Now in its seventh year in the U.S., the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup university wine competition has launched alums into wine careers, kindled romance and even marriage among contestants, and saddled dozens of unsuspecting young wine lovers with a pricey taste for high-end claret. The 2017 competition returned Feb. 21, with 11 teams of three—from business and law schools at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, UCLA and some other fairly well-regarded universities, plus the odd med or hospitality school—squaring off to answer some extremely specific wine questions and then blind-taste their way up and down the Gironde and Garonne.
Following some opening remarks in the generously-tapestried, well-chandeliered salon of Manhattan's French Consulate, it was off to the quiz round, MC'ed by Emmanuel Cruse, grand maître of the group that runs the LBBC, the (deep breath) Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac. Do you know: Among these three top Sauternes estates, which is in the village of Bommes: Château Rieussec, Guiraud or Lafaurie-Peyraguey? Which type of wood is traditionally used for the hoops binding the staves of Bordeaux barrels: hazelnut, walnut or chestnut? Where is Bommes on a map, anyway? (Answer key: L-P, chestnut, kinda south of Barsac). Then on to a tasting of three flights: What's the appellation? What's the vintage? Which exact château in Pessac-Léognan made this wine? (The room applauded the one team that nailed it.)
Unfiltered caught up with the teams as the judges deliberated, and they'd been doing their (extra) homework in the months leading up to the big test. "A lot of tasting. We made a lot of flashcards," said Cornell's Stefan Vinti, who will graduate to work for New York distributor Empire Merchants. First-timer Anthony Fredericks, from Keck School of Medicine at USC, said that when word got out to doctors at the school, "All of the sudden we’re tasting bottles from the '80s and all this stuff we didn't have access to before. Because these doctors are like, ‘Med students? Oh, we want to support them.’" For some, wine was already a hardcore hobby before the LBBC: UCLA's Anita Raheja had visited Bordeaux over the summer to taste: "I appreciate now how much work goes into winemaking—and now appreciate why it costs so much!" Dartmouth Tuck MBA student Leo De Cara had been buying wine futures for years, for fun, while teammates Remy Olson and Laura Goytizolo Silva first came to wine through Oregon Pinot and Argentine Malbec before their Bordeaux educations. At dinner over bottles of Bouscaut blanc, Leoville-Poyferré and Suduiraut, Cruse announced that while competition at the top was incredibly close, Tuck came away with a first-time victory. Along with runner-up Columbia Business, they'll carry the red, white and blue at the world finals, to be held in the cavernous cellars of Left Bank lion Lafite Rothschild.
Worlds are colliding for those of us leading double lives as wine lovers and cat fanciers. Two competing start-up brands, Apollo Peak and Pet Winery, have recently made the fantasy of drinking with your cat a reality with “cat wine.” The alcohol-free product is basically liquid catnip—a water-based product with catnip and flavorings like salmon and beets, packaged in miniature "wine" bottles. This isn't the first time we've seen catnip-spiked "wine" for cats: A Japanese company unveiled Nyan Nyan Nouveau, a Cabernet grape juice and catnip blend, in 2015. Denver-based Apollo Peak recently collaborated with rap artist iAmMoshow (a.k.a “The Cat Rapper”) to produce a cat- and wine-inspired video that showcases the ultimate cat “happy hour” in all its catnip glory. Pet Winery, of Fort Myers, Fla., is also getting in on the cat wine game. Cat owners can indulge their feline companions with a range of $5 shot offerings such as Apollo Peak’s “Catbernet” and “Pinot Meow,” and Pet Winery’s “Purrgandy.” However, if your cat is feeling particularly thirsty, owners can splurge for the $15 bottle of “Mëow & Chandon,” the feline version of a magnum. And nothing about any of this is sad.
The National Basketball Association, along with the WNBA, the NBA D-League and USA Basketball, has a new official marketing partner in Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. Fans attending this past weekend's NBA All-Star Game festivities in New Orleans were treated to a kick-off event celebrating the new multiyear partnership at a pop-up club called Jack Daniel's House No. 7, where special guests like hip-hop stars Fat Joe and Master P, actor Nick Cannon and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban walked the "black carpet." "We are proud to partner with Jack Daniel's, an iconic brand with a rich history and a reputation for unique and innovative marketing," said NBA executive VP of global partnerships Emilio Collins in a statement.
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