The entire world of golf entered this past weekend's Ryder Cup international competition with a heavy heart—earlier in the week, legendary golfer Arnold Palmer passed away at age 87. Palmer, the subject of a 2004 Wine Spectator cover story, still holds the record for most Ryder Cup matches won by an American (22), so it was with added motivation that the American team entered this year's tournament at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., especially considering the U.S. had only won one Ryder Cup this century.
You already know how the story ends, but you might not have known which Champagne the U.S. team members showered each other with at the victory celebration: Moët & Chandon, an official sponsor of the Ryder Cup in Europe, was the designated bubbly this past Sunday. But it wasn't all bubbles, of course. There was another European making its debut at the U.S. Ryder Cup: Baron Philippe de Rothschild Bordeaux Mouton Cadet Ryder Cup Special Cuvée 2014 ($15), adorned with an embossed label illustration by renowned golf-course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., whose father, Jones Sr., designed Hazeltine. Hopefully there was plenty of iced tea and lemonade around, too, because we know Palmer would have wanted it that way.
Unfiltered’s favorite 7 foot 6 inch basketball Hall of Famer–turned-vintner, Yao Ming, has a thing for sharks. “I used to play for the [Shanghai] Sharks, and I’m now the owner,” he told us via email. “So sharks are a personal favorite, but I also really like elephants, rhinos and giraffes.”
The eight-time NBA All-Star recently celebrated 10 years of supporting these and other endangered species with the release of a special bottling of his Yao Family Napa Crest Napa Valley 2014 WildAid commemorative edition. Priced at $100 a bottle, 100 percent of the net proceeds go directly to WildAid, the partnering nonprofit organization that fights illegal wildlife trafficking.
The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blend is available for purchase now, and will ship to consumers in November. The six-bottle “Rhino Pack” ($500) is accompanied by a signed print of the label art by wildlife photographer Chrystina Geagan, and the 12-bottle “Elephant Pack” ($1,500) also includes a bottle signed by Yao.
“We are trying to stop people from buying products that are causing the deaths of so many animals. We've reduced the consumption of shark-fin soup by 82 percent since our campaign began," Yao said. "Animal products like shark-fin soup and ivory are not sustainable, but wine is. I hope we can encourage some people to purchase wine instead.”
Dom Pérignon Champagne has released a new promo video for its recently released 1998 Plénitude P2 (96 points, $350). Starring Academy Award–winning actor Christoph Waltz, the video portrays the emotional range the Inglourious Basterds villain experiences with a quaff of Dom. Shot by portrait photographer Billy Kidd, the black-and-white film is set to "Ode to Joy" from Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, while a mysterious breeze gently tousles Waltz' hair. Unfiltered predicts that, if the campaign goes well, Waltz will be in line for a speaking role soon.
As if the vintners of France's Chablis region haven't had enough to worry about—frost in April, hail in May, mildew in June and July, and drought in September, sapping 2016 production by an estimated 1.5 million cases. Now they've learned that a proposed asphalt plant received approval from a regional commission of inquiry, despite vintners' concerns about contamination and economic peril.
The mobile asphalt plant is part of a highway project launched last April by Autoroutes-Paris-Rhin-Rhone (APRR), with the objective of adding a lane to the highway between Paris and Burgundy. APRR requested a 25-year authorization for a site located next to the A6 in Saint-Cyr-les-Colons, less than two miles from the vineyards of Chablis.
“It’s a catastrophe,” said Julien Brocard, general manager of Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Préhy, warning of the “economic risk for Chablis.” The plant will produce gigantic volumes of asphalt—“500 tonnes per hour,” groaned Brocard to Unfiltered, adding that the fuel-fired heating process “is very polluting.” The wind generally blows from the west, and the proposed site sits southwest of Chablis. Vintners, the Chablis wine syndicate, the BIVB (Burgundy wine council) and environmentalists all fear the cumulative impact on vines.
“This condemns our way of growing grapes,” said Brocard, who has 100 employees and 494 acres under vine, 247 of which are farmed organically. As a peacekeeping measure, the commission suggested a hiatus on asphalt production during flowering. However, the APRR complained it would pose an extreme handicap, as they are already accommodating holiday traffic in July and August and will be hampered by winter. Vintners say it’s not enough, arguing production must halt from flowering through harvest. Or, better yet, choose another site. The regional prefect will hand down a decision at the end of the month.
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