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Is the World's Drink Window Up?

Unfiltered's guide to what to eat, what to drink, and where to stay if the Mayan calendar apocalypse comes to pass. Plus, the Brunello vandal is behind bars

Posted: December 20, 2012

Tomorrow is Dec. 21, 2012, the last date of the Mayan Long Count calendar and the end of the world as we know it (or so some would have you believe—as devoted as Unfiltered is to you, dear reader, it's unlikely we'd be spending our last moments on Earth writing this if we believed that to be true … then again, Bordeaux's Château d'Yquem has decided not to even bother making a 2012 Sauternes). While there are those around the globe who are legitimately prepping for end times, there are probably even more who are looking to make a few bucks off the impending apocalypse, and what better ways to do that than with wine, food or renting out a cot in your wine cave to ride out the Rapture. We have a wine-pairing menu for whatever vermin might be at hand whilst society crumbles—rats, crickets, spiders, etc.—and if you find yourself barricaded inside your wine cellar tomorrow as the world burns, please feel free to disregard all Wine Spectator recommended drink windows. After all, if beer can survive the nuclear holocaust, surely your wine will be just fine.

• A small village in the French Pyrenees has been overrun by endtimers and endtimer gawkers this month. Bugarach, population 176, has been called the Doomsday Destination and the Village at the End of the World thanks to some cultists' belief that it is the only place on earth where it will be possible to survive the coming apocalypse. Why? It sits below the Pic de Bugarach, a supposedly magical mountain inhabited by aliens. When the end comes, the top of the mountain will open up, and the UFOs will spirit away believers in Bugarach to safety in their spaceships. Sound ludicrous? The French government has actually warned residents to be wary of cults flocking to the village who may attempt mass suicides. A documentary titled The World Stops at Bugarach is airing on French television today. And of course, that all has brought thirsty rubberneckers to the hamlet, and the people of Bugarach are wisely catering to their new visitors. True believers are quenching their thirst for knowledge with Cuvée Bugarach, a Vins de Pays des Côtes Catalones 2010 Grenache from wine trader Jean Pla. The label reads "S'il n'en reste qu'un, je serais celui-là"—"If there is only one, I shall be that one"—and it purports to facilitate with the communication of extra-terrestrials, one of whom is depicted toasting with an Earthling on the back of the bottle. While the alien resembles an octopus, Pla recommends pairing the wine with barbecue. The real question is, barbecued what …?

• Bugarach isn't the only village being overrun by superstitious folks preparing for the end of the world. The town of Sirince, Turkey, (pop. 600) is not far from the location of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus and is believed to be where the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven. One of Sirince's most important agricultural products is fruit wine made from apples and berries, and local businessman Erkan Önoglu has created a Wine of the Apocalypse, or Vino dell'Apocalisse, now on sale in western Turkey's Izmir province. We hope he made enough—Sirince is expected to have more than 50,000 visitors this week.

• While Cuvée Bugarach and Vino dell'Apocalisse are all the end times rage today, they're late to the doomsday wine game if you consider Russian package design firm StudioIn's December 2011 corporate gift wine, intended to celebrate the last New Year's Eve ever at the end of 2011. The Happy Last New Year Spanish Tempranillo was made by Vinos y Bodegas Amelasio, and the label features "the 14 most 'popular' scary scenarios [for the end of the world] satisfying any taste, from rather predictable natural disasters to those absolutely fantastic," StudioIn's statement read. Among those scenarios: UFO attack, rat invasion, viruses (both deadly and computer), sun outburst and, Unfiltered's favorite, Large Hadron Collider explosion.

• If you'd rather bunker down than greet our new alien overlords in Bugarach, head to the Ukrainian wine region of Crimea, where New World winery has set up 400 beds and five suites in its underground wine caves and stockpiled enough food to feed 400 people for two weeks. Electric heaters have been brought in, as cellar temp can be a little chilly. Winery director Irina Pavlenko told International Business Times that the New World caves have been used as a hideout many times since they were built in the late 19th century, and that, of course, there will be more than enough of the winery's sparkling wine available to their guests.

