• Tennis and wine fans will appreciate that there's plenty of Champagne on hand at the U.S. Open now that Moët & Chandon is sponsoring the event for the second year in a row. As a warm-up to this year's grand slam event in Queens, N.Y., the Champagne house hosted the first annual Moët & Chandon Tennis Cup for wine pros at Arthur Ashe Stadium this past July. Moët VP Ludovic du Plessis spectated while sommeliers and bartenders from more than a dozen top New York restaurants and hotels served their way through a round-robin style tournament, with Gramercy Park Hotel's Sebastien LeFavre clearly the day's biggest winner—he left with the Cup champ's magnum of Moët & Chandon Imperial in hand and model Katy Beal on his arm. Of course, Moët's sponsorship isn't just about beautiful people and fancy Champagnes: Moët & Chandon also supports USTA Serves, a charity that benefits at-risk children and people with disabilities through tennis. Celebrities passing through the Moët & Chandon suite at the U.S. Open this week are signing a jeroboam of Imperial bedazzled with a crystal U.S. Open logo. The oversized signed bottle will then be shipped off to Moët's Château de Saran in Epernay and auctioned for USTA Serves.
We're fervent proponents of the "there's no wrong time for Champagne" philosophy, but last night at the U.S. Open was particularly worthy of celebration, albeit a bittersweet one. Longtime Unfiltered favorite and 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick played his last tennis match and bid the crowd a tearful goodbye. We always admired his mischievous streak, evident to the end as he eyed a different kind of bubbly for his retirement party: "I'm probably not going to be opposed to a beer or 10," he said after his final match. "We'll see how that goes." Unfiltered suspects Roddick slept in this morning. And he earned it.
• Great Britain's Prince Harry of Wales, third in line to rule the empire on which the sun sometimes sets, was recently caught up in a bit of a donnybrook following a diplomatic assignment to Las Vegas, the American capital of games of chance and traditional pilgrimage site for betrothed dames and their ladies-in-waiting. In a moment of revelry with local womenfolk, the prince had shed his royal vestments and under-vestments and became the unknowing subject of some very candid portraiture. One enterprising English wine merchant, however, felt the young prince's artistic nudes deserved appreciation and commissioned artist Dan Lacey—celebrated in the American territories for his paintings of dignitaries like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, with pancakes on their heads (Google at your own risk)—to render a wine label of the defrocked Harry for his "Royal Blush" rosé bottle. (The wine is sourced from France, but is sold by Peter Creek under the label of his store, Sheldon's Wine Cellars.) Since the debut of Royal Blush, sales of the wine have ascended 200 percent. Creek admitted to a local paper, however, "We haven’t had any calls from St. James’ Palace as yet," a reference to the royal residence where Prince Harry typically dispatches the clothed duties of state.
• Times are changing for our wine-loving neighbors to the north. As we reported in July, new laws in Canada are making it legal for residents to have wine shipped directly to their homes in some provinces, most notably British Columbia, home to Canada's Okanagan Valley wine region. It now looks like Ontario could be the next to open its borders. Ontario parliament member Rob Milligan has introduced Private Members' Bill 117, which would clear up the confusion in the province (some experts claim Ontario already permits direct shipping, because there is no law expressly forbidding it, although the Liquor Control Board of Ontario disagrees) and permit Ontarians to have wine for personal consumption shipped to their homes. Time to call your MPP, Ontario!
• Almond Roca lovers of the world, rejoice? Tacoma, Wash.-based candy company Brown & Haley (remember "Brown & Haley makes 'em daily"?), makers of popular Almond Roca chocolate toffee candy since 1923, has joined forces with Seattle-based Precept Wine to give us Almond Roca Cream, an indulgent cream-based dessert wine. According to Brown & Haley CEO Pierson Clair, the product "captures the very essence of our Almond Roca Buttercrunch in a silky dessert wine." Precept suggests serving the wine iced, at room temperature, laced into your coffee or poured over ice cream and pairing the wine with cakes, cookies, pie, chocolate or savory snacks such as chips or crackers, biscotti and scones or spicy Asian foods (so, really, do pretty much whatever you want with it). Precept also makes Chocolate Shop Wine, a chocolaty dessert wine using only natural flavors. The top-secret formula of Almond Roca, which is priced at $15 a bottle, was co-created by Brown & Haley and Precept winemaker Hal Landvoigt.
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