• Everyone who's anyone had a bar-coded invitation to last weekend's Sao Paolo wedding of Athina Roussel, 20, heiress to the Onassis fortune, and Alvaro Affonso de Miranda, 32, a Brazilian Olympic equestrian athlete. According to various media reports, the 700 guests were asked to make donations to charity instead of sending gifts (after all, what do you give a woman reportedly worth $2.7 billion?), had to pass through a metal detector and had to leave their cell phones with security to prevent unauthorized photos from being sent to the press. (That didn't stop the paparazzi from climbing on to the roof to get shots through a skylight.) But at least one other detail leaked out: Those in attendance were treated at the reception to 1,000 bottles of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. No word on whether tipsy guests ended up singing: "999 bottles of Veuve on the bar, 999 bottles of Veuve…."
• Las Vegas, the city that always does things bigger, brighter and louder, hopes to host a world-record-breaking event this New Year's Eve with the help of Napa's Beaulieu Vineyards. BV has been the official wine sponsor of Las Vegas' yearlong centennial celebration. So to round off the year, just before midnight on Dec. 31, 12,000 people will raise a glass and take a sip of BV wine in the world's largest toast, followed by a five-mile-long fireworks display launched from 10 resort rooftops. Along with Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, a Guinness World Records representative will be on hand to make sure all 12,000 participants are drinking the same beverage at the same time. Though not confirmed yet, the wine will likely be, appropriately, BV's Century Cellars label. "We're calling this the toast of the century. We have every intention of breaking the record," says Pip Jones, PR manager at Diageo, which owns BV. The current record is held by a Japanese sake company that once rounded up 10,079 people for a toast…likely followed by the largest karaoke session ever.
• Be careful how you label your product--and where you sell it. New Zealand winery Kahurangi Estate, which produces Kiwi Red (Pinot Noir) and Kiwi White (Chardonnay), has been selling Kiwi White in Europe for several years. But winery owner Greg Day had never trademarked the name, according to the New Zealand Herald. So large French wine producer LaCheteau recently took advantage of the opening and began selling a Loire Sauvignon Blanc in Europe under the name Kiwi Cuvee. Since LaCheteau trademarked the name, the company claimed that it owns the right to use the word "kiwi" on products sold in the EU and threatened to sue Kahurangi. In the eyes of the law, LaCheteau is right, and Day told the Herald that since he can't afford to fight a big company in court, he's relabeling Kiwi White. LaCheteau's stance is a bit ironic considering that the French get upset about the use of their place names—such as Burgundy, Chablis and Champagne—on other countries' wine labels. The Kiwi Cuvee label bears an uncanny resemblance to many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs—and the bottle even has a screw cap. Just goes to show, if you can't beat 'em, surrender…er, copy 'em.
|Protesting Bordeaux winegrowers brick up a building that houses a wine-trade organization.|
• Highlands Inn wine director Bernabe de Luna resigned last month after spending seven years at the Carmel Highlands, Calif., resort and its Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning Pacific's Edge restaurant. De Luna is joining the new project of another Grand Award winner, Michael Mina, whose eponymous restaurant in San Francisco earned the Grand Award this year. Mina is opening Stone Hill Tavern in the St. Regis Monarch Beach Hotel in Dana Point, Calif., and De Luna will be in charge of the wine program, which is expected to cover 400 to 500 choices when the restaurant opens in February, according to Raj Parr, wine director for the Mina Group. Joshua Skenes, who had been at Chez TJ in San Jose, will be the chef. Meanwhile, the Highlands Inn is looking for a replacement for de Luna, who had organized the wine portion of the Park Hyatt resort's lavish Masters of Food and Wine. The annual event, whose 20th year is coming up in February, draws top chefs and vintners from around the world.
• He ain't heavy, he's my winemaker. Unfiltered held its breath with anticipation over who would be chosen to replace winemaker Luc Morlet at Peter Michael Winery after it was announced he was taking the reins at Staglin Family Vineyard. It never occurred to us that they'd simply tap Luc's younger brother, Nicolas, for the job. Nick's hands are already stained with wine; he's recently been interim associate winemaker at Joseph Phelps, and has also worked in Bordeaux and Burgundy. It's also very convenient since--should Nick ever move on from Peter Michael-- there's a third Morlet brother qualified for the job, Paulin, who runs the Pierre Morlet family vineyards in Champagne.
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