• Gotta admit, it's tough being Prime Minister Tony Blair these days. He's got to deal with plenty of global unrest, so you'd think the guy would want a little wine to take the edge off the day. But apparently not if that wine comes from French President Jacques Chirac. As reported in the Times, according to a list of ministerial gifts received between April 2005 and March 2006 and valued at more than 140 pounds (U.S.$260), Chirac sent four lots of French wine to Blair, but the PM hasn't accepted any of it. Under British law, ministers must pay out of their own pockets when they receive gifts valued over a certain amount. However, Blair has shelled out in the past to receive certain gifts from other world leaders, and he is known to be a wine connoisseur. Rumors abound as to why he turned down these unidentified wines, ranging from the expense (good French wine ain't exactly cheap), to the strained relationship between the two leaders or even the fact that Blair prefers Italian red wines to French ones. Maybe Blair suspects that Chirac was just doing his part to drain France's glut of cheap wine. If that's the case, Blair should send him back some jellied eel and mushy peas.
• Anyone want to loan Unfiltered $28,800? Making it one of the last major players in Bordeaux to join the 2005 futures fray, Château Pétrus of Pomerol released its 2005 futures this week--for an average cost of $2,400 in the United States. That's per bottle. Which means a case is $28,800. The price is twice what a bottle of Pétrus 1995 currently sells for at auction, according to the Wine Spectator Auction Index. Granted, European bureau chief James Suckling gave the wine a preliminary score of 95-100 points in his spring barrel tastings, and Pétrus produces less wine than most châteaus, but the price left Unfiltered wondering what else you could buy for $28,800--aside from 1,200 cases of Two-Buck Chuck:
|Here's an American sparkling wine for people with too much money.|
• Survey says … Hooray Beer! After years of steady increases in popularity among the American public, culminating in last year's usurpation of beer as America's most popular alcoholic beverage, wine supposedly had a setback this month. Sadly, the latest poll from Gallup indicates that beer has once again become America's drink of choice. After a jump of 6 percent between 2004 and 2005, wine's popularity fell by the same amount in 2006. Beer, on the other hand, gained 5 percent on last year's survey results, and is now the first choice of 41 percent of the 64 percent of Americans who drink alcohol. However, we're crying foul. Beer may have received a late push in the polls, which were conducted July 6 through July 9, the final weekend of this year's Budweiser-sponsored FIFA World Cup soccer championship (an event synonymous with a massive worldwide increase in "sick days"). "The World Cup is clearly a great beer-drinking occasion," responded Anheuser-Busch vice president of global industry development Bob Lachky. "But you have to look at the bigger picture. Beer has two big advantages over wine and liquor: It's refreshing and, as a less-potent form of alcohol, is appropriate for many more occasions." Unfiltered begs to differ.
• As if it's not tough enough making a living as a winegrower in Arizona. The glassy-winged sharpshooter, an insect that carries vine-killing Pierce's disease, has been trying to set up shop in the state since late last year. In June, just when the Arizona department of agriculture thought they had the bug beaten, 22 new adult sharpshooters, possibly native-born, showed up in traps in Sierra Vista, about 15 miles from the nearest vineyard in the state's main wine region. Gov. Janet Napolitano declared a state of emergency and released $200,000 for the state's Department of Agriculture to figure out just how far the problem had spread, but the money's running out and the number of bugs is climbing. To date, 117 adults have been trapped in the Sierra Vista area and 6,000 new traps are being positioned around the state. Are the state's winegrowers worried? According to Jan Schaefer, co-owner of Keeling Schaefer Vineyards in Pearce, the growers in the area are hanging traps "to see what's out there." Hopefully all that's out there is a lost set of car keys, and not more sharpshooters.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions