Unfiltered loves a party, especially when we get to spy on our favorite celebrities and find out that, "Hey, they drink Cognac … just like us!" And so it was that Unfiltered snuck past the velvet rope at Courvoisier's "Exceptional Journey" party last week at Industria Superstudio in New York's confusingly chic Meatpacking District for a glimpse at life in high fashion. Unfiltered, who wore not-black and whose visible skin was not-inked, apparently missed a memo, but the beautiful people didn't seem to mind, as everyone was there to celebrate the unveiling of two Courvoisier-sponsored artist collaborations (and drink cocktails created by the Cognac brand's national mixologist ambassador, Zahra Bates).
Exceptional Journey brought together American cubist painter Jack Laroux and French waterproof outerwear icon K-Way to create a Courvoisier-branded limited-edition jacket featuring a print based on Laroux's painting Poseidon, and fashion house En Noir collaborated with creative studio Bonsoir Paris to create a series of black-and-white photos that were on display. Actresses Rosario Dawson and Dascha Polanco spent the night testing out new dance moves in the K-Way jacket while Unfiltered chatted up Laroux, who told us he's always wanted to design a wine label, and Bates, who hinted that Courvoisier itself might be getting a redesign for 2016. (Somebody should maybe introduce those two?) Unfiltered looks forward to Courvoisier's new look; we'll leave the haute couture windbreakers to the stars until then.
On Nov. 11, Loïc Pasquet, a 39-year-old vintner in Bordeaux's Graves, gazed at his 6-acre plot of vines in horror. A vandal had come in the night and cut 500 vines off at the root. The vines were Castets, a grape variety once common in Bordeaux, but now nearly forgotten. “These vines were a historical treasure for all of Bordeaux,” Pasquet told Unfiltered.
Regulations governing Graves AOC wines means he must label the wines as Vin de France, but he works with the Graves syndicate as a pilot program for reintroducing old varieties. His Liber Pater wines have sold for more than $3,000 a bottle. Pasquet acquired the vines from a national conservatory near Montpellier five years ago, and planted them directly in the deep gravel and sandy soil, exactly as vintners used to do. “We haven’t had any problem with phylloxera,” he said.
The vines not only represented considerable investment, but were emblematic of the adventure he’d embarked on when he became a vintner in 2004: to recreate the taste of pre-phylloxera Bordeaux. He eschews tractors for mules and horses. The vineyards are organic and planted more than double the allowed density. And he uses the varieties planted at the time of the 1855 Classification. “When the 1855 Classification took place, there wasn't any Merlot in the classified growths,” said Pasquet. “A wine region should retain the unique taste of its wine; it’s part of our civilization. I’m against globalization and uniformity in taste.” So far, the gendarmes of Cadillac have no suspects. “It could be anyone," Pasquet said. "Jealousy. Someone who’s against what I’m doing with old vines. Or just a crazy person.”
The annual Hospices de Beaune charity wine auction, held by Christie's in the heart of Burgundy, topped its previous all-time high this past Sunday, Nov. 15, raising $11.7 million. The top lot was a 288-liter barrel of the 2015 Corton Renardes grand cru, which sold for $510,860, a third of which will support victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The proceeds of this top lot, known as the “Pièce des Présidents,” were split this year, with the remaining money going to fund cancer and stroke research. In a somber but defiant mood, the bidding was preceded by a moment of silence and collective singing of "La Marseillaise."
The Hospices de Beaune, which was created in the 15th century with the blessing of the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, hosts the annual wine auction the third week of every November. This year, bidders, which include both private collectors and négociants, chose from 46 grands crus and premiers crus represented by 458 reds and 117 whites.