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Gia in a Bottle

Plus, wine crime from ancient Egypt to modern-day Baltimore, and sustainable vineyard charity Roots of Peace has a run-in with the Taliban

Posted: April 3, 2014

• While Unfiltered will always owe a debt of gratitude to Sofia Coppola for making it acceptable to drink wine from a can, next month marks the debut of a new generation of Coppola into the wine world. Gia Coppola, 27-year-old granddaughter of Francis and niece of Sofia, is releasing a line of three wines (that would be Gia by Gia Coppola) to appeal to her own and her friends' tastes. She tells Unfiltered she wanted to "create flavorful, unpretentious wines for those looking for a fun approach." There's a frizzante Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Grigio; the bottles are custom-made and beveled to resemble perfume bottles. Gia, who shares the Coppola knack for art and design, had a hand in crafting the bottle and label but also in selecting the blends. François Cordesse, on the winemaking team at Coppola after 10 years at Matanzas Creek and some time in Bordeaux, took the lead on the Gia wines. His mission: Make California wines at 11.5 percent ABV. "The younger generation does not want to have one glass and get a buzz. Gia did her homework and saw that these three varieties could do low Brix" in the right climates. Using cool-climate vineyards (some Mendocino and Lodi, among others), a strain of yeast that helps draw out glycerol (sweet, fruity flavor) and a cold fermentation, plus leaving a twinge of residual sugar, Cordesse managed to hit Gia's and his target for a "low-alcohol, calorie-conscious, younger demographic." The $14 bottle was a challenge for a man who made $100 wines for years, but after much trial and error, the blends came together. As for Gia, wine isn't the only family vocation she's embraced: She wrote and directed the recently released film Palo Alto, co-written with and starring James Franco and featuring Emma Roberts and Val Kilmer.


• Wine crime is as ancient as the vintages themselves, as a new translation of a papyrus from 4th century A.D. Roman Egypt reveals. The 3-by-5-inch scrap had been collecting dust in the University of Michigan archives for nearly a century before a University of Cincinnati grad student took a stab at translating it and publishing in the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists. It's a contract for a vineyard guard: "I agree that I have made a contract with you on the condition that I guard your property, a vineyard near the village Panoouei, from the present day until vintage and transport, so that there be no negligence, and on the condition that I receive in return for pay for all of the aforementioned time"—and that's all we've got. The paper noted another ancient vine guardian was beaten by "violent and rapacious" criminals when he tried to shoo them off the property, so we can surmise this was more than just rent-a-cop duty. Livescience.com notes that the job is even alluded to in the verse of Catullus, who cautioned that a married woman "must be watched more carefully than the darkest grapes," which seems to reveal Catullus' opinion of married women to be about as low as his appreciation of wine was high.

Meanwhile, in modern-day Baltimore, another heist was in the offing this past month, when thieves (or maybe just one very efficient thief) slipped into a shipping yard, fired up a freightliner and hooked it up to one of dozens of indiscriminate cargo trailers that just happened to be full of Hennessy Cognac: 2,142 cases valued at $514,000, to be precise. Nine days later, police found the trailer, but it now contained zero cases of Hennessy, worth $0. Since the truck went AWOL just before St. Patrick's Day, CBS Baltimore asked the police chief if holiday festivities were being considered as a motive: "Yes, it is. We’ll take everything into consideration as to a motive." But drinking Cognac on St. Patrick's Day would be like drinking Guinness on Cinco de Mayo—frankly disrespectful to the culture—and Unfiltered still believes in honor among thieves. Police are offering a $2,000 reward for info leading to an arrest, though we'd imagine anyone connected with the heist has already received much more than that in hush brandy.


• Unfiltered learned this week that the Taliban had attacked the Kabul, Afghanistan, guesthouse of Roots of Peace, a humanitarian organization that promotes plantings of sustainable grapevines over former landmine-strewn fields in war-torn areas. Evidently, the Taliban mistakenly knocked down the door of the Roots of Peace building when they thought they were attacking a Christian-run school next door. Kyleigh Kühn, whose family founded the organization, reported in a statement that four or five suicide bombers entered their building, and two bystanders were killed, but none of the Roots of Peace staff were injured. The news comes as a sad reminder of the need for Roots of Peace's work in Afghanistan, from which the California-based organization has extracted over 100,000 landmines since 2003. After removing landmines, Roots of Peace provides funding and training for local farmers to replant these spaces with vines and other sustainable crops. The result is 10 new fruit markets in Afghanistan, a 300 percent increase in participating-farmer income and more than 40 new vineyards, according to the foundation. Kühn is asking supporters to post a photo of a flower or a tree with the hashtag #rootsofpeace.

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