We here at Unfiltered will be pretty excited to put 2008 behind us. Although it was a truly spectacular year in sports, the specters of Middle Eastern conflict and a crashing global economy have had us feeling pretty glum. In keeping with all the big news going on, we ran wine-related stories on superstar athletes and some of the world's most important leaders this year. And yet, Claudia Schiffer, Angelina Jolie and Giselle Bündchen were the subjects of the three most widely read items of 2008. Turns out we just wanted something pretty to distract us.
We tried to raise our collective brow this year by running stories on Barack Obama's selection for Secretary of Agriculture, the battered economy's toll on Napa's Copia center and even the illegal drug trade infiltrating wine country, but we knew all along, nothing fills the seats better than Brangelina. At least we're consistent: Johnny Depp cracked the Top 10 for the second year in a row. So no need to feel guilty—you can resolve to pay more attention to politics tomorrow—sit back and enjoy the 10 most popular celebrity "news" items of 2008.
|Unfiltered resolves to stop purchasing breast-shaped tableware in 2009.|
• Following Bollinger's homage to James Bond and his bullet, now comes Dom Pérignon's tribute to Claudia Schiffer's bosom. The breast-inspired bowl is the latest creation by German designer Karl Lagerfeld for Moët & Chandon's famous Champagne brand. This artwork is supposed to be a modern version of the bowl from the dining service made especially for Queen Marie Antoinette back in 1787. Legend has it that it was the exact size of one of her breasts, and used, in turn, to model the well-known coupe-shaped Champagne glass. Lagerfeld's offering rests upon a stand comprising three porcelain replicas of Dom Pérignon and a platter bearing the signatures of the designer and his favorite top model. The creation is sold along with a bottle of 1995 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque, but some still might find it a tad bit too expensive at $3,150 a pop, considering you don't get to take the real Schiffer home to share the bottle with you.
Posted Dec. 4, 2008
• When the family home is too small to accommodate a growing number of children, most expectant couples talk to their local real-estate agent. But most expectant couples are not actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who are expecting twins any day now. After Pitt pondered a place in Piedmont, the two instead turned their eyes to the south of France. "Mr. and Mrs. Pitt came for a visit," said Jean Barthélémy Chancel, the commercial director of Château Val Joanis in Côtes du Lubéron, adding, "But the estate is not for sale." Undeterred, the pair have now signed a lease at organic winery Château Miraval, in Provence, for the next three years. Said owner Tom Bove, "They like the beauty, security and tranquility that Miraval offers their children," adding, however, it will be "hands-off" in the winery itself, which "will continue as it has in the past." Pitt's publicist declined comment on why the couple chose France, but between the country's wines, cheeses, chocolates, cinema and fashion, it's not hard for Unfiltered to see why they'd want to stick around after the recent Cannes film festival.
Posted May 28, 2008
|Tom Brady lost his undefeated season at the Super Bowl and had knee surgery in 2008. We think he'll be just fine.|
• It wasn't the New York Giants' upset victory over the undefeated New England Patriots that caught our attention at Super Bowl XLII—it was a shot of Tom Brady's girlfriend, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, drinking red wine in her sky box. As reported by the Wall Street Journal last week, an image of Bündchen with a glass in her hand drew ire from fans and sports commentators, who recoiled at the fact that the quarterback's lady wouldn't deign to drink beer at the game. Some even insinuated that it was Bündchen and her wine that caused New England's loss. Unfiltered commends Bündchen for her choice of beverage, especially since marketing research suggests that Pats fans love to drink and read about wine. Furthermore, it seems she isn't the only one enjoying wine at sporting events. "We have significant wine lists at multiple arenas," said Bob Pascal, corporate vice president of marketing for Centerplate Inc., which caters the Super Bowl and other sports venues nationwide. Wine isn't just for the sky boxes and special seating areas, either. According to Pascal, the only thing holding arenas back from offering wine to general-seating customers is the lack of a good, non-glass container in which to serve it. Though Centerplate brass may not approve, we recommend the Wine Rack.
Posted Feb. 20, 2008
• He played a cynical beef merchant in the film Fast Food Nation, so it makes some kind sense that actor Bruce Willis's latest role also finds him in the restaurant industry. Willis, along with partners Chris Sileo and Lenny Linar, has just opened Bowery Wine Co., a Manhattan wine bar and restaurant. Sileo, who befriended Willis two decades ago while working as the general manager of the '80s hotspot China Club, acknowledges the irony of opening a celebrity-backed wine bar in a part of New York City better known for down-on-their-luck folks drinking paper-bagged bottles of Thunderbird and Night Train before falling asleep on the sidewalk. And that's just the NYU students. "There's a juxtaposition right now between the old and the new Bowery," said Sileo, who had old photos--of men standing on bread lines and moving furniture out of a condemned hotel--encased in Lucite and mounted on the bar's windows. In the spirit of the "new" Bowery, Unfiltered thinks it's only a matter of time before Ashton Kutcher, current husband of Willis' ex-wife Demi Moore, opens an even hipper, younger place across the street.
Posted March 26, 2008
• Country singer LeAnn Rimes is the latest celebrity to embrace her love of wine. But rather than purchasing a vineyard or investing in a winery, the star did what country singers do best—she put her favorite "happy hour" beverage into song. This week, Rimes released the music video for the second single off her 2007 album Family, entitled "Good Friend and a Glass of Wine". Monterey's Estancia winery joined forces with Rimes to become the official wine sponsor of her upcoming tour, and its their wines that are featured in the music video. The video, which looks something like a three-minute lovechild of a Sex and the City clip and a Noxzema commercial, features Rimes and several girlfriends unwinding after a long day of work—with glasses of wine, of course. In the song, Rimes proclaims that she finds a wine-filled happy hour and time with her girlfriends more relaxing than a vacation. Unfiltered would prefer the vacation, thanks ... and we'll take the wine, too. The friends can stay home.
