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The scoop on what Eddie Vedder drinks, how to get from your porch to Australia and the launch of a new naked lady label

Posted: May 17, 2006

• Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam likes wine. Secret wine. In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine, Vedder was asked about the wine he drinks on stage. He only admitted it was red. But we found out that it was actually Siduri Van der Kamp Pinot Noir. The wine is sent to Vedder without labels. We guess that means he's not that into details like alcohol content and government warnings. Yeah, us neither.

• We may not speak English the same way, play the same sports or dress the same for a day at the beach, but Americans and Australians have at least one thing in common. We both enjoy sitting out on the porch, having a drink and enjoying the summer. So Australian winery McWilliam's Hanwood Estateis holding a contest called "America's Finest Porch," for which you're invited to submit a photo of your porch and a 150-word essay on why it's the finest in America. The winner gets a trip to Sydney, all expenses paid, that includes a tour of the family vineyards and the opportunity to hang out with winemaker Scott McWilliam on his family porch. Here's a handy tip from us: If you live in one of those states where appliances on the porch are a common sight, be sure to remove yours before snapping a picture--unless it happens to be a state-of-the-art wine-storage unit.

• Bug awareness doesn't sound like fun, but we're fans of the Napa County agricultural commissioner's clever campaign to promote May as Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Awareness Month. That's right, that scary bug that can wreak havoc on vineyards and other vegetation gets its own month. The Not In My Back Yard public awareness effort is dressed up in fun posters, such as this one, to make viewers smile while still giving the insect center stage. The theory is that if we get used to the bug's ugly mug, we'll be certain to report it to the ag commissioner's office if we see one.

• With spring fever in the air, achy breaky hearts are looking for a little TLC. And what comforts more than food? Heart-healthy food. At the Chefs With Heart event, hosted by the American Heart Association at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York on May 9, well-known local chefs such as Thomas Keller of Per Se, Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Nils Noren of Aquavit joined together to prepare innovative dishes that pumped up the palate without loading down the heart. While cream, butter and eggs were conspicuously missing, fine wine was not. Red Bordeaux-style blends such as Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard Napa Valley 1996 (92 points) and Gemstone Yountville 2002 (96) were poured for guests concerned with body--their own and that of the wine. Most chefs veered toward whites when suggesting pairings for their dishes, but Roberto Santibanez, who owns the Rosa Mexicano restaurants, dared to pair his fresh guacamole with Zinfandel. "I prefer a crisp, almost sweet sparkling wine," he admitted. "But my customers have said [Zin] is very good." And with the added benefits of flavanoids and antioxidants, why wouldn't it be?

• California's Hahn Estates, the wine company that made a huge success out of the launch of HRM Rex Goliath before selling it for millions, is now moving Cycles Gladiator, its new line of five value-priced Central Coast varietals, into national distribution. The label and brand name come from a Belle Epoque poster promoting a Parisian company's popular Velocipede during the cycling craze. Hahn president Bill Leigon says they chose the image because it "speaks to the burst of energy at the end of the l9th century, with its new freedom for women." (That would be the end of the century when women still couldn't vote, were expected to wear corsets and were encouraged to stay home and keep the house.) So of course Hahn is putting a naked woman on the bottle to sell the wine. You've come a long way, baby.

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