• Unfiltered is sad to report that another family-owned vineyard is on the block in Napa, this one being the domain of the Robin Williams family, famous for beloved releases like The Birdcage, Patch Adams, Jumanji, Aladdin and, of course, Death to Smoochy. Villa Soriso, the 653-acre estate nestled into the Mayacamas Mountains, can be yours for $35 million; perks include a 20,000-square-foot Italianate villa with a 12-seat in-house movie theater, a 65-foot-long infinity-edge pool, temp-controlled cellars for your many wines and arts, equestrian facilities, the vineyard and the knowledge that you've shared a bathtub with Mrs. Doubtfire, something you can't really put a price on. Williams recently had himself a wine country wedding at the Meadowood Resort in St. Helena to a San Francisco-based graphic designer. Unfiltered supposes now that Williams has fulfilled three wishes—sobriety ("I did rehab in wine country, to keep my options open," he told CBS), landing a local gal and a wedding under the trellises—there's not much left for Napa to offer. We presume he'll now return to one of his former residences, either a magic lamp or Planet Ork.
• The Shanghai police department reports that they have busted a six-person wine-fraud ring and confiscated 684 bottles of fake Château Margaux and about 4,000 bottles of fake Lafite (worth approximately $1.6 million) in a raid in the Shanghai suburbs. Lafite CEO Christophe Salin expressed his satisfaction to Unfiltered. “This is exactly an example of the work performed between our team, lawyers and local authorities.” Salin was quick to remind Unfiltered that this is a case of trademark infringement—“funny bottles with funny names related to Lafite," rather than real Lafite bottles and labels filled with counterfeit wine. Salin won't rest there, though: “We have a list of people to investigate and/or sue,” he said. The bust followed a tip by an informant last spring, which led to cops seizing hundreds of counterfeit labels, caps and a sealing machine in a business in Fengcheng on April 5. But the ringleader, a certain Mr. Lei, evaded arrest. This time he was collared near his home and confessed to running a scam since April 2010, in which he allegedly bought red wine from Hebei and Shandong provinces and corks, labels and packaging from Guangdong, Shandong and Shanghai. He then resold the “funny bottles” to unsuspecting customers in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Shandong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan and Guangxi. At one hideout, police found 1,678 bottles of funny Lafite and 684 bottles of funny Margaux. Another hideout revealed an additional 2,000+ bottles of funny Lafite. Yang Lieyi, deputy director of the commercial crime department of the Shanghai police, is less than amused. In the first seven months of this year, his team has busted 900 similar affairs, arrested 1,900 suspects in intellectual property crimes and seized counterfeit goods worth $47 million. With all the fake wine label expertise China's detectives are earning, Unfiltered predicts lucrative retirement opportunities in the fine-wine auction market.
• What with the rash of harvesttime thefts over the past few years, Unfiltered wonders if wineries should add "armed mercenary" to the list of winery positions, like in the old days. The victim this time was 90-year-old Stan Planchon, whose family has owned a Zinfandel vineyard in Oakley for more than a century (the vineyard itself is even older at age 180). Eighty-one vines were stripped in the middle of the night—about 1,200 pounds of grapes, or $1,500 worth—by a team of thieves in two trucks before police arrived. Planchon tried to lay down some citizen justice when he realized what was happening, but only managed to block the escape of one truck, which is full of bullet holes (the perps seem not to have made many friends in the area). Planchon's most notable client is Zin heavyweight Rosenblum Cellars. The thieves got away, so winemakers, beware of shady men in a shot-up truck bearing Zinfandel.
Edulis Sa — suisse — August 24, 2012 8:06am ET
Blake Angove — Traverse City, Mi — August 24, 2012 9:54pm ET
Leroy Dutra — Brentwood, Ca. — August 27, 2012 3:08pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions