• It turns out Kendall-Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson knew what he was doing when he paid an estimated upper seven-digit-sum for Kentucky Oaks champion filly Rachel Alexandra to join his Stonestreet Farms stables this month. The astounding mare was the morning line favorite to win this past weekend's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, Md., and she did just that, dominating the field of highly regarded colts despite drawing the unlucky far outside post 13, from which no horse had ever before won. Jackson clearly has a good eye for the ponies—this is the second Preakness champion to come out of Stonestreet in three years. Champion thoroughbred Curlin won both the 2007 Preakness Stakes and 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic as well as the 2008 Dubai World Cup on his way to being named Horse of the Year in both 2007 and 2008 and earning more prize money than any horse in history. And now Jackson plans to breed the two Preakness winners when Rachel Alexandra's racing career is over, no doubt creating some sort of super-horse which will dominate the Preakness for years and may or may not become Kendall-Jackson winery's first spokeshorse.
Jay-Z's Italian threads are now being paired with some highly sought-after Italian reds.
• We all know what Jay-Z thinks of Louis Roederer Cristal. But what Unfiltered didn't know was that, in addition to his taste for pricey Champagne, Jay-Z has a thing for super Tuscans. In a "technical rider" (the document a production company sends out prior to an artist arriving for their performance that details the requirements for the artist's travel and backstage setup) issued last month, Jay-Z's needs were outlined for a concert at the University of Arizona, which predictably included two bottles of Armand de Brignac, the "Ace of Spades" Champagne he has featured in his videos since rebuffing Cristal. And of course "one late-model black Maybach 57 or 62 with tinted windows," Jay-Z's ride of choice. The Maybach and Brignac demands came as no surprise, but also on the list: two bottles of 2004 Sassicaia, helpfully elaborated to the venue's management as "red, Italian wine from Bolgheri region." Seems the 40/40 Club and New Jersey Nets co-owning hip-hop impresario is serious about his still wine too. (Unfortunately for Jay-Z, the University of Arizona's campus alcohol policies prohibited his wine demands from being fulfilled.)
• What do restaurateur Julien Hug and winemaker Jesse Kovacs have in common? Each is vying to win the heart and hand of Jillian Harris, a restaurant interior designer from Vancouver and the star of ABC's reality TV show, The Bachelorette (the season began this past Monday evening). The 34-year-old Hug runs Mille Fleurs, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning restaurant located in posh Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. The 27-year-old Kovacs makes wine at a small winery in California's Santa Lucia Mountains. Both bachelors will be competing against 28 others, including an Olympic cyclist, a break-dance instructor, a commercial pilot, a lawyer and a general contractor. Some of the bachelors are in for intimate dates in California, Hawaii and Spain, as well as a cross-country train trip through Harris' native Canada. One lucky guy will accompany Jillian on her ultimate dream date—a private concert with wine lover and country singer Martina McBride (who also has her own wine label) at the House of Blues in Hollywood.
We're affectionately calling this Adam Lee's "I'm trying something new" face.
• Every so often, Unfiltered gets an e-mail that we think you'd enjoy, and this week we heard from Siduri and Novy Family winemaker and cofounder Adam Lee, who is also a former WineSpectator.com guest blogger. We'll let him take it from here: "Harvey Steiman may get to write about food and wine from great restaurants all over the country, but when was the last time he ate raccoon? As winemakers, Dianna and I have enjoyed some of the world's finest foods and wines, but in terms of gustatory firsts, nothing compares to our recent trip to South Carolina's amazing Low Country. We spent a week along the May River at the extraordinary Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, enjoying sommelier Jason Carlen's incredible Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning wine list. While biking around the property, we encountered many firsts, not the least of which was the heart-pounding shock of passing within feet of a rather large alligator. But the highlight was having chef and author Sallie Ann Robinson pair our wines with the Gullah cuisine of her Daufuskie Island home. The Gullah people, most of whom are descended from African slaves, continue to keep alive their cultural traditions, including their indigenous cuisine, which Sallie Ann has chronicled in two cookbooks, Gullah Home Cooking, the Daufuskie Way and Cooking the Gullah Way.
"Talk about an adventure in eating: The pairings were as sumptuous as they were novel, from our Siduri Pinot paired with "smuttered" rabbit to our Novy Nebbiolo with collard greens, Hoppin' John (Caribbean rice and beans), lima beans and fried sweet potatoes. But nothing prepared us for the pairing of our Pinot and BBQ 'coon sliders! Barbecued raccoon! For the record, raccoon does not taste like chicken … or anything else we have ever tried. But it was surprisingly delicious and as memorable as our lazy Low Country nights sipping wine along the banks of the moon-drenched May River."
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