• Unfiltered didn’t make it to President Barack Obama’s second state dinner last night. (The White House security was on high alert after some uninvited guests crashed the first party.) But we did manage to get the inside scoop on the wine being poured. Valdez Family Chardonnay Russian River Valley Silver Eagle Vineyard 2008 and Mumm Napa Santana Napa Valley NV sparkling wine were served with Mexican cuisine prepared by Chicago chef Rick Bayless. The dinner was held in honor of Mexican President Felipe Calderón and his wife, Margarita Zavala, and included guests such as comedian George Lopez, actress Whoopi Goldberg and New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Winery owner Ulises Valdez told Unfiltered that he was ecstatic to the point of tears when White House staff called to tell him that his wine would be poured at the event. “Our name is going to be on the table that so many great presidents sat and ate at, including my hero, President [Ronald] Reagan,” he said. Born in a small village in the Mexican state of Michoacán, Valdez crossed the border in 1985. He worked the vineyards in Sonoma in constant fear of being deported until President Reagan granted him, and 2.7 million other illegal immigrants, amnesty in 1986 with the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
• Exciting wine and soccer news came to light this week as the World Cup in South Africa nears. Chile’s Concha y Toro, maker of the high-end Don Melchor Cabernets, has announced a partnership with the world’s most popular soccer club, Manchester United. Beginning in August 2010, Concha y Tora will be featured prominently at Manchester United home games, both on billboards at Old Trafford as well as in the stadium’s lounges and bars. Man U skipper and noted wine aficionado Sir Alex Ferguson said in a statement, “This is a partnership that unites the two great passions of South America, football and wine. I’m looking forward to it.
• Ever dreamt of walking in the same footsteps of the late, great Robert Mondavi? How about making coffee in his kitchen? Or playing tennis on one of his two courts? Well, now you can, provided you've got a spare $25 million. His legendary "Wappo Hill" home, designed by Robert Mondavi Winery architect Cliff May in 1979, is up for sale. There are no vineyards, but the 55-acre spread, located near Yountville, Calif., comes equipped with an indoor pool, wine cellar and guesthouse.
• The problem with mailing wine in a paper bag is that the bottle will break and make a mess all over everyone’s Hanukkah cards, prison pen pal notes and socks bought on eBay; the problem with discarding large quantities of polystyrene foam is that the ozone layer will break and make a mess all over everyone’s endangered penguins, coastal cities and unshielded eyeballs. Up until now, we’ve had to accept the lesser of two evils, and so we’ve shipped wine in environmentally deleterious foam containers. But perhaps no longer, with the new WineLoc packaging from ACH Foam Technologies. While most foam packaging is 0 percent to 30 percent recycled material, the WineLoc containers are 60 percent reclaimed from junk foam. The WineLocs failed a lot of drop tests before foam scientists figured out how to maximize their structural integrity (which is now equal to the best of ozone-munching foam cases). Somewhere deep in a basement vault at the ACH Foam facility no doubt lie a slew of hilarious blooper tapes, and Unfiltered is happy they went through the trouble.
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