Log In / Join Now

Stephen Colbert, Fred Armisen Review Foghat Wines on 'The Late Show'

Plus, a brief history of wine in space, and a French cooperative fined for illegal rosé production
Photo by: CBS
Fred Armisen (left) and Stephen Colbert were serenaded while critiquing Foghat wines.

Posted: February 18, 2016

Unfiltered is no stranger to Foghat Cellars, and now neither is the audience of The Late Show on CBS. Back in December, Late Show host Stephen Colbert recommended a range of Foghat-themed holiday gifts to his audience. Grateful for the nod, Foghat drummer-vintner Roger Earl shipped a slew of Foghat merch to Colbert and staff, including his range of wines from Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County. This past week, Colbert reviewed them for a live studio audience.

Colbert enlisted the help of actor-musician Fred Armisen and The Late Show's own singing sommelier, Jason Baker. They first tasted (and Armisen listened to) the Foghat Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2012: "It's got a velvety texture, good nose, and I detect notes of spiced vanilla," Colbert said, while Armisen found it "like a Dave Peverett guitar solo—complex but well-balanced. I'd pair it with a foot-long chili dog at the Milwaukee Classic Rock SummerStage." The Foghat Cellars Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley 2010 is "the perfect wine to slug directly from the bottle after screaming 'Thank you, Cleveland!'" Colbert assessed. What else would we expect from the band that brought us the "Chateau Lafitte '59 Boogie"? (Full Unfiltered disclosure: The Late Show's Baker is the cousin of Wine Spectator's Robert Taylor; the real-life Emmy-winning video editor and wine lover told us that singing sommelier was "a role I was born to play.")

A Brief History of Wine in Space

In space, no one can hear you slurp. That's what astronaut Buzz Aldrin was counting on when the Apollo 11 lunar lander touched down. There, in the lunar module, on the Sea of Tranquility, Aldrin called for a moment of silence from Houston. "I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way," said Aldrin, as he would recall in an article he wrote for Guideposts magazine in 1970 that was more recently unearthed and republished.

For Aldrin, that meant unpacking a small chalice, bread and wine and taking Communion. "In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup," Aldrin wrote. He then read John 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me." Which of course makes the first book verse read on the moon vine-related as well. NASA was not apprised of Aldrin's party plans beforehand, but really, what were they going to do, reset the whole soundstage and film it all over again?

Wine nearly returned to space with the Skylab astronauts in 1972—Paul Masson California Rare Cream Sherry, to be specific—but the public got wind, and the buzzkills descended. Wrote Skylab brass in a memo, "We can expect continued criticism and ridicule throughout the Skylab Program if such a beverage is provided." Maybe they were on to something. The Cosmonauts have blitzed through space like some kind of booze-soaked comet, but they never did stumble on the moon.

Red + White = Pink? Not Necessarily So

Vinovalie, a group of four wine cooperatives in France, has been found guilty of making rosé by blending in white wine varieties. The blend was produced in 2011 and sold in bulk in 2012 as a table wine. This bulk wine was produced for a specific client, a négociant who used it for a grapefruit flavored, wine-based drink. The problem for Vinovalie was that the rosé left the Vinovalie cellars in bulk marked as “table wine” when, according to regulations that came into place late that year, it should have been marked “destined for the elaboration of a BAV,” said Jacques Tranier, founder and director of Vinovalie. In France, the BAV, or boisson aromatisée à base de vin, aka flavored wine-based drink, is not considered wine and does not fall under wine-related regulations. “A BAV is a drink; it’s not a wine. It’s a recipe,” Tranier told Unfiltered.

Rosé is a surprisingly touchy subject in France. In 2009, the E.U. attempted to pass legislation that would have made it legal to mix a vat of red wine with a vat of wine wine and call it rosé. There was an uproar, particularly in France, where rosé made from red varieties has proven a stunning success. “It’s always been illegal to mix a vat of red wine with a vat of white wine. However, you could mix a vat of rosé with a vat of white varietal. That was legal until the end of 2012,” explained Tranier. It was so unequivocally legal that state-sponsored adult ed programs trained winery employees on how to blend rosé with white wine varietals. “Our employees even attended an official training program on how to do this in 2011,” said Tranier.

Vinovalie, which produces 18 million bottles a year, was fined €10,000 and three managers were also fined. They are appealing the fines.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.