar of Playboy girls or Playgirl guys. Take a look at 14 members of the Napa County Farm Bureau (NCFB) in the buff, covered only by winery-related items in the sensitive spots. The calendar isn't the first. The trend began with a group of French vignerons releasing a nude calendar to help promote the wines of the Côtes du Bourg appellation. The NCFB, a non-profit organization, produced "Napa Uncovered" in 2008, selling out all 2,000 copies in two months. The 2010 version features representatives from wineries such as Schramsberg holding different winery or farm props—everything from enormous bottles of wine, a bundle of vines, and a dead goose—strategically placed in front of their "grapes."
Posted June 25, 2009
• The aforementioned Napa County Farm Bureau calendar wasn’t banned anywhere that we know of, but Bill Legion's wine was yanked from shelves in Alabama. The state deemed his wine Cycles Gladiator to have a "pornographic" label. But he couldn’t be happier. "The publicity from this is so much greater than any wine we'd ship to Alabama," said Legion, president of Hahn Family Wines in Soledad, Calif. The wine label, a replica of an 1895 French bicycle advertisement, features a fanciful image of a nude woman flying alongside a bike amid a star-filled sky. The control board not only forbade it, but asked the winery to never submit the label again as it "offended people in the office," according to Legion. But banning wine labels and banning things in general in Alabama is nothing new. Nearly half the state is dry. And it recently outlawed the sale of sex toys, too.
Posted Aug. 6, 2009
• Englishman and rock music icon Sting got into the wine business. He announced plans to release 30,000 bottles of two red wines next fall that will be produced using fruit from his 300-hectare, organically-farmed estate in Tuscany, Tenuta del Palagio. The estate sports a 16th-century villa, swimming pool, several small lakes, olive groves and, of course, a recording studio. But according to Riccardo Nocentini, the mayor of nearby Figline Valdarno, the former Police front man is a "serious farmer" who employs 15 permanent staff plus seasonal workers during harvest. It's really no surprise. Sting, a longtime supporter of environmental causes, uses the wines (as well as the honey and olive oil produced on the property under the Il Palagio Sumner Family label) to showcase the rural Tuscan biodiversity and agriculture.
Posted March 19, 2009
• Beauty queen Laetitia Bléger may have had to give up her Miss France 2004 crown for posing in French Playboy that year, but that didn’t stop her from her next venture: winemaker. Her first bottling, called Précieux (Precious), is a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer from Domaine de Windmuehl, the Alsace estate where her father, Claude Bléger, makes white and red wines. There's no label on the traditional Alsace-style bottle, but there is a serigraphic image of a slender and attractive woman. That, along with its cellar-door price of $17.50, has helped Précieux make its way onto the wine lists of several Parisian restaurants.
Posted July 2, 2009
It'll be safety first for vineyard workers in California wildfire country in 2010.
• It’s not all scantily clad models and football stars here at Unfiltered though, and in 2009 we nervously watched as wildfires chewed up acres of the California hillside, threatening several wine regions. And it was again to our dismay when we learned that winery employees might have been the culprit behind one of the largest blazes of 2009. The Gloria fire started just east of the town of Soledad, in California’s Salinas Valley and burned more than 6,000 acres. Fire investigators believe the fire was a result of so-called “bird bombs” used in vineyards to scare away hungry birds trying to feast on ripening grapes. Unfiltered can think of a few New Year’s resolutions for vineyard workers in wildfire country this year …
Posted Sept. 3, 2009
• Britain's Prince Charles seemed to be all over the wine world this year, literally. First Unfiltered covered his trip with the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles to Chile, where the pair discussed sustainable and organic farming with winemaker Álvaro Espinoza at Viñedos Emiliana. But Their Royal Highnesses didn't leave without a few sips of wine and a private tour of the biodynamic winery (no bioethanol-fueled Aston Martin required). Later this year, Unfiltered caught a solo Prince Charles stopping by Canada's Niagara College to view its new $3.4 million Wine Visitor & Education Centre. It's the country's first teaching winery, and needless to say, the faculty was elated to have the royal company. He even described the wines as "brilliant."
Posted March 12, 2009
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