• While any old wine cellar would seem like a good place to ride out the end of the world, the question will at some point arise: What are you going to eat down there? The only proteins we can recall coming across in wine caves and cellars came in the form of the occasional rat, bat, cricket, spider or cat. Fortunately, i09.com, the blog for all things science fiction, has sourced the Internets for wine pairing suggestions for all of the above and more (except bats and cats, but we trust you can improvise if it comes to that). Let's start with rats: They're a regular part of the diet in some parts of the world, but did you realize there's a recipe for Rats Entrecôte a la Bordelaise in Larousse Gastronomique? Simply brush a skinned, disemboweled rat with olive oil and shallots and grill over a wine barrel stave fire. Obviously you'll want to pair that with a Bordeaux. Crickets, with their nutty flavor, lend themselves more toward Pinot Noir, while a Cabernet is recommended for tarantulas. We've got our own recommendations for wine-and-bug pairings, however, and we speak from experience. For other wine recommendations for squirrel, possum, MREs, other humans and more, check out the full list of post-apocalyptic wine pairings.

• The Mayans foretold many things, and many have come to pass. Youths would speak solely in code on magic hand-scrolls. A great and terrible city of blasphemers, orgiasts, self-worshipers and coca-takers would rule the world. A civilization of sad people would be forced to eat from a truck (there would be trucks). So it seems appropriate that to celebrate the Mayans' final prediction, the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012, via volcanoes or meteors or aliens or nukes or whatever—they didn't really care, so long as it would finally all be over—food trucks are descending on Hialeah, Fla., for tomorrow's Food Truckalypse. Among the pithy victuals to be served as the wrathful Gods of Xibalba rain fire upon terrified people are the Hell Frozen Over ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery, Fritalyptic with a side of Kiss Your Ass Goodbye Fries from El Rey de Las Fritas, Earthquake Wings from the Flour Power Food Truck and something called the Atomic Meat Missile from Big Mike's BBQ. For a slightly more upscale end-of-days experience, try Plume at the Jefferson in what will be the burned-out hellscape of Washington, D.C., regardless of whether an apocalypse happens. The End of the Mayan Calendar Tasting Menu, offered Friday and Saturday (well, maybe), includes such delectables as Caviar Tacos, Seared Medallion of Foie Gras, Lobster Thermidor Gratin and Spicy Mayan Chocolate Lava Cake.

• To see six years of your life's proudest work go down the drain is unimaginable to most of us—and actually probably would feel like the end of the world—but that's what befell Gianfranco Soldera earlier this month when a vandal sneaked into his Case Basse cellars and methodically emptied out the entirety of his aging Brunello di Montalcino. Six vintages of some of Italy's most prized wine, down the drain. Now, news comes that the culprit was no mafioso or cabal of winemakers plotting revenge over Soldera's possible role in the 2008 Brunellogate blending scandal, but the most mundane of criminals: a disgruntled ex-employee. Andrea Di Grisi confessed the crime according to TheDailyBeast.com, damage to the tune of 7,000 cases and $6 million, to local carabinieri. Di Grisi never got along with his boss in the five years he worked at Case Basse estate, taking a drubbing recently for failing to maintain equipment properly, but after Soldera gave coveted lodgings on the property to another employee over Di Grisi, there was finally a blowup between the men; Soldera fired Di Grisi and bade him take care not to let the door hit him on the way out. For detectives, nabbing the perp wasn't too hard. Di Grisi had been arrested for destroying employers' property three times in the past. Witnesses told police he had bragged about revenge. And lab work finally showed that it was Di Grisi who had wine on his hands, or rather, his pants—a pair of washed jeans showed traces of polyphenols. Soldera ages his Brunello six years, so a new release will not be out until 2019. If there is a 2019 …

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