• It's still only spring in New Zealand, but the 2007 vintage already ranks as one for the books at Kumeu River winery on the North Island. On Nov. 4, a Cessna airplane crashed into one of its Chardonnay vineyards, tearing the shoots off dozens of vines. All told, the accident probably destroyed about a half-ton of potential crop, the equivalent of 30 cases. Posts were shattered and wires snapped before the plane came to rest upside down on two vine rows, but it could have been much worse. The six skydivers chartering the plane bailed out before the crash, and somehow even the pilot came through unscathed. "It's absolutely incredible. He was very, very lucky. He just unstrapped himself and walked away," said Milan Brajkovich, Kumeu River's vineyard manager. Only three vines were completely destroyed. And the cleanup effort avoided further damage by dismantling the plane and removing the wreckage piece-by-piece. That's welcome news, especially given the consistently outstanding quality of the Kumeu River Chardonnays. Brajkovich already laughs about it, and he certainly got a kick out of an e-mail sent to the winery, noting "hints of kerosene and a metallic finish" in the 2007. So that's what they mean by gout de terroir.
• How much do you wish you were friends with Chase Bailey? If you were, you'd be invited to quite the unique party. Bailey retired from Cisco Systems in 2000, but not before he amassed an 8,000-bottle wine collection, among them a 6-liter bottle of 1992 Screaming Eagle that he paid $500,000 for at the Napa Valley Wine Auction (now known as Auction Napa Valley). Bailey is opening the bottle on New Year's Eve at his home in Portsmouth, N.H. (He resides in Paris most of the year.) "We already have 55 to 60 people who've RSVP'd," said Bailey, who admitted that the guest list is already getting a bit too long. However, he promised that "everyone who wants a sip will get one. But I'll make sure I get a full glass," he said. "I'm gonna be a little stingy on that front." Can't say we blame him. The guy did pay a half-million bucks for one bottle of wine. Unfiltered can't help but applaud him for sharing.
|Amy Sedaris offers tips on everything but wine ... and we're thankful for that.|
• Having successfully taken on The Terminator and The Hulk, faced down Armageddon and battled Aliens, film producer Gale Anne Hurd is now accepting perhaps her toughest challenge yet: owning and operating a restaurant. Hurd and partner Mike Farwell have just opened Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena, Calif., but the producer, perhaps hedging her bets, assured Unfiltered that she's not planning to leave show business behind. "With a film, there are many ancillary markets in which to recoup your investment … restaurants, on the other hand, don't have an afterlife, and can't be rediscovered and appreciated years later. A cult film can build a new audience long after its theatrical release, but at that point, a failed restaurant is just a memory." Especially if an unstoppable cyborg from the future or an emotionally volatile green brute decided to stage a battle in your dining room.
• Lambrusco for Labradors and prosecco for poodles can't be too far into the future. Napa couple Jamie and Kevin Miller have created a nonalcoholic beer for dogs called Happy Tail Ale. The story goes that their Akita Kodi was always asking--as dogs do--for some beer. They thought about what to get Kodi for his birthday one year, and came up with this strange brew of malted barley, glucosamine, natural beef flavor and vitamins. The beer is now made by Indian Wells Brewing in Southern California, in quantities of about 200 cases a year. If that isn't enough of a sign that there could be a wholesale change of Napa's biggest industry in the works, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up earlier this year to survey the flood damage to the area, he was said to have picked up a 6-pack of Happy Tail, not a 6-pack of Screaming Eagle. We can already see them changing Copia to the American Center for Food, Wine, the Arts and Dog Beer.
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