• So how does an NHL franchise keep fans coming back after losing co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to Eastern Conference rivals during the off-season? In hockey-mad Buffalo, N.Y., the Sabres are attempting to ply them with wine. Seeking to distract fans from the absence of Briere, last year's All-Star game MVP, and Drury, a former NHL rookie of the year (Unfiltered fun fact: Drury was also the winning pitcher and MVP for the 1989 Little League World Series champions from Trumbull, Conn.), the Buffalo Sabres have signed up Bully Hill Vineyards in New York's Finger Lakes region to be the team's 2007-08 official winery. Bully Hill has made both a red and a white wine called Hockey Nights, each featuring the Buffalo Sabres logo. The wines are available at retail stores in the Buffalo and Rochester areas for an average price of $9, as well as at HSBC Arena during games. The red is a blend of Chancellor and Rougeon grapes and the white is a Cayuga-based blend with Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc. Unfiltered hasn't tasted the wines, but we were excited to hear that Bully Hill is now also the official winery of the New York Islanders, with a special wine in the works for that team as well. No word yet on official NHL cheeses, but they have to be just around the corner.
|French winemakers obsessed with rugby? Never!|
• Speaking of violent sports and wine, Unfiltered spoke a bit too soon a couple weeks ago when we predicted New Zealand's All Blacks to steamroll France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The French produced a stunning upset, sending the All Blacks home and the French countryside into a frenzy. Among those who had to be especially happy with the win were the winemakers at the Saint Marc cooperative winery in the Southern Rhône Valley. Throughout the tournament, a series of ads on local billboards and in newspapers have featured hefty, red-faced, headband-laden winegrowers romping through their vineyards (in one case, trying to tackle an innocent-looking grape picker). The ads were created to promote the AOC Côtes du Ventoux by offering the chance to win tickets to the World Cup matches held in nearby Marseille. "We are less well-known than our Rhône Valley neighbors so we have to use an original, tongue-in-cheek way of grabbing the spotlight," said the winery's marketing manager Mathieu Pancin. "Co-op winegrowers and rugby players share the same values—self-derision, camaraderie and determination—so it wasn't hard to find volunteers for the photo shoot." Sounds like they'd have even less trouble finding volunteers to take on rival Rhône winemakers in a game of rugby. We'd pay to see that.
|Laughter is the best medicine.|
• A wine named Cleavage Creek with a label featuring two big, round hills with a stream running between them might raise a few eyebrows, but the owner insists it's for a good cause. Budge Brown is a longtime California grape farmer who lost his wife, Arlene, to breast cancer in 2005. To honor her memory, Brown bought the Cleavage Creek Cellars brand, promising to donate 10 percent of gross profits on the wines to various breast-cancer research projects. He recently wrote his first check—$5,000 for the Sutter Breast Cancer Center in Santa Rosa, Calif. Before Brown bought it