President Bush was in Napa last week and didn't so much as tip his hat to the California wine industry--which, according to the Wine Institute, has a $45.4 billion impact on the state's economy. We understand he might not be a wine guy (or alcohol guy in general), but being in Napa and not mentioning wine is like being in Detroit and not mentioning cars. The California wine industry is a mostly nonsubsidized agricultural endeavor--at least, not the way it is in Europe--that employs 200,000 hard workers (like yours truly) and that preserves agricultural land and the family farm. While in Napa, Bush went for a mountain-bike ride and had a quiet night at the Meadowood resort, though it wasn't an "official" visit. His motorcade avoided the thousands of demonstrators that lined the streets (some for him, some against him). He didn't even mention the recent floods in Napa, or the flood-control project. With wine being the nation's alcoholic beverage of choice, we think he should have at least posed in a vineyard to show he's aware of what all the fuss is about.
|O'Connell planted vines for Romijn, the only way to say, "I love you."|
Unfiltered was saddened to hear that Alexis Jacques Bespaloff, the noted wine critic and writer, died on April 22 at the age of 71, in Las Cruces, N.M., after a long battle with cancer. Bespaloff--an urbane and witty cosmopolitan who was born in Romania, lived in Brazil and attended Harvard University--became one of America's most important wine writers in the 1970s. His many publications included The Signet Book of Wine (1971) and a revised and updated edition of The Frank Schoonmaker Encyclopedia of Wine (1988). Bespaloff was also wine critic at New York magazine for more than two decades. He is survived by his wife, photographer Cecilia Lewis. His friends remember the message on his telephone answering machine: "I am unable to take your call at this time. If this is an emergency, remember, white wine with fish, red with beef."
|Commemorative wines for the All-Star Game are the most exciting thing about baseball in Pittsburgh this year.|
|Clearly a future winemaker ... He's crying from his early harvest.|
It seems that not long ago, wine in a drink box was just a joke. But the minds behind Three Thieves--Joel Gott, Roger Scommegna and Charles Bieler--know a thing or two about packaging. First they made jug wines hip again. Then with their Bandit line, they proved that 1-liter Tetra Briks are not just for soy milk and chicken stock. Now they've come up with a single-serving "bullet" for Bandit, essentially a narrow juice box that holds 250ml. It's handy, and Unfiltered gave both the '04 Pinot Grigio and '02 Cabernet Sauvignon a shot (both come in packs of four, priced at $8.99). We have a few tips when enjoying: First, don't look for a straw. Doesn't come with one. Second, resist every urge to shake the box before drinking, as Unfiltered did. The bubbles don't help. And finally, when you're done with the drink, it's really fun to smash the packaging against your forehead to flatten it for your recycling container. Really fun.
Remember Earth Day? Neither did Unfiltered. (The first Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 1970, is credited with leading to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.) Last weekend, however, sommelier Laura Maniec reminded us of our obligations to Mother Nature, and in our favorite way. As corporate sommelier of BR Guest Restaurant Group, she matched a list of organic wines to special Earth Day menus featuring dishes composed of organically raised produce grown or raised under environmentally sustainable practices. The restaurant group also made donations to City Parks Foundation (New York) and Friends of the Parks (Chicago). Participating restaurants included Barça 18, Ruby Foo's, Dos Caminos and Atlantic Grill in New York and Blue Water Grill in Chicago, among others. A growing selection of organic wines, as well as some of the environmentally friendly dishes, will continue to be available at a few of the restaurants. And with entrées like naturally raised Kobe flatiron steak with asparagus and twice-baked potato and spiced, pecan-crusted wild striped bass with organic sweet corn tamale and Vidalia onion salsita, this is just the kind of environmental activism Unfiltered can get behind.
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