• Today is opening day for the 2011 Major League Baseball season, and it kicks off with two new charity wines from a pair of Boston Red Sox pitchers. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are joining a long list of other baseball stars who have lent their names to Longball Cellars’ charity wines, including Phillies catcher Brian Schneider, Astros outfielder Bobby Abreu, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, Mets pitcher Johan Santana and shortstop Jose Reyes, Red Sox pitchers Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and former Sox stars Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling. The two new wines, Buchholz’ ChardonClay and Lester’s CabernAce, will benefit the Jimmy Fund and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, respectively. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sales of each $14 bottle will be donated to those charities.
• This week New York City welcomed the president of Italy in celebration of 150 years of Italian unification. Relax, no need to lock up your daughters, it’s not that Italian politician (Berlusconi is the prime minister). Gotham is instead hosting the distinguished President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. Kicking off the week in New York, on Sunday, Napolitano received two bottles of “Una,” white and red wines commissioned by Veronafiere (hosts of the annual Vinitaly wine fair) in honor of the Risorgimento. Each wine is a blend of 20 single-variety white or red wines sourced from around the country by each region’s Minister of Agriculture. The top-secret blends, presided over by a panel of pros chosen by the Italian Enologist and Enotechnicians Association, include obvious choices, such as Sangiovese from Tuscany, and the ultra-esoteric, a Tintilia from the tiny province Molise. Accomplished Italian architect Aldo Cibic fashioned the sleek bottles. The idea for a unification wine was announced at last year’s Vinitaly fair, when Veronafiere president Ettore Riello suggested the idea to Napolitano. And what would His Excellency like to pair with his wine? When asked his favorite dish on Tuesday evening at the NYU School of Law, the president responded “unsurprisingly, spaghetti!” Unfiltered suggests the red.
• The newest partner with fashion brand (Product) RED is Penfolds, one of Australia’s oldest and most well-respected wineries. Encouraging wine lovers to “Save the world, one bottle at a time,” the collaboration marks the first time that (RED) has teamed up with a wine company. Since its launch in 2006, the organization has raised more than $160 million for the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and has helped more than 5 million people through (RED)-supported grants. This year, two lines of wines will wear the Penfolds (RED) label, namely Koonunga Hill—which includes a Shiraz-Cabernet blend, a Chardonnay, a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon—and the Thomas Hyland label, made up of South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, Adelaide Shiraz, Adelaide Chardonnay, and Adelaide Reisling. During the three 60-day promotional periods, which will take place throughout March/April, July/August and November/December, 15 percent of all proceeds from the wines, priced from $12 to $15, will be donated to the Global Fund to help finance HIV/AIDS programs.
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