• There's a new development in the French government's recent anti-wine stance. Even though the country can claim both some of the world's most coveted wines and the world's most famous cycling race, the Tour de France, a national campaign is underfoot to have local police direct their attention to catching the great two-wheeled menace: tipsy cyclists. Not surprisingly, wine country is up in arms. In Bordeaux, outcries are rising after police reportedly detained 10 people in one night for biking under the influence this past March, even allegedly strip-searching one woman. Unfiltered wonders if this is all leading up to French authorities finally having something to pin on Lance Armstrong as he pedals into the Champs-Elysées this summer, flute of Champagne in hand.
|Paris Hilton has apparently earned her tenure with Rich Prosecco.|
• Although her gig shilling for Rich Prosecco has her covered in gold paint, Unfiltered is curious whether socialite Paris Hilton might actually be made of Teflon. Hilton's job has been the cause of controversy since 2006 when, as Unfiltered reported, Italy's Road Safety Society protested Hilton's role in promoting an alcoholic beverage, given that she had just been arrested for failing a Breathalyzer test after being pulled over in Los Angeles. In addition, the Veneto Prosecco producers objected to the reputation-tarnishing effects that Hilton's canned beverage might have on their own product. However, despite reportedly dismal sales of Rich Prosecco (30,000 cans with a May 2009 expiration date were recently sold at auction for a deep discount, according to the U.K.'s Sun), company owner Guenther Aloys went on record this week to deny reports that the heiress would lose her position, or that her reputation as yesterday's tabloid train-wreck was harming the brand. Aloys told reporters, "[Hilton] is the perfect advert for our product. We have several campaigns that are already being planned." File that under "there's no such thing as bad publicity."
• If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Next time you pop out to buy some Champagne, steer clear of labels sporting unfamiliar names and bargain price-tags. The names Raymond Vadim, Pierre Plantard and Charles Debussy were on thousands of bottles of bubbly fobbed off as real Champagne to unsuspecting customers by a mafia ring recently dismantled in northern Italy. The fakes were discovered when a truck transporting 1,920 bottles was intercepted by French customs officers during a routine control in Lorraine in northern France. "We uncovered the fraud when we noticed spelling mistakes on the labels and a wrong postal address for Epernay in Champagne," explained customs spokesperson Luc Perigne. The Champagne counterfeiting may have been going on for years, with up to 300,000 bottles exported abroad and distributed in Italian grocery stores for around $15 a bottle.
• We all dream of trading in our desk job for the rock-star life, and if you're reading this column, A-listers like Moueix and Mondavi, not Jagger and Springsteen, are probably part of your rock-and-roll fantasies. If top-of-the-line bottles are in fact your guilty pleasure, you might be interested in the Sommelier for a Day program at San Francisco's Fifth Floor (a Wine Spectator Grand Award recipient since 2001), located in the Hotel Palomar, where stars like Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg like to crash. For $250, participants can spend a day one-on-one with Emily Wines, master sommelier and mastermind behind the restaurant's 1,500-bottle all-star list. During your 10-hour tenure, you'll taste through samples, pair wines with the evening's specials and decant and pour picks from the restaurant's 10,000-bottle cellar. You might even get lucky; Wines recalled one participant who happened to be there the night they opened a five-decade vertical of Château Rayas. "He was pretty excited," she said. The night ends with a late dinner with Wines, a chance for you to ask questions and weigh the glamorous side of the industry against the not-so-fab realities of running a restaurant. "People are usually glad they wore comfortable shoes," she said.
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