Tattoo artist to the stars–turned-vintner Scott Campbell wanted to celebrate the latest releases of his Saved Wines at a chill house party, with good food made by his good friend. So last week, he did just that … except the "house" was a techno-futuristic downtown Manhattan partyscape, and his "good friend" happened to be Major Food Group maestro, 2017 Wine Spectator Chefs' Challenge contestant, and Dec. 15, 2017, issue cover boy Mario Carbone.
Revelers at Soho's World of McIntosh Townhouse—setting for the headquarters of "fsociety" in season two of USA Network's psycho-thriller Mr. Robot—oohed and ahhed at Carbone cooking for the crowd and Campbell inking five lucky partygoers with new designs, washing it all down with Saved "Magic Maker" California rosé and red blend; the artist has been dabbling in wine since 2013.
Though Unfiltered didn't walk away tatted up, we did get a chance to hang with real-life pals Campbell and Carbone, who chatted about their mutual love of nosh and tattoos. It turns out Carbone has a full sleeve courtesy of Campbell; he told Unfiltered that he sometimes walks into Campbell's shop and gets inked with whatever the artist dreams up that day. Returning the favor, Carbone has helped out Campbell with a last-minute reservation a time or two—saving the day, for example, on Campbell's anniversary with his wife, actor-director-screenwriter Lake Bell.
Zhao Wei (aka Vicky Zhao) is one of China's biggest celebrities—a movie star, director, singer and one half of a billionaire power couple—so, in the fashion of the early-'10s Chinese elite, she purchased a Bordeaux estate in 2011. But Château Monlot, her 21-acre property, became a passion project and second home to Zhao and family. Last week, she threw a Bordeaux bash with the best of them to celebrate the completion of her yearslong project to wholly refurbish and modernize the château and cellars. "I didn't choose St.-Emilion," Zhao told Unfiltered at the party. "St.-Emilion chose me."
Also on hand to fete the nouveau Monlot's debut: prominent European winemakers Jean-Claude Berrouet (the former Pétrus craftsman who consults for Zhao), and Sting, who was inducted that night into the Jurade of St.-Emilion, a centuries-old not-so-secret society of cape- and frock-clad St.-Emilionians and friends of the vin. "I've played in Bordeaux many times, but I've never been to the countryside," the singer-vintner told Unfiltered. "I'm aware of the tradition and history of this fine wine, so it's lovely to be invited here as a fellow winegrower."
Zhao, who shot to stardom in the hit TV drama My Fair Princess and went on to star in blockbusters like Shaolin Soccer, Painted Skin and Lost in Hong Kong, first visited Bordeaux in 2008; she has since acquired Château La Vue in St.-Emilion and Château Senailhac, a Bordeaux Supérieur, as well.
Berrouet characterized his mission at Monlot as creating an identity for the wine that reflects the three types of soil and grape varieties at the estate. "I want this wine to tell the story of its terroir," Berrouet told Unfiltered. "I want to find a harmony between the aromatic expression and the structure."
After a dinner by chef Christian Le Squer of Paris' Le Cinq, guests were treated to fireworks and an impromptu performance from Sting, whose "Message in a Bottle" has lately become a staple at all the best wine parties.
So far, though, spring has been promising for the forces of winejustice: On April 4, gendarmes in the Lyon area brought down a ring of eight people who had allegedly committed at least seven burglaries in the region. The most prominent victim: Auberge du Père Bise, an epicurean destination on the shore of Lake Annecy, where decorated chef Jean Sulpice and his somm wife, Magali, had lost $494,000 worth of wine in a late-night raid just days after earning two Michelin stars. But following clues from security-camera footage, police executed a sting that netted the suspects—and more than 200 of the 320 rare and old bottles taken from the Sulpices, including caches of Pétrus, Guigal, Yquem and Lafite. On the inn's Facebook page, Sulpice wrote of "great relief and a lot of emotion," thanking the police for their diligence. "A century of work has just been saved."
The alleged cellar raiders, like the French Laundry thieves of 2014, now face hard time for winecrime: up to 10 years, according to France Bleu. Here's hoping for a criminally mild few months before the dog days of summer—winevandalism season—are upon us.
Last week, the Willamette Valley Wineries Association's annual "Willamette: The Pinot Noir Auction" returned for its third go-'round, bigger and better than ever, raising over $800,000 for the organization. With more than 80 wine lots—and 50 percent increase in bidder participation over last year—the event served as a showcase for Oregon's 2016 vintage, a breakout success according to auction chair and Soléna vintner Laurent Montalieu.
“We tasked ourselves to create this event with the idea that we were going to make the equation 'Pinot Noir equals Willamette Valley' completely true,” Montalieu told Unfiltered. “[The 2016 vintage] is going to become a new benchmark of what the Willamette Valley can do with Pinot Noirs.”
If the top lots are any indication, we may indeed have reached a point where Oregon's best can fetch Burgundy money. The leading lot, 5 cases of Antica Terrica Alder Creek Pinot Noir, sold for $33,000 (that's $550 a bottle!). Chardonnay had its shining moments, too, most notably in a 5-case lot of a collaborative wine by Bethel Heights and Walter Scott Wines that sold for $12,000. “Like in many regions of the world where [Pinot Noir and Chardonnay] are side-by-side, we are now showing, too, that the Chardonnay we are making in the Willamette Valley is strictly world-class,” Montalieu said.
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