You may have heard that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off an unprecedented come-from-behind series victory to win the NBA Finals in game 7 on Sunday night. It may have been an upset, but the Cavs arrived prepared in Oakland, with a first-of-its-kind Champagne of their own in tow.
James, Kyrie Irving, a very shirt-averse J.R. Smith and company showered each other with Moët & Chandon Ohio City Nectar Imperial Rosé both in the locker room and again at a pit-stop at nightclub XS Las Vegas on their way home. The special-edition bottles feature an "OH" logo and a map of the state's landmarks. They were a sneak peak of the August release of an entire collection of geocentric Moët Nectar Imperial bottlings, priced at $70. Other destinations getting their own Champagne include California's Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Texas. Sorry Philadelphia, but we suspect you won't be needing championship Champagne anytime soon.
"Without question the most fun night of my life" is a memory that probably calls to mind wine for many Unfiltered readers. For you, was it the time you feasted in the vat room of Bordeaux's Château Lafite Rothschild with Baron Eric de Rothschild himself, guzzling 1975 Lafite from double-magnums in the company of 30-odd fellow young enophiles from around the world, drinking and dancing into the wee hours? No?
Well it was for Yale Law student Christina Krushen, who competed in last week's Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, an annual showdown in which eight teams of three from universities around the world vie to hoist a trophy of dominance in wine wisdom and tasting chops. Teams competed in preliminaries throughout the year in Europe, Asia and the U.S. to win the trip to France, with Wharton Business also representing the red, white and blue (er, the American one).
The whole shebang is organized by the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac, a group of Bordeaux vintners, négociants and enthusiasts; the wineries "were all tremendously generous with their time and wines," said Wharton's Michael Manuccia.
After living it up across the Left Bank for four days, last Friday culminated in crunch time in the Lafite cellars. First up, a quiz of ever-more-esoteric questions (mostly) about Bordeaux wine. What do all the classified-growth châteaus in the Sauternes commune of Bommes have in common? Which of three white Bordeauxs is 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc and not a blend? Who is the father of Dionysus, ancient Greek god of partying? (If you're playing along at home: hyphenated names, Couhins-Lurton and Zeus.) Then, three sets of three wines for blind tasting, with teams asked to identify appellation and vintage—the most challenging part, according to Krushen: "It goes very fast, and house styles can really differ within an appellation." (A close second for difficulty was the song each team had to perform at the afterparty, she told Unfiltered.)
The title went to the team from EM Lyon (even though France's other team, Sciences Po Paris , counted the son of former longtime Cos-d'Estournel general director Jean-Guillaume Prats as a member), but everyone felt like a million francs by the end of it: "The Bordelais certainly know how to throw a party!" said Krushen. Manuccia summed it up: "Our whole team are Bordeaux loyalists now, so if that was part of the intent of the competition, it worked."
Have you been watching the Euro Cup? We know soccer and wine is a great pairing, so more news of wine-loving soccer players is cheering us in these dark days of surprise upsets. (We're looking at you, England. And France. And Germany. And Italy. And Spain.) Fans in the U.K. can soon enjoy some cross-cultural sportsmanship with a glass of Corazó Loco—that’s one of Spain midfielder Andrés Iniesta’s personal wine labels, which will be available in England starting in November.
Iniesta started his winery, Bodegas Iniesta, in 2010, soon after scoring the extra-time corner kick that won Spain its first World Cup championship. The winery had been a long time coming: His family owned 25 acres of vineyards for two generations, but at age 16, Iniesta used the money from his first soccer contract to increase the family's holdings to 740 acres. Smart kid!
“Andrés does whatever it takes to promote his wines and support the rural economy of Fuentealbilla, his village,” Iniesta export manager Carlos Fernandez told Unfiltered. “His [soccer] victories are part of our philosophy.”
Iniesta’s wines are already available in countries like China, Germany and Mexico—the next step is the U.S. “In the U.S., after long hours of working in such a difficult but big market, three of our most famous wines are being registered by the FDA through LAPHAM Imports,” said Fernandez. “We can count on two positive assets: La Manchuela, which is a new region to explore with wonderful wines, and the support of the world’s football stars.” So what are Iniesta’s favorite wines? An old-vine Bobal called Paolo Andrea, and an oak-aged Chardonnay, Valeria, both named for his children.
The National Hockey League announced yesterday that it will be expanding to Las Vegas in 2017, with a new team that will be majority owned by Bill Foley, the head of Foley Fine Wines who earlier this year purchased California's historic Chalone winery. Minority partners in the new team include the Maloof brothers, who Unfiltered readers will remember as the guys who pair 1982 Pétrus with Carl's Jr. hamburgers.
Foley will have at least one wine-loving colleague at his first NHL owners meeting: The NHL's Colorado Avalanche is owned by Stan Kroenke, who counts Napa's Screaming Eagle winery among his many properties.