• Beauty queen Laetitia Bléger, the ex-Miss France 2004 who was forced to relinquish her title after posing that year for French Playboy, now has a new title: winemaker. Her first bottling, called Précieux (Precious), is a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer from Domaine de Windmuehl, the Alsace estate where her father Claude Bléger makes white and red wines. The brand has been rolled out in a label-free version of the traditional Alsace-style bottle that features, naturally, the serigraphic image of a slender and attractive woman. Available at a cellar-door price of $17.50, Précieux has already made its way onto the wine lists of several Parisian restaurants whose proprietors apparently just couldn't say no to Laetitia.
• Thinking of buying some Champagne in England, but the deal seems too good to be true? There may be a reason for that. Louis Roederer is appealing to wine buyers in the UK to keep an eye out for a recently hijacked shipment of its Champagne. The French producer believes the thieves will be looking to offload 18 stolen pallets of its product for well below the $820,000 retail value. According to local coverage in the East Herts Herald, a shipment of 1,134 cases of various Louis Roederer bottlings was stolen from a truck on its way into London. It seems some clever con-artists diverted the driver to a remote location, where they then raided the truck's contents. Among the missing bottles are 6 jeroboams of Domaines Ott Blanc de Blancs Clos Mireille 2007, 180 magnums of Louis Roederer Brut Champagne 2003, and 84 cases of Brut Champagne Premier NV half bottles.
• The Tetra-Pak (aka "wine juice box") format may not win any prizes for snob appeal, but it is apparently the best in one important regard. According to a study just published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the Tetra-Pak is better than any other wine container available (up to 45% better) at removing what is commonly known as "ladybug taint" (alkyl-methoxypyrazines, for the beaker-and-labcoat set), which is caused by an excess of insects, notably Asian lady beetles, being crushed into the affected wine. The defect manifests as an excessively "green" flavor or aroma in the wine, reminiscent of green peas, bell peppers or unripe grapes, which were originally thought to be the cause of the taint. Though the researchers admitted they aren't 100% sure why the package is better at removing the compound, they speculate that it has to do with the plastic membrane inside the Pak that attracts the compound on a molecular level, and the thin layer of aluminum on the other side that binds the offensive components, permanently removing them from the wine.
Wet nose, furry body.
• If you didn't know that last Friday was National Take Your Dog to Work Day, you probably also didn't know that it was also Take Your Dog to Dinner Night. The latter "holiday" was dreamed up by Manfred Esser, owner of Napa's Esser Vineyard, who is so passionate about his own pet Dachshund, Ludwig, that he made him the company's Chairman of the Board. Participating restaurants in New York, Chicago, Florida and Kentucky (though, oddly enough, not California) served meals paired with Esser wines to the human clientele, with partial proceeds from the events being donated to animal shelters and charities in their respective states. "I realized … we could create a wonderful opportunity for dog lovers (most of whom are also wine lovers) to bring their dogs to dinner and sample great food and wine together," said Esser in a press release following the event. No word on the dogs' impressions of the wine and food, or whether they spit, swallowed or drooled.
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