• At a posh release party this week held at Stephan Weiss Studios in Tribeca, Dom Pérignon floated the alternative packaging movement to new heights: Their 2003 rosé Champagne will be offered in standard bottles, but also in standard bottles lodged in a "balloon Venus," a miniature of artist Jeff Koons' Balloon Venus sculpture, which is kind of a giant pink balloon animal, but metallic and pregnant. The exclusive party was held in a darkened room with foliage running up and down most surfaces ("It's real! It's real!" Unfiltered overheard one guest marvel at the plants) where temperatures were kept appropriately tropical. Nonetheless, Unfiltered mingled with (gawked at) an impressive crowd of celebrities on various tiers of the alphabet list in town for Fashion Week—in addition to Dom chef de cave Richard Geoffroy and Koons, baller Carmelo Anthony, rapper Eve, designer Donna Karan, art historian Diana Widmaier-Picasso, Martha Stewart, Ted Allen and a bunch of models were all present. Over glasses of the 2003 rosé and the 2004 blanc, Geoffroy explained to Unfiltered how the collaboration for the limited-edition $20,000 Koons bottle case came about. "It always starts with the wines," he said, calling the super-hot 2003 vintage "a year of extremes" that brought DP "a rosé as provocative as can be." Koons and his sensuous statuary seemed like a fit, and a few meetings established a "mutual understanding" of philosophies. Koons has been getting quite a bit of mileage in luxury wine recently: In December, Koons gave Pompeii fresco The Birth of Venus the cocktail napkin treatment for the 2010 Mouton-Rorthschild label, a comparative bargain at a mere $1,200 a bottle.
• On Aug. 30, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s ban on the production and sale of foie gras in a 3-0 ruling. The court ruled that the state’s ban was constitutional and that the foie gras lobby’s challenge failed to “raise serious questions about the law’s constitutionality.” While out-of-state foie gras farmers and local restaurants objected to the law on the grounds that it is vague and interferes with federally regulated commerce, Judge Harry Pregerson said that it does not because it leaves out-of-state producers free to sell their product in other states. Foie gras production has been banned in Argentina, Turkey, the U.K. and Italy. In 2004, Californians voted to ban the practice and producers were given until 2012 to phase out production. While foie gras is no longer produced in California, some restaurants, most notably chef Ken Frank's La Toque, have continued to serve what is considered a delicacy in defiance of the ban.
• Murphy-Goode Winery introduced Homefront Red this month, in support of Operation Homefront, which aids families of U.S. military forces and wounded soldiers. Murphy-Goode has already committed to making a minimum donation of $200,000, but is hoping to reach at least $300,000. Homefront Red retails for $15, and for every bottle sold, the winery will donate 50 cents to Operation Homefront. It is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel grapes sourced from vineyards in Sonoma's Dry Creek and Bennett Valleys. Winemaker David Ready Jr. describes it as “chock full of flavors of black cherry and raspberry, vanilla and toast, [with] a nice long finish that invites another glass.” Two other Murphy-Goode bottlings have been made in partnership with Operation Homefront: The 2006 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon Homefront and the 2006 North Coast Homefront Cuvée, both retailing at $55. California's Josh Cellars also announced a partnership with Operation Homefront today, and will donate $1 for every bottle of Josh Cellars wines sold this November and December, up to $50,000.
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