Fans of tennis star Kim Clijsters are really looking forward to her serving at next week's Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp, even if her ailing ankle prevents her from playing in the tournament. That's because the Belgian native plans to serve a bottle of Champagne to everyone in attendance on the evening of Feb. 15. The event can hold 10,000 people, and according to organizing director Bob Verbeeck, Clijsters plans to buy up to that many bottles of Infini Champagne, produced by Belgian wine merchant Mampaey. With each bottle costing almost $30 a pop, it could get expensive. Yet Clijster was recently ranked the No. 1 woman in tennis following the Australian Open (even though her injury there knocked her out of the match against fellow wine lover Amélie Mauresmo), and she wants to celebrate with her fans. "Immediately after she got injured in Melbourne, Kim told me that she insists on buying a round of Champagne for her fans," Verbeeck says on the Diamond Games' Web site. Clijsters said her chances of playing at Proximus are 50-50. Verbeeck adds that the star is highly motivated to play, so she isn't just acting as a sommelier: "Quite logically she would rather play for her home audience and distribute the Champagne herself and in tennis clothing, rather than just passing by."
Rumors may be Bordeaux's second biggest crop, after grapes. No one seems to know what to make of persistent reports that one of the Left Bank's leading second-growth estates may soon be sold. Château Montrose, in St.-Estèphe, has been owned by the Charmolüe family since 1897 and has produced some of the region's biggest, boldest red wines for much of that period. Yet French newspapers report that owner Jean-Louis Charmolüe, who is in his mid-70s and has just one child, daughter Caroline, may sell the estate to Martin Bouygues, one of France's most successful businessmen. Bouygues' corporate empire includes one of Europe's largest construction companies (it helped build the Chunnel), Bouygues Telecom and TF1, the nation's leading television station. The price for Montrose has been reported at around 130 million euros. Neither Bouygues nor Charmolüe are giving interviews at this point, but two sources in Bordeaux say the reports are exaggerated and the deal is far from a sure thing.
Santa Barbara County seems to have become the capital of wine filmmaking since the debut of Sideways in 2004. Making its debut on Feb. 10 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival will be From Ground to Glass, a new documentary devoted to California wine and made by Santa Ynez Valley-based Rob DaFoe. "I hope people will dig it," says DaFoe, sounding like the professional snowboarder he once was. More than three years in the making, the film originated when DaFoe, who is now 36 and does video and photography for corporations, decided to document his first attempt at home winemaking. "The filming started out as a window into the process of making wine," says DaFoe, who produced two barrels of his own Syrah under the Crimson Ghost label with the help of winemaker Chuck Carlson at Curtis Winery. "As the wine was aging, my focus turned to interviewing winemakers, growers, home enthusiasts and visionaries from all over California." The 80-minute film, which shows considerable polish in view of its shoestring budget, includes interviews with such notable California winemakers as Paul Draper of Ridge, Warren Winiarski of Stag's Leap, Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Joel Peterson of Ravenswood. "I discovered a larger story along the way," says DaFoe. "It is their story as well as my story."
Pinot Blanc is no more. Not the wine—the Napa Valley restaurant. Chef Joachim Splichal closed his French country restaurant in St. Helena on Jan. 28, citing economic reasons. "Napa Valley in general got hit in 2001, and we thought the situation was going to get better but it didn't," says Splichal, who continues to run Patina and Pinot Bistro in Los Angeles, as well as one of the Napa Valley's best restaurants, Julia's Kitchen at the Copia center. Pinot Blanc opened with considerable fanfare in 1996 and was a popular haunt with vintners in the early days. But the kitchen went through a number of executive chefs over the years, and the food sometimes suffered. On top of that, the Napa Valley restaurant scene has changed dramatically in recent years. Yountville and Napa have become boomtowns, while more northern venues have been crying the blues. The Real Restaurants Group, which owns nearby Tra Vigne, reportedly has its eyes on the Pinot Blanc space for an American regional cuisine concept, something in the vein of the company's popular Fog City Diner in San Francisco or Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions