• One-time world No. 1 tennis star Jim Courier practiced what was, for him, a new type of serve this week at Geoffrey Zakarian's Country restaurant in New York. Courier served up Wolf Blass Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet, among others, to commemorate the winery's partnership with the U.S. Open Tennis Series. Wolf Blass wines will be poured at four of the Association of Tennis Professionals' tournaments that lead up to the U.S. Open. Courier, who twice won the Australian Open, said that he found an affinity for Australian wines while on tour. He also expressed the hope that, as American tennis fans are more likely to be wine drinkers than fans of any other sport (save for golf), the alliance would bring more attention to Courier's Kids, a charity he founded in 2004 to fund inner-city youth tennis and education programs. Wolf Blass chief winemaker Chris Hatcher was also on hand, helping Courier with tasting notes and providing a bit more expertise when it came to discussing the actual winemaking. Courier was candid about his lack of experience when it came to describing the wines, and Unfiltered thought he was a good sport when introducing a few guests to the first flight of the day. "We're drinking a crisp, dry 2006 Riesling," he said, adding, "I know that because the winemaker just told me."
|Next up: hip-hop style gold-tooth "grills" to benefit the homeless.|
|Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (pictured here with her husband Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais) opened her doors--and her 1961 Mouton--to a crowd of international journalists and winemakers.|
• Of course, the big dinner is when rival producers and rival wine journalists all pretend to like each other—for a little while, anyway. One Médoc producer, when asked what this year's growing season looks like, said, "We're about two weeks behind," a state of affairs attributed to the rains that have hit the region for the past several days. Immediately after, however, when Unfiltered asked one of that producer's neighbors about the grapes' development, he responded, "Whoever told you that [we're two weeks behind] clearly hasn't been in the vineyard in a while. We're right on schedule." Ouch. From now on maybe we should stick with the easy questions, like, "Less filling, or tastes great?"
• While it's easy at Vinexpo to get caught up in the glamour and prestige of the famous châteaus, or the energy and excitement of the New World wineries, what do you do if you're a young and energetic winemaker in an old region? Give it a breath of fresh air. St.-Emilion winemaker Thibault Despagne, 34, rounded up several other young winemakers—he's the oldest of the group, actually—from across Bordeaux to pool 10 to 18 liters of wine each, then asked renowned consultant Michel Rolland (whose daughter was among those to contribute wine) to make them a cross-appellation, general Bordeaux blend called Bordeaux Oxygene, or BO2 for short. The components, all from the 2005 vintage, come from Pomerol, Pessac-Léognan, Haut-Médoc, St.-Emilion and other appellations, and were bottled in 75 double magnums, which will soon be auctioned off for charity. "We're all friends," said Despagne of his partner winemakers. "We want to show Bordeaux isn't all old, dusty people in châteaus." What's next on his to-do list? Selling the French on baseball? Brokering peace in the Middle East? Seriously, though, Unfiltered toasts Despagne for a thoughtful idea. Let's just hope that he and all his partner winemakers remain friendlier than those unnamed rivals in the Médoc.
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