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Baseball's Giants and Reds Break Out the Bubbly

Plus, Champagne's beloved Jean Taittinger dies at 89, Owen Roe unveils plans to make its Washington wines in Washington, and apocalypse-approved beer

Posted: September 27, 2012

• Thanks to Major League Baseball's expanded playoff system this year, with multiple wild cards, a 1-game play-in series, and Division and League Championship Series leading up to the World Series, Unfiltered estimates there will be a minimum of 19 bubbly-soaked locker room celebrations this season. Nos. 1 and 2 came this past Saturday night, first when the Cincinatti Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to clinch the N.L. Central division, and then (thanks to the Dodgers' loss) Napa Valley's favorite team, the San Francisco Giants, took down the San Diego Padres to clinch the N.L. West. So what did they pop? The Reds had plenty of Korbel on hand, spraying wildly, many of them wisely wearing protective goggles. Despite Ohio's well-established wine industry, however, the players seemed to be partial to 24-ounce Reds-branded cans of Budweiser, which they used to repeatedly fill the multi-gallon N.L. Central champions trophy and pour all over anyone within range. A few hours later in San Francisco, the Giants celebrated with Mumm Napa Brut Napa Valley Prestige. "Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on a hard-fought victory in the National League West!" said Mumm Napa brand director Julie Galbraith. "We were proud to see them celebrate with Mumm Napa sparkling wine, and we are delighted to continue to support the Giants." On Tuesday night, the Atlanta Braves clinched a wild card spot and celebrated with Chateau Ste. Michelle Brut Columbia Valley (and more Budweiser). Check back in with Unfiltered in the coming weeks, as we'll try to keep a running tally of who popped what at each of the next 16 or so post-game parties.

• Unfiltered was saddened to learn of the recent passing of one of Champagne's prominent figures. Jean Taittinger died Sept. 23 at age 89. Taittinger was honorary chairman of his family's Champagne house and a popular longtime politician. Born Jan. 25, 1923, Jean Marie Pierre Hubert Taittinger was one of eight children of Pierre-Charles Taittinger. When Jean was eight, Pierre-Charles, already a Champagne distributor, bought Forest-Forneaux, a Champagne producer dating back to 1734, renaming it Taittinger. After fighting the Nazis with Free French forces during World War II, Jean worked with his brothers François and Claude at Champagne Taittinger. He then turned to politics, serving as deputy mayor of Reims from 1959 to 1977, and in the cabinet of French president Georges Pompidou. Returning to business, he became president of Société du Louvre, the Taittinger's hotel and luxury goods business. When the various family heirs voted to sell the family's businesses in 2005, he threw his support and prestigious name behind his son Pierre-Emmanuel's successful attempt to buy back the Champagne house.

• The highly regarded Washington wines of Owen Roe have always been made at its Oregon winery, but that will soon change. Owen Roe has received county permission to build a new winery near its vineyard sources in Washington's Yakima Valley, with plans to start making its Washington-sourced wines at the new facility starting with the 2013 harvest. That could provide a jolt of star power drawing more attention and wine tourism to the relatively under-recognized Yakima Valley. Owen Roe proprietor and winemaker David O’Reilly told Unfiltered he’s eager to produce his wines where he harvests his grapes. “Making terrific Yakima Valley wines in Oregon doesn’t necessarily help you with your identity,” said O’Reilly, who already has a second home near the winery site and often hosts customers at his 21-acre estate vineyard there. “I’m anxious to fully establish the branding part of our identity and be close to the grapes.” O’Reilly said Owen Roe, based in St. Paul, Ore., and currently making 25,000 cases a year, will make its Yakima wines at the new facility, on which he’ll soon seek construction bids. Those wines are sourced from Owen Roe’s estate vineyard and the DuBrul and Red Willow vineyards. He’ll continue to make Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in Oregon. In addition to the new production facility, O’Reilly wants to build a hospitality center in the hills above the vineyard. Other Yakima Valley winemakers are pleased Owen Roe, with its national following, is coming. “Owen Roe will be a major player in the wine corridor between Yakima and Walla Walla,” said Ron Bunnell, owner and winemaker at Bunnell Family Cellar in Prosser. The only catch is O’Reilly’s family obligations: The winemaker and his wife, Angelica, have eight children, six of whom still live at home. "We have to juggle school and activities and harvest in two states," he said. “So the household logistics can be even more difficult than harvesting the various varieties.” Unfiltered recommends O'Reilly give Cheaper by the Dozen a read when it undoubtedly ends up on one of his children's reading lists.

• There's good news this week for wine-loving end-timers: Newly discovered papers from 1955's Operation Teapot, a series of nuclear bomb tests in Nevada, confirm that it may indeed be possible to enjoy a post-apocalyptic bottle of wine. One experiment during the Teapot tests was designed to determine whether cans and bottles of beer and soda could outlast the blast. Scientists placed the beverages ("It is obvious that they could serve as important sources of fluids," they noted in their report) at intervals from the blast site, between a mere quarter-mile and 2 miles. They detonated the bomb. Then, one imagines, they played rock-paper-death to see who got to taste the radioactive beer. "Immediate taste tests indicated that the beverages, both beer and soft drinks, were still of commercial quality, although there was evidence of a slight flavor change" in the beers closest to the blast zone (but none at all in the 2-milers). Further lab drinking concluded that beer flavors "indicated a range from 'commercial quality' on through 'aged' and 'definitely off.' All agreed, however, that the beer could unquestionably be used as an emergency source of potable beverages." So, essentially, the beer tasted like beer: Everyone knows there's a certain amount of "can variation" to mass-produced beer, nuclear holocaust or not. Most important, the beer showed safe-to-consume levels of radioactivity. We can only presume that a bottle of wine would have the same staying power, so add watching the world burn with a bottle of Cabernet to smoking a cigar on the moon and noodling for sharks on Unfiltered's Ultimate Extreme Bucket List.

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