• It was one of the top Unfiltered draws of 2008 (probably because of the photo), and the Little Black Dress Wines celebrity charity auction is back next week, supporting the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation, which was founded by Jane Kaczmarek and Bradley Whitford (who played Prof. Saunders in Bottle Shock). The charity supports children's causes around the world and for 2009 is partnering with YouthAIDS, an education and prevention program. This year's auction of little black dresses worn by red-carpet regulars such as Sharon Stone, Julianne Moore and Jamie-Lynn Sigler begins on Jan. 11 and will continue into March. Unfiltered is glad to see Sigler getting into the charity game after so many years portraying Meadow Soprano, daughter of mafia kingpin Tony Soprano. This should make up for all those cases of Château Pichon-Longueville-Lalande her TV dad stole from the bikers.
|Accept no substitutes.|
• It's a great time, economically speaking, to snatch up bargains at wine auctions these days. But if you find yourself eyeing a bottle of 1811 Yquem, Unfiltered suggests you kick the tires a few times: At a recent auction in Paris at the house of Lombrail-Teucquam, a bottle of 1811 Château d'Yquem raised eyebrows when the person selling the wine decided to purchase it back for $57,000, outbidding another buyer who had offered the minimum set price of $55,000. It turns out that this rare collectors' item had yet to be authenticated by the nuclear studies center of Bordeaux Gradignan, as stipulated by the auction house, before the wine were to officially change hands. Château d'Yquem is staying out of the debate. However, Valérie Lailheugues, spokesperson for the estate, confirmed that the famed dessert wine producer cannot offer a guarantee for all its vintages. "Before 1924, the château didn't bottle all of its wine in house; merchants were accustomed to buying volumes by the barrel," she pointed out. As always, Unfiltered reminds you that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
|Trust us, this isn't any less frightening after a jug of wine.|
• God save the queen, indeed. The Brits get the fun dentists, where a quality glass of wine is civilly offered to patients before they succumb to the chair, while we in America get the funhouse mirror version: In a page out of the Little Shop of Horrors songbook, a Hudson Valley man was arrested recently for running an illegal dental surgery business out of his kitchen, using jug wine as anesthesia. When police raided his home in Peekskill, N.Y., they found orthodontic instruments caked with blood and a jug of wine, which he allegedly poured for patients to dull the pain, on the kitchen table. All jokes about British teeth aside, we'd go with the U.K. version anyday.
• One step forward, two steps back. The St.-Emilion classification saga is still alive and well as we enter the new year. Just before Christmas, the French Senate restored the status of cru classé to the eight châteaus that had been promoted with the 2006 classification. The newcomers had been left in the lurch when the courts ruled this ranking invalid in July 2008 for its biased nature, inciting the French government to reinstate the 1996 classification as a temporary substitute. With the help of lobbyists, the eight châteaus finally managed to regain their status as part of a finance law amendment passed on Dec. 19. But the victory was short-lived. Ten days later, the French Constitutional Council annulled the decision on the grounds that it was inconsistent with such legislation. So it is back to square one and a bitter start to 2009 for Châteaus Pavie-Macquin and Troplong-Mondot, which had been promoted to premier grand cru classé, and Châteaus Bellefont-Belcier, Destieux, Fleur-Cardinale, Grand Corbin, Grand Corbin-Despagne and Monbousquet, which had made the grade of grand cru classé. Stay tuned for the next act, sure to feature further legal wrangling.
|Beringer's eco-friendly new hat.|
• How do you say "green" in Australian? Ask Foster's Group. The Australia-based alcohol-beverage giant, which owns several prominent California wineries, announced the activation of the largest winery-hosted solar system in the United States yesterday at Beringer, which will generate 1.34 million watts of energy a year. At Beringer's sister winery, Souverain, a 1.15 million watt system, the third largest in the country, was activated. New solar cells have gone up at Etude and Stags' Leap Winery as well. All told, the combined systems cover more than 400,000 square feet of roof space and will reportedly eliminate 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually. The panels are owned by Perpetual Energy Systems and are under contract for use by Foster's for the next 25 years. Unfiltered is really digging this renewable resource trend among U.S. wineries, but will add a note of caution to the folks at Foster's: Get yourselves a security guard for those panels—they've become the hottest item to nick under the sun since Air Jordans and iPods.
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