• Bottles of 2007 Ca' del Solo Albariño, 2004 Le Cigare Volant and Orange Muscat continued to flow as fires raged outside the Bonny Doon Tasting Room in Santa Cruz, Calif., last Wednesday. The fire started at a nearby ecological preserve before consuming an estimated 700 acres and threatening two nearby vineyards, including Beauregard Ranch's Pinot Noir plots. The fire damaged several nearby buildings, four homes and the Bonny Doon lavender farm, and while the tasting room was unscathed, it incurred some smoke damage and required an airing-out. "We dodged a big bullet," said Cindy Molchany, the tasting-room manager who first noticed smoke and a dark orange cloud in the sky in the early afternoon. Once the fire was confirmed, six patrons, who were in the middle of a tasting, were evacuated, though several other patrons insisted on completing purchases before leaving the premises. Can we take their stubbornness to mean that some people will literally walk through fire for the wines they seek?
Storage conditions were somewhat more humid than is optimal.
• "Let's see, we placed that wine order more than 2,400 years ago, so where could it be?" Last week we showed you a few pallets of Louis Roederer's Brut Premier being aged for a year under the sea in northwest France, and now for something a little older: Members of the Cyprus Department of Antiquities recently discovered the remains of a ship loaded with wine, a mile off its southern coast in the Mediterranean Sea. According to department archaeologist Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou, the ship sank in the mid-4th century B.C. for reasons yet unknown, and contains more than 500 wine amphorae visible on its deck, with many more expected to be discovered in the hull. Solomidou-Ieronymidou said that "the ship was carrying the renowned red wine of Chios, perhaps the most expensive Greek wine of the Classical period," a detail that the archaeologists were able to ascertain based on the distinctive shapes of the amphorae, some of which were salvaged during the second survey of the site, conducted at the end of May. The shipwreck of Mazotos, named for a nearby village, is one of only a handful of Cypriot archaeological finds from this period, and is said to be in excellent condition. Several of the amphorae are being conserved for display at the island's Larnaca Museum, and although Unfiltered suspects the 2,400-year-old Chios might be slightly past its drinking window, we hope to drop by and try a sample.
• Unfiltered generally likes "clean" wines—that is to say, wines without imperfections like volatile acidity, brettanomyces, or ethyl acetate (which can taste like harsh vinegar, burnt plastic or nail polish remover, respectively). But in its pursuit of clean wines, perhaps one Queenstown, New Zealand, restaurant took things a bit too far. The owners of the Old Man Rock Cafe admitted in court earlier this week that, in July 2007, soap had been served to two customers in place of mulled wine. How one confuses soap for wine is not so certain, but don't blame the waitress: The liquid was being stored in a recycled Mountain Thunder mulled wine container, and was apparently the same color and texture as the wine (yikes!). The two women who filed the suit (a customer and the waitress who tasted the liquid once the customer complained) were each awarded NZ$1,000 to compensate for their emotional harm. Unfiltered hopes that they'll use that money to buy some of their home country's well-regarded Sauvignon Blancs or Pinot Noirs—and that they'll make sure the wines are sold in their original bottles.
• Admit it: When you first hear about 29 Cosmetics, a beauty collection inspired by Napa, you think it must be leaf-green camouflage for skulking around vineyards on reconnaissance missions for industry secrets. No? Just us? Maybe the summer blockbuster movie season is getting to us. Anyway, the cosmetics and skin care line actually (as some of you must have guessed) incorporates grape-seed extract into its products, which we also recently saw in Champagne, and which is thought to protect against aging. The company comes with a complete Napa pedigree: The founder, Lydia Mondavi, is the wife of Rob Mondavi, winemaker at Spellbound and grandson of the late Robert Mondavi. The makeup, named for Highway 29, which winds through the Napa Valley, takes poetic inspiration from the area's main industry, with an eye-shadow palette called "Napa Grapes" and mascara dubbed "D'Vine." As for Unfiltered, we'd rather drink the essence of Napa than put it on our faces, but to each his own.
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