• It’s that time of year again, when athletes and celebrities don their country-club finest to shake things up at the annual American Century Golf Championship and third-annual Korbel Celebrity Spray-Off in Lake Tahoe. The real shake-up, however, was in the list of winners. Unlike the previous two years, in which the invited athletes prevailed in both the long drive and sparkling wine cork distance competitions, this year, both contests were won by actors. Brian Baumgartner, who plays oafish, slow-talking Kevin on NBC’s hit sitcom The Office, was named spray-off champion for blasting his cork an impressive 75 feet, while Alfonso Ribeiro, best known as uptight Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, used his 333-yard drive to win the long-drive contest. Other notables on hand included actor Jack Wagner, singer Michael Bolton and former Vice President Dan Quayle. Boxer Oscar de la Hoya was particularly enthusiastic with his 50-foot pop. NBA greats Michael Jordan and Jason Kidd, NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Marcus Allen, and baseball’s Greg Maddux and Mark Mulder were among the dozens of notable athletes participating in the event, which ran from July 13 to 18. Partnering with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the American Century Championship has helped make possible donations of more than $75,000 to Lake Tahoe-area non-profit organizations this year. And that’s as good a reason to do “the Carlton” as any.
• When we advise readers to “hold” a bottle of wine, we don’t necessarily mean for 230 years. And when we recommend it be stored in a cool, humid place, the bottom of the ocean is not our intention. But such aging conditions seem to have worked out just fine for 30 bottles of Champagne discovered recently by a group of Swedish divers near a shipwreck on the floor of the Baltic Sea. From the markings on the corks, it appears that the bottles may be Veuve Cliquot (as of today, a Moët representative is still unable to confirm that they are), which could make them some 230 years old (Veuve was first made in 1772, and production halted during the French Revolution), easily the oldest known Champagne bottles in the world. Records show that a ship bearing bubbly from King Louis XVI to the Russian imperial court never made it, but the tsar’s loss is some Swedish dudes’ gain: Experts estimate that if the bottles can be verified as having belonged to Louis XVI, they could be worth millions. That might give the divers, who immediately popped a bottle, some cause for regret, though both they and a local wine connoisseur described the bubbly as tasting "absolutely fabulous." Unfiltered is skeptical, and recommends giving it at least another 500 years before drinking.
• When Dr. Andy Anderson, a corporate historian at Wells Fargo bank, first contacted the Herzog family, owners of the largest kosher winery in the United States, with news of his find, family members were stunned. As a part of a program to romance valued corporate clients, Anderson had unearthed a valuable piece of Herzog family history: a passenger manifest from a 1948 Pan American Airways flight from Prague to New York. Eight members of the Herzog family were on that flight, fleeing their home in Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Communist takeover. The family had already lost their winery and brewery and much of their fortune in the Holocaust, and they were bound for a new life in the United States. On board the flight were Phillip and Herman Herzog, now both vice presidents of the Royal Wine Corporation, and Ernest Herzog, late father of Joseph Herzog, general manager at the family’s Oxnard winery. "It is such a special and unbelievable surprise to have found this document," Joseph Herzog told Unfiltered. "And for us to be able to share this piece of history with the visitors who come to the winery—it’s truly priceless." On Aug. 4, Anderson will make a formal presentation of the manifest to members of the Herzog family at their California winery. The document will then hang in the winery’s upstairs hallway where it can be viewed by visitors on the winery’s self-guided tour.
A floral arrangement greets riders at the start of Saturday's Tour de France time trial in Bordeaux.
• The vineyards of the Médoc will take center “stage” this Saturday as the cyclists of the Tour de France make their way through Bordeaux in the event’s penultimate leg. The cyclists will sprint over a distance of 32 miles, passing by the properties of over 100 châteaus via villages including Cantenac, Margaux and Beychevelle, before arriving at the finish line along the wharfs in Pauillac. The itinerary is a first in the 97-year history of the race. It was finally accepted by its organizers after years of lobbying on the behalf of Médoc winegrowers. Unlike in the Médoc Marathon, however, the contestants will not be offered the opportunity to fully appreciate the charms of the area. After the race they will immediately head to Longjumeau, just south of Paris, for the final dash on Sunday ending on the Champs-Elysées, where spectators are hoping the winner will arrive once again sipping Champagne. No word yet on whether Garmin-Transitions coach Jonathan Vaughters will be making a return trip to Châteauneuf-du-Pape next week.
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