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A Champagne Bottle Model Gets Her Own Cuvée

Plus, the Divergent author becomes a wine-bar partner, controversy strikes the Napa Wine Train, charges dismissed against an alleged wine vandal, and much more
Photo by: LE REPUBLICAIN LORRAIN/Newscom
Former Victoria's Secret model Adriana Karembeu now has a Champagne all her own.

Posted: August 27, 2015

Lanson International is adding some more sparkle to its Champagne portfolio. Fashion model Adriana Karembeu, the brand ambassador of the Lanson-owned Chanoine Frères Champagne Tsarine, is launching her own cuvée, Tsarine by Adriana, a bubbly boasting “exceptional freshness and lively lemon aromas.” Made in collaboration with Chanoine cellar master Isabelle Tellier, Karembeau’s Pinot Noir-based Champagne comes in a spiraling gold bottle inspired by the architecture of Russia's onion domes.

Tsarine by Adriana will be available exclusively at British-owned Crazy Bear Group restaurants and hotels beginning Sunday until December, when the $450 bottles will be available at retail. The former Victoria’s Secret model will kick off the launch at the Oxfordshire Stadhampton Garden Party benefitting Macmillan Cancer Support.


Celebrity Author Supports Wine Career Divergence

Veronica Roth, author of the hit dystopian YA book series and Hollywood trilogy-to-be Divergent is supporting her husband, Nelson Fitch, in a new type of adventure: bringing Income Tax to Edgewater, Ill.

And by Income Tax, we mean a new wine bar that may be the harbinger of a lifted liquor moratorium in the northern tip of Chicago. Fitch, 26, has significant backing behind him: After Chicago City Council Alderman Harry Osterman announced his support to lift the moratorium, letters of endorsement flooded in from the local community. Next month, on Sept. 10, the city council will decide to either approve or deny the changes needed for Fitch to launch his dream bar.

If Fitch succeeds, Income Tax will offer wine by the glass, obscure cocktails and a “pretty epic brandy list.” The wine bar’s name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Prohibition-era faux storefronts in the current-day dry community, and would be styled in an "Old World, French-Italian" setting. Fitch learned about wine working at the local Independent Spirits Inc. as a side job, and “became obsessed” soon after.

“I’m perpetually Nebbiolo crazy, and Roagna’s Pajè Barbaresco is a personal favorite,” Fitch told Unfiltered. Recently, the bestselling author–wine entrepreneur dynamic duo has enjoyed Loire Chenin Blancfrom Domaine Guiberteau and dry Sherries from Bodegas Emilio Hidalgo. Will the new wine bar, with it's Old World affectations, cater to an old-school era of wine snobbery? Fear not, Fitch says: “So far, everything on the [wine] list goes well with plain, toasted Goldfish crackers.”


Napa Wine Train Derailed by Controversy

The Napa Valley Wine Train, a railroad wine tour that has been ferrying tourists up and down the valley for more than 25 years, landed in a PR nightmare this week after a group of passengers were removed from one of its tours. This past Saturday, Aug. 22, Wine Train employees repeatedly asked a group of passengers to quiet down, and eventually ejected them from the tour in St. Helena, where local police were waiting. The "unruly" passengers, all of them women, most of them African American, and one of them an 83-year-old grandmother, were having a book club get-together.

While Napa Valley Wine Train officials say that passengers are removed from the train about once a month, the women of the book club removed on Saturday felt that they had been singled out for their race. The incident quickly gained national attention after Facebook posts by the women went viral; the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack is still trending on Twitter.

On Tuesday, the women were issued an apology by Napa Valley Wine Train CEO Tony Giaccio. "The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue,” he said, and offered the book club a complimentary tour on the Wine Train for up to 50 guests, in their own private car. "We pride ourselves on our hospitality and our desire to please our guests on the Napa Valley Wine Train," said Giaccio, who also promised that employees would now receive diversity training. "In this instance, we failed in every measure of the meaning of good service, respect and hospitality."

Charges Dismissed in Australian Wine Vandalism Case

An Australian court this month determined the not-culprit of a wine crime Unfiltered reported in February. At the time, a still-unknown perp opened the taps on 6,600 gallons—or $215,000 worth—of Chardonnay of the 2010 and 2011 vintages at Kellermeister Winery in the Barossa. Winemaker Mark Pearce told Unfiltered at the time that he was “lucky,” because, basically, it was only Chardonnay, after all. A case was brought, based on CCTV evidence, against Trevor “Boots” Jones, a former Kellermeister employee who departed acrimoniously in 2010 and started a rival winery.

However, a judge has dismissed the case against Jones, despite the cam evidence. According to the Australian, the footage showed “a person wearing a hat, long shorts and slip-on shoes,” which could be literally any man in Australia, “but gave no clear view of the person’s face.” The fingerprints on the taps did not match Jones’ and no mud or wine was found on his clothes. The lawyer for Jones deployed the ingenious “No, you have a motive!” defense, stating, “What’s asserted as a motive against Jones stands as a motive why Mr. Pearce might want to blame Jones as the person he says he can see in the CCTV footage.” Still, the case could continue—prosecutors could file again in the higher district court.

French Courts Side with Anti-Alcohol Lobbyists

France’s neo-prohibitionists have scored a victory against the country’s wine trade, media and tourism sectors. Last spring, the French senate passed an amendment to the Evin Law with the intention of protecting journalism and wine-tourism operators from the same restrictions faced by advertisers. The amendment drew a distinction between journalism and advertising, and specifically listed stories about culture, history, wine tourism and the environment. Lawmakers were able to do this by arguing that wine falls under the Macron Law that focuses on growth and the economy. But the anti-alcohol lobby successfully convinced the courts that anything to do with wine should fall under France’s health laws, not the economic laws, and the amendment has been thrown out.

France’s wine regions are “veritable economic lungs for our country,” Jöel Foreau, president of Vin & Société, told Unfiltered. The wine trade employs 500,000 people in France.

“Wine tourism is a major axis of development … and journalists should be able to inform about our products and our regions without fearing their work will be considered advertisement,” said Foreau. “We are back to square one,” said Christophe Chateau, spokesperson for the Bordeaux Wine Council.


Made in Monterey

Monterey County just became one big happy family. Going forward, all wines produced in the coastal AVA must have either “Monterey” or “Monterey County” printed on the label. Previously, a subappellation designation, such as Chalone or Santa Lucia Highlands, was sufficient. The new rules, authored by assemblymember Mark Stone in Assembly Bill 394 and signed into law last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, mandate that the larger AVA name must accompany smaller sub-AVAs on all labels. A grace period until Jan. 1, 2019, will allow vintners time to comply with the new regulations.

The move to conjunctive labeling, as it’s called, has a simple purpose: “Conjunctive labeling makes it easier for consumers to choose the Monterey wine experience,” explained Kim Stemler of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers' Association in a statement. Winemakers hope that the new practices will raise awareness and recognition for the region, as similar labeling laws have done for Napa, Lodi, Sonoma County and Paso Robles. They expect fans of wines from Arroyo Seco, for example, to be more inclined to try the wines of the San Antonio Valley if both are associated with Monterey. Additionally, increased awareness should drive more revenue to regional tourism, agriculture and other local industries.

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