Posted March 5, 2008
• Since 1945, the labels of Château Mouton-Rothschild have been illustrated by the work of a contemporary artist. Last year, the honor was bestowed upon Prince Charles, who dabbles in watercolor. For the highly anticipated 2005 vintage, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild has decided to entrust the label art to Italian sculptor Guiseppe Penone. According to the artist, his Mouton 2005 label is designed to represent the growth of the vine leaf and, at the same time, the splayed hand of the drinker, soon to grab a glass of Mouton. Or it could just be the combination of a police-booking handprint and an eight-grade botany project, but we like the sound of Penone's explanation a bit better. Each year, instead of a fee, the artists are given cases of Mouton for their work, including bottles from the vintage in which their art was used. The price of a single bottle of Mouton 2005 is currently running about $800, so Penone fared much better than Prince Charles—bottles from the 2004 vintage are selling for a mere $170 at auction. Then again, it's not as though Chuck actually needs the money.
Posted Jan. 16, 2008
|Another high point of 2008: Jaime Pressly took off her little black dress for charity.|
• We have to admit, when we first heard about a wine called Little Black Dress, our expectations were that the wine would probably taste like one—soaked in Welch's. But it turns out there's more to this little wine than we thought. The 100,000-case label, introduced in 2006 by wine-and-spirits giant Brown-Forman, has been making red-carpet appearances to benefit the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation, which auctions off celebrity dresses and accessories to benefit children's charities. Celebrity attendees of events such as last year's Emmy Awards were able to sign bottles of Little Black Dress or even donate their red-carpet-wear to be auctioned off on the organization's website, clothesoffourback.org. To date, Little Black Dress has helped to raise more than $65,000. Current auction items include a little black dress from My Name Is Earl star Jaime Pressly, as well as bottles signed by the casts of Heroes, ER and CSI: Miami, to name a few. Unfiltered recently tasted the Little Black Dress Chardonnay 2006 ($10) and found it light and refreshing. We give Pressly 90 points for her performance in Not Another Teen Movie and 92 for the TV show.
Posted March 12, 2008
• Wine collectors might have a reason to rethink their cellar organization system. Regions and vintages could take a backseat to racking bottles by month—January through December—because Playboy Enterprises is dipping its toes into the wine market. Following the success of their 2006 collaboration with Marilyn Wines, the company has recently announced its new wine of the month club, offering well-respected labels such as Miss February 1962 and Miss July 1964. Each bottle will have a different photo label featuring a Playboy cover from the 1960s and 70s, arguably the magazine's classiest decades. And oh, right, the wine! Playmates for this project include Schug, Janzen and St. Supéry, and apparently the wine in each bottle is meant to reflect the qualities of the specific cover model (though we find it hard to imagine writing a tasting note using the terms blond, blue-eyed and busty). Now, if they only offered a wine collection that used text from vintage issues of Playboy as labels, because everyone knows the real reason to subscribe to the magazine is for the articles.
Posted Oct. 8, 2008
|Here's hoping Johnny Depp doesn't bring us Pirates of Provence in 2009.|
• During long business trips, every traveler likes to have the comforts of home with them. For actor and American-expat-in-France Johnny Depp, that means French wine. Depp has made no secret of his love for wine, particularly Bordeaux. He's told reporters that Cheval-Blanc, Pétrus and Château Calon-Ségur are some of his favorites, and he and longtime partner Vanessa Paradis own a vineyard in the Côtes de Provence, where they make their own wine. The actor is currently in Illinois, filming Public Enemies, a '30s gangster flick in which Depp plays John Dillinger. Apparently he didn't find what he was looking for in the old bootlegging capital's liquor stores, so he shipped in his own booty and had 10 cases of wine sent to him from France. According to media sources, the cases included some Pétrus and his own wine from Plan de la Tour. No word on whether he shared anything in his care package with his costars Christian Bale, Billy Crudup or, most appropriately, Oscar-winning Frenchwoman Marion Cotillard.
Posted April 30, 2008
|Miranda Lambert wasn't singing the blues in 2008.|
• Listening to depressing country music has occasionally made Unfiltered want to drink kerosene, and one entrepreneurial young country music star is hoping the wine drinkers of Texas feel the same way. Grammy Award-nominated Miranda Lambert, an alum of Country Music Television's reality competition show Nashville Star, has started her own line of wines, one of which is a Blanc du Bois called Kerosene, which is also the title of her debut album. Lambert's other white wine, a Muscat, is named for her follow-up album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Unfiltered has been around both kerosene and crazy ex-girlfriends, and neither left a good taste in our mouth (and heaven forbid you get the two of them together), but who are we to question the business model? Lambert's other wines, made in partnership with LouViney Vineyards and Winery of Sulphur Springs, Texas, are a Merlot named County Road 233, a Cabernet-Merlot blend named Red 55, a "sweet" Cabernet called Belle, and a rosé named for the country star's favorite guitar, Electric Pink. They're all available from the singer's website, where you can also pick up your official Miranda Lambert t-shirts, baby onesies, hats, key chains and beer koozies. And the next time one of those weepy country ballads gets us down, we really will try drowning our sorrows in a glass of Kerosene.
Posted Nov. 12, 2008
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