• Unfiltered has a spoiler alert for the new James Bond film Quantum of Solace. OK, so it's not as big a leak as the widespread reports that the latest Bond girl, Gemma Arterton, dies in the new movie by being covered in oil. However, in conjunction with the movie's U.S. release next week, the legendary British super spy, played by steely-eyed hunk Daniel Craig, is having his favorite Champagne specially bottled for the latest adventure. Champagne Bollinger has created a limited number of magnums of its Grande Année 1999 enclosed in a silver case based on the form of a Walther PPK bullet, to honor the bubbly's appearance in every Bond movie since the release of Moonraker in 1979. Unfortunately, it appears that the Champagne bullet will not be available in the United States. A shame, since Unfiltered had planned to use it as an adornment to the missile-loaded Aston Martin DBS we have parked in the garage. Or perhaps just to try our luck with it at an online collectible auction.
Eat fries, make wine.
• Speaking of Aston-Martins, while Prince Charles is converting surplus wine into fuel for his Aston Martin in England, winemaker Ron Coleman at Tamarack Cellars in Walla Walla, Wash., is using leftover French fry oil to facilitate his winemaking. Coleman, who also owns the Ice-Burg, a local drive-in, recently converted a diesel-powered Ford truck to run on the used oil from the restaurant's fryers. He then uses the truck to transport picked grapes to his winery. "My vineyards are all over the state, and I end up doing a lot of driving. [Fuel was] a major expense," he said. He reasoned that the vegetable oil-powered truck is a way to reuse a product he already paid for—the vegetable oil—while reducing his carbon footprint by using less gasoline. Unfiltered says that anything that gives us another reason to eat French fries and drink wine is a great idea.
• The nearly 137 million Americans who cast a vote in the 2008 election had good reason to pop a cork on something special last night, whether it was to celebrate or take the edge off their sorrows. But residents in seven states were unable to join in, unless they'd had the foresight to buy something ahead of time. Blue laws in a handful of states still restrict alcohol sales on Election Day. In Kentucky, Indiana and South Carolina, sales are banned at restaurants, bars and liquor stores. In Utah and West Virginia, the ban only applies to liquor stores. Alaska and Massachusetts also have bans, but local governments can exempt their residents. The bans are just a few of dozens of blue laws that remain on the books, and were most likely first instituted back when candidates would distribute free drinks outside polling places to try and curry favor. In fact, the earliest printed use of the term "cocktail" appeared in a New York newspaper in 1806, in which it was said that a cocktail "… is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head … a person swallowing a glass of it is ready to swallow anything else." Still, in this day and age, perhaps one of President-Elect Barack Obama's first initiatives should be to send a prodding note to seven governors, hinting that it's time for a change.
One of the tamer labels from Château Barrail de Graves.
• If you were to judge the Bordeaux of Château Barrail de Graves by their labels, you might say they were cheeky, racy and, in some cases, downright raunchy. Since 1977, St.-Emilion winemaker Gérard Descramble has been soliciting the work of satirical cartoon artists for his labels. The first such artist to contribute a drawing was Jean-Marc Reiser, and other contributors include Jean-Marie Cavada and Georges Wolinksi, whose work is pictured here. Descrambe agreed that the label drawings aren't always politically correct, but pointed out that he doesn't believe in censorship. He added that although his wines' labels attract art collectors, the downside is that they don't tend to replenish their cellars as often as wine lovers: "Unfortunately, [art] collectors aren't big wine drinkers," admitted Descrambe.
These wines have bite, but they'll mellow if cared for properly.
• The Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS), an animal rescue organization in Kanab, Utah, is helping raise money to care for the pit bulls rescued last year from the dog-fighting ring spearheaded by imprisoned Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. Artist and BFAS Founder Cyrus Mejia created a series of paintings featuring the rescued dogs for wine labels to be used by the Dog Lovers Wine Club, one of a number of charity-based wine programs operated by the Carivintas Winery in Buellton, Calif. Carivintas will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from each sale to BFAS. Mejia hopes that the portraits will help paint a different picture of the dogs that are often thought of as vicious, despite the fact that they make good pets if treated humanely.
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