• Long Island wines got hired for some prime-time exposure Monday night on NBC's The Apprentice. Donald Trump likes to give the winners of each episode's challenge a special treat, and what could be more special than making your own case of red wine? The three members of Team Synergy went to Raphael on Long Island's North Fork, where winemaker Richard Olsen-Harbich instructed them in stomping grapes and blending wines to produce a case of Meritage for each team member. The episode was shot in September, and as Olsen-Harbich explains, the behind-the-scenes process was more complex than it appeared. (You can't stomp grapes and make wine in four hours). The three women each sampled lots of 2004 Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec and devised their own blends. Then Olsen-Harbich and his team made a case for each contestant in record time. "It was a new thing for me," he says, "but it was fun, and if it helps get some exposure for [Long Island's] East End, it's a good thing." Since rumors abound that this will be The Apprentice's last season, Unfiltered just hopes the Donald isn't eyeing the North Fork real-estate biz. Vineyard prices are high enough there as it is.
• Some Americans refuse to allow foie gras to be banned without putting up a fight, or at least not without going out in a blaze of fatty liver glory. Two weeks ago, animal-rights activists successfully lobbied Chicago's city council to enact a ban on the sale of the fattened duck and goose livers, starting in August. California has already passed a ban that will take effect in 2012, and the activists, who object to the force-feeding of the birds, are now gathering the signatures of people calling for a similar ban in Philadelphia. (We have to wonder why they are worrying so much about small duck farms, as opposed to industrial chicken factories.) In response, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, D'Artagnan and other leading producers and distributors have formed the North American Foie Gras Producers Association to lobby against the bans. In addition, Sonoma Foie Gras, already a target of activists, is suing Whole Foods Market after the grocery chain threatened to terminate its contract with Grimaud Farms unless Grimaud stopped distributing Sonoma foie gras; Grimaud has been the farm's sole distributor. Meanwhile, one Chicago chef plans to offer foie gras while he can--a lot of it. Graham Elliot Bowles at Avenues, in the Peninsula Hotel, is offering a tasting menu of 10 foie gras courses for $238 until the ban takes effect. Makes Unfiltered want to go back to sweet home Chicago.
|Divine Bar has never been shy about wine...or the attributes of its staff.|
|A new twist on an artist's series.|
• A tragic explosion in Adelaide on May 2 left one man dead and reduced a wine shop to rubble. According to Ken James, one of the directors of the Wine Underground on Pirie Street, the blast completely destroyed the contents of their cellar, which was full of first-growth Bordeaux, top Australian labels and lesser-known bottlings from smaller wineries. The café above Wine Underground, which was situated in the basement, was also destroyed. James said he was told by fire investigators that the body of the café's owner, 49-year-old Frank Levato, was found along with numerous cans of gasoline. The case is still under investigation, but Australian press reports have speculated that Levato's financial problems may have played a part. Police also have not ruled out homicide. "It was a series of stupid, unfortunate events, but we'll get our chance to rebuild," said James, who noted that the wine stocks were insured. The 3-year-old company was unique for Australia in that it combined a wine bar and restaurant with retail and Internet wine sales, he explained. "Business had just started to really get going. But for now, we can't operate from a hole in the ground."
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions