• It was Ladies Night every day this past week in New York at City Winery. Divinale: Women of Wine Week was held there in honor of International Women's Day, March 8. The six-day series of events included an eight-wine tasting with Castello Banfi's Cristina Mariani-May, a cooking and wine pairing class with chef Anne Burrell, and a finale grand tasting with proceeds going to the Global Fund for Women, a charity that provides funds to women’s organizations around the world. On Friday, winemaker Alessia Antinori of the Antinori wine family in Tuscany led a lunch and tasting of Antinori wines. Antinori is one of three sisters set to take over the family-run business, which has been making wine for 600 years. With the success that Antinori has had, Unfiltered hopes they serve to inspire more women to add their touch to the worldwide wine industry.• Ribolla Gialla may be a popular grape in northeastern Italy’s Friuli region, but it is vinifera non grata to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Massican Winery’s Dan Petroski learned the hard way that the grape is not a recognized domestic variety and cannot be labeled as such, after he had bottled and labeled 351 cases of it. The Napa vintner is now fighting to appeal the TTB’s rejection of his blends’ labels, and he has precedent on his side: The agency has been known to make exemptions for small ventures and honest mistakes. Still, the debacle is surprising on face, considering that the USDA’s California Crush Report validates the grape’s existence in the U.S., Ribolla has been imported from Friuli for decades, and the variety has been grown and bottled in Napa by George Vare of Luna Vineyards since 2004. (Vare’s vineyard is the source of Massican’s grapes, as well as those of seven other wineries gearing up to release Ribolla wines. “I just happen to be the first one to have to deal with the legal implications,” Petroski told Unfiltered.) Though Massican’s initial appeal failed, Petroski is hopeful about his follow-up petition to the TTB’s Regulations Division. If it is rejected, he will have to relabel his artful Ribolla-Chardonnay-Tocai Friuliano and Ribolla-Chardonnay-Viognier blends as ho-hum “Napa Valley White Wine,” a major expense added to what has already been a strain. Said Petroski, “It’s a financial hardship. I have to relabel the wines, I have to ask for an exemption in the state of California, I have to postpone the release of the wine until all these legalities come to pass. It wasn’t in the master plan. The goal was to make wine and release it and hope that people will enjoy it.”
• Unfiltered knows all about the Napa Wine Train, but we were surprised last week to hear about a somewhat more inadvertent wine train running the rails down in New Zealand. On March 12, a KiwiRail train hauling tankers full of wine bound for a bottling facility in Auckland was derailed near the town of Tokomaru. One of the overturned wine tankers was pierced on its way down, releasing much of its vinous content onto the tracks and surrounding area and causing cancellations and rerouting for passengers commuting from Palmerston North to Wellington. Peter Burke, a spokesman for Horizons, a local environmental protection council, told the U.K.’s Telegraph that most of the wine found its way to a drain, adding, “There were no drunken sheep and cows,” and that nearby farmers should not expect their grazing livestock to experience “a sudden flush of wine in their milk.” As Unfiltered is a big fan of so-called “drunken” cheeses like Ubriaco, we find Burke’s statement less a reassurance than a potentially wasted opportunity.
• The devastation after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile in late February sparked an outpouring of international support and the wine industry wants to do their part too. To aid in the relief efforts, online retailer Wine.com has put together a list of Chilean wines under $25 and will donate $100 for every twelve bottles they sell for the rest of this month. The money will go to Hogar de Christo and Un Techo para Chile, two local non-profits equipped to help earthquake victims. There’s no minimum purchase per customer—even buying just one bottle will help the tally, which Wine.com hopes will come to $100,000.
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