Nowadays, two sure things arrive in autumn on Austria's wine scene: pristine Grüner Veltliner grapes for the current vintage, and the unveiling of the Jungwinzerinnen Kalender, or Young Female Winemakers Calendar, for the following one. The lingerie calendar features 12 months of winemaker daughters, sisters, nieces, wives, winery employees and winemakers themselves—not professional models—striking cheeky poses in the vineyards and cellars with decanters, bottles and other vinous paraphernalia.
The 2017 edition cements the calendar, like so much of wine, as a multi-generation tradition: Lena Krug of Weingut Krug (which has appeared in this space before) is Frau September—and daughter of Sabrine Krug, who posed for the 2005 calendar and manages the restaurant at the winery.
The calendar is the brainchild of Ellen Ledermüller-Reiner, who wanted to promote and raise awareness of her country's wines in a lighthearted way. The calendar itself, certainly, has garnered a global following: "Some days ago I sent the first calendar to Hawaii [ever]," Ledermüller-Reiner reported to Unfiltered. Every year there is a gala to celebrate the calendar launch—this year's guest of honor was Austria's most celebrated Elvis impersonator—and a good time is had by all. "I think it is a good mixture of being self-conscious and the fun of being a model," said Ledermüller-Reiner. But now it's back to the hard work of harvest for calendar girls like Frau Dezember Diana Müller, who at 20 has completed viticulture school and manages 25 acres of her family's Weingut Müller estate. The calendars are $30 and can be ordered, along with cover-girl T-shirts, from Ledermüller-Reiner's Kreativ Consulting.
Sour Grapes is the name of a new Netflix documentary about the wealth-fueled world of convicted wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan. It might as well be called Scam Grapes. And very expensive grapes they were—sold in the bottle by Kurniawan for as much as $40,000 per pop. That's what tech billionaire David Doyle paid for each of six bottles of ersatz 1945 Romanée-Conti. Kurniawan, now serving 10 years in a federal lockup, was unavailable to be interviewed for the film. But the film's coproducers, Londoner Jerry Rothwell and Brooklynite Reuben Atlas, dug up some amazing archival footage, including eight hours of Rudy video shot in 2002 for a stillborn TV series about cult California winemakers and drinkers. The duo acquired that particular footage from counterfeit-wine "sheriff" Bill Koch, who had purchased it from filmmaker Vince Cariati. Just 26 at the time, Kurniawan is revealed already to be a bicoastal maven of trophy wine in collecting circles. And he's already hinting at what he's up to. At a Los Angeles wine auction, he turns to the older man seated next to him just as a lot is sold for a huge price. "Dude, I just opened that bottle Thursday. Now I feel bad," Rudy says. "Do you think I could refill the bottle and put the cork back in?" The dude in question probably thought that Rudy was joking.
Rothwell and Atlas were strangers when they met at Kurniawan's 2013 trial. Each was following the tale from a different angle. Rothwell was tracking Laurent Ponsot, the Burgundian winemaker who first tripped up the fraudster. Atlas focused on the "fun, bombastic," big-ticket drinkers who gathered around the Hermès-outfitted Indonesian who claimed a $1 million-per-month allowance that was never enough. "We tried to draw a contrast between that physical thing of Ponsot rooted in the soil and the layers of wealth and value that are put on top of that," Rothwell told Unfiltered. Though their fast-paced film is peopled with wine fanatics, the producers are not among them: Atlas says that his family's only wine buff is his father-in-law, who collects Barolo. Rothwell drinks wine, but said, "I never pay more than 10 pounds ($13) per bottle." You can watch the trailer for the film's release in the U.K. below; Sour Grapes premieres on Netflix Nov. 13.
Another year, another Emmys night—but when it came to wine, the 68th annual Emmy Awards celebrations brought some new twists.
On Sept. 18, the awards ceremony and the Governors Ball after-party featured two official winery sponsors. Sterling Vineyards played the Lead Winery in the Still Category for the first time, pouring a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, plus others at the after-party, while Ferrari returned in its role as Outstanding Bubbly. More than ten thousand glasses of the sparkling wine’s flagship Brut NV were served to thirsty TV stars like Aziz Ansari, Claire Danes, Jeffrey Tambor, John Travolta and others.
Things really got going at a three-course dinner at the Governors Ball, orchestrated by chef Joachim Splichal of the Grand Award–winning restaurant Patina. The “Nature’s Elegance”–themed dinner paired with Sterling’s 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Chardonnay.
On the red carpet, some of Unfiltered’s favorite stars were there to strut their stuff in style. Tituss Burgess, the man who made Peeno Noir a thing, admitted (or boasted?), “I can finish an entire bottle of wine by myself.” Meanwhile, Anthony Bourdain walked away with the Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series Or Special for his CNN show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown—for the fourth year in a row (the eighth season debuted this past Sunday). He celebrated, and Unfiltered toasts him, with a glass of bubbly.
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