• It's been a while since Unfiltered checked in on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but now we're back to breathlessly report that the longtime couple will serve their own wine at their planned September wedding. As per our last report, nearly four years ago, the couple and their children lease a residence at Château Miraval, an organic winery in Provence that produces a rosé called Pink Floyd, named in honor of the band, which recorded parts of their album The Wall at the château in the 1970s, when it was home to a music studio. The British Sun newspaper reported Tuesday that among the Burgundies, Bordeauxs and Champagnes to be served at the wedding will be bottles of Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé Pink Floyd 2011. Pitt is known to be quite a wine connoisseur, and although he has apparently been too busy to get hands-on with the winemaking at Miraval, a source told the Sun that Pitt has been boosting his knowledge, completing a wine steward's course earlier this year. (Just in case the millionaire actor thing doesn't pan out?)
• As the great majority of Champagne is sold in November and December, and there's not much for the houses to do until the grapes come in for crush, Champagne makers have taken to suing or threatening to sue each other over petty matters as a fun summer diversion. Earlier this month, Bruno Paillard indignantly accused Champagne Bollinger of redesigining its bottle as a "servile copy" of Paillard's own sort-of-distinctive bottle, which has a slightly concave neck, in part to "increase the exchange surface between the wine and the lees." In a press release, Paillard asked himself, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery? But Paillard wasn't so sure: "Maybe, but in such case one can also consider it a servile copy. Which does not make me feel flattered but attacked to tell the truth." Bollinger claimed its new bottle is actually a throwback to the style of one they found in its own cellars from 1846. The Unfiltered lab has examined both bottles and concluded that they do indeed bear an uncanny resemblance to one another—and to all other Champagne bottles.
Meanwhile, Champagne powerhouse LVMH—which owns Moët, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Ruinart and Mercier, among others—has filed suit against Armand de Brignac, maker of the lovably tacky, new-money, gold-plated "Ace of Spades" bottle, inspired almost definitely by the Mötorhead thrash-metal classic of the same name. The crime? "Intentionally misleading consumers" by advertising itself as "rated the number one Champagne in the world," asterisk, according to Finland's Fine Champagne Magazine in 2010. Moët Hennessy USA filed the suit in Manhattan, griping that the 2011 and 2012 editions of said Finnish magazine actually rated the Ace of Spades lower, so because of egregious false advertising, Armand de Brignac owes LVMH all of its profits. All the profits. No one would have ever bought Ace of Spades if they knew its secret sordid truth, which is that, in some years, it was not the No. 1-rated Champagne, in a Finnish magazine. Never mind that Ace of Spades' enthusiastic following includes the world's most successful rapper Jay-Z; world's fastest human, Usain Bolt, and world champions in just about every major American sport. Once the case is settled, Unfiltered looks forward to the Manhattan Federal Court finally ruling, once and for all, which is really the best pizza in New York.
• After months of headlines lamenting lost crops, skyrocketing beef prices and other culinary casualties, at last, some good news from the drought-stricken Midwest. Wineries in all 12 Midwestern states are predicting the unusually hot, dry conditions will deliver a standout crop this year—casting a hard-earned spotlight on a region better known for corn and soybeans than great wine. “Assuming we don’t get walloped by this tropical storm this week, we’re set up for a really nice vintage,” said Ron Barrett, who owns Kinkead Ridge Winery in southwestern Ohio. Barrett’s experience reflects the opinions of other vintners across the nation’s midsection, who told Unfiltered that the extremely dry post-bloom period resulted in smaller berries with higher skin-to-juice ratios which, ideally, should translate to more complexity in the bottle. While hot, dry weather may mean riper grapes than normal for the Midwest, Ron Edwards, a master sommelier based in northern Michigan, cautioned that extreme heat and drought is too much of a good thing—causing vines to shut down all non-essential functions, which could inhibit the maturation and flavor development in the grapes. But Barrett isn’t worried by that: “We don’t have drought problems because we have fantastic soils—calcareous clay on broken limestone that’s never been glaciated,” he said. Most of the Midwest is characterized by alluvial soils, which let root systems dig deep to find water when needed. And Edwards is not willing to write these hardworking underdogs off. “Great winemakers always find a way to make great wine,” he said.