• As usual, the latest vintage of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild bears a painting by a world-renowned artist, this time British painter Lucian Freud, grandson of famed psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. (It's apparently a good month for British artists and wine labels.) The 2006 Mouton label features a red and yellow zebra gazing at a potted palm and interpreted, rather imaginatively in the winery's press release announcing the new label, as "a joyously exotic transposition of the pleasure of drinking, in which the vine stock is transformed into a springing palm tree and the wine lover into a happily anticipatory zebra." It's also reminiscent of one of Freud's earliest works, The Painter's Room, commissioned for a book of poetry in the early 1940s. Freud reportedly received the traditional payment of 10 cases of Mouton in the vintage for which the label was created. At a mere $500 per bottle, we think Mouton got quite a deal considering Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping garnered $33.6 million at a Christie's auction last year, the highest sum ever paid for a work by a living artist.
|Here's hoping Usher has more to cheer in the coming months.|
• It's been a tough year so far for fellow wine geek and R&B star Usher. His Atlanta wine bar, the Grape, appears to have been crushed by the recession. The wine bar, bistro and retailer, which originally opened in 2006, didn't reopen after New Year's, and the liquor license hasn't been renewed. The parent company, Grape Enterprise Group, has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. When we talked to Usher back in 2007, he told us he had big plans for the Grape, and was planning on expanding the wine bar franchise to New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Tokyo. While celebrity restaurants and wine bars come and go, any guy who mentions De Venoge among his favorite things to sip is all right by us, and our thoughts go out to him and his family this week after his wife, Tameka, suffered an apparent cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure. A sobering reminder that there are more important things in life than owning your own wine bar.
• Does processing and producing wine count as agriculture? Apparently in a small town in New York state it doesn't. For nearly two years, Hudson Valley-based Rivendell winery fought a legal battle to build a mixed-use winery in the town of New Paltz, N.Y., but a recent court ruling, coupled with the rising costs of legal fees, has forced the winery to close. The winery's founders, Robert Ransom and Susan Wine, were planning to move their 20-year-old winery to a property in New Paltz, with the intent of renovating an existing building into a winery and tasting room. Their plans came to an abrupt halt when a New Paltz building inspector determined that the proposed plan was not permitted under local agricultural zoning laws. When the town's Zoning Board of Appeals supported the inspector's ruling, the couple appealed their case to the New York Supreme Court. But Ulster County Supreme Court Judge Gerald Connolly recently ruled that the couple's proposed farm winery was not permitted agricultural use. According to the Hudson Valley's Daily Freeman, New Paltz resident David Porter applauded the decision. "Rivendell doesn't even grow its own grapes," he said. "They're not agriculture, they're commercial." Unfiltered can only wonder how the négociants and cooperatives of Burgundy feel about this.
|This face doesn't really stimulate our palate ...|
• Did you hear the one about the Australian winery that's putting out a line of wines with Osama bin Laden on the label? Well, unfortunately, that's no joke. Moorilla Winery, owned by art collector David Walsh, has announced they are outfitting the latest vintage of their Praxis line of wines with graffiti renderings of public enemy No. 1 bin Laden and Abu Ghraib prison. We suppose there's a debate to be had about philosophical underpinnings that goes something like "this is a political statement to test if the U.S. will import the wine." But there are so many real things to be outraged by—you know, like actual wars—that we're having a hard time getting worked up over yet another gimmicky label. And really, like our mom always said, it's what's on the inside that counts.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions