• San Antonio Spurs basketball player Tony Parker, who is French, was in Paris this past week, celebrating not only his wedding anniversary with actress wife and restaurateur Eva Longoria, but also the birthday of his brother, Pierre. Pierre’s party was held at posh celebrity-magnet club the V.I.P. Room on Rue de Rivoli where, after their requisite red-carpet photo-op, Parker presented his brother with what appears to be a jeroboam of Roederer Cristal (although the famously puntless Champagne is clearly punted in the photos we’ve seen). Regardless of the bottle’s exact identity, Unfiltered is certainly putting Parker on the invite list for our next birthday—jeroboams of Champagne are a can’t-miss party favor.
Peter Yealands' new flock of "baby-doll" sheep are the newest attraction at New Zealand's largest privately-owned vineyard.
• We’ve talked a lot about environmentally friendly winemaking practices in Unfiltered, from reduced-weight glass and plastic bottles to cork recycling to a “green” fish-and-chips shop in London, but this is a first: a vineyard owner in New Zealand is forgoing gas-guzzling lawn tractors in favor of the grass-mowing power of miniature sheep. Peter Yealands, owner of Yealands Estate, the largest privately owned vineyard in New Zealand, has begun importing “baby-doll” sheep from Australia to cut down on the labor and fuel expense involved in mowing his 1,000-hectare vineyard eight to 12 times per year. Because these particular sheep stand no more than 2 feet high, they cannot reach the grapes and are limited to a grass-only diet. So far Yealands has just 10 sheep, but he plans to establish a flock of up to 10,000 of the animals to help maintain his property. He told New Zealand’s National Business Review, “They’re like little bags of meat on legs, but they’re also just so bloody cute. They look like little koalas at that size.”
• It's a simple rule of etiquette: Just because you come to a party and bring a friend a nice bottle of wine doesn't mean that friend is obligated to serve that wine. Unfiltered's State Department correspondent reported from last week's G8 Summit in Umbria that President Barack Obama had given host and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano several wines from Italian-American winemakers, including a North Carolina Vermentino from Raffaldini Vineyards. Napolitano later hosted a dinner honoring Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Russian President Dimitri Medvedev. But the North Carolina white wine was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Napolitano showed off his own country's wine, serving a Veneto white, Sartori di Verona Ferdi 2007, and an Umbrian red, Torre Migliori Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2004. Unfiltered is certain that Napolitano simply didn’t want to share any of that delicious North Carolina Vermentino with his international counterparts.
• It seems like every week now there's some new high-tech gizmo out on the market designed to help wineries protect themselves from fraud. Unfortunately, all the mass spectrometers in the world couldn't have helped Andrew Peller Ltd., one Canada's largest wine companies. They got swindled the old-fashioned way—embezzlement. Next month, Canadian courts will sentence Christine Papakyriakou, the company's manager of financial planning, for stealing $7.4 million over 11 years. Papakyriakou apparently spent the money on vacations, jewelry and gambling. She's blaming the crime on a narcissistic personality disorder. If only there were some technology that could screen for that.
• We all remember Tang, the orange juice of astronauts, and maybe we’ve even eaten some freeze-dried food on a camping trip—not the greatest, but it’ll do in a pinch, right? Outdoor food supplier Katadyn feels no mountaineer should summit a peak without being able to celebrate with a glass of wine. Enter the Trek’n Eat powdered wine packet. That’s right, powdered wine. And that’s not even the weird part: A group of farmers in Tuscany are outraged at the product. Why? Even though Katadyn’s website makes no claims that the wine resembles those of any well-known wine regions, Tuscan grapegrowers are incensed that this “copy” of their beloved Chianti is a poor facsimile that will mislead many into thinking that Chianti comes from a packet. The packet, which yields a 200ml glass of wine complete with 8 percent alcohol (just how does one powder alcohol?), puts forth no such deception. Unfiltered thinks if the entire world understands that Tang is not orange juice, then Chianti is in no danger of being unseated by a packet of powder.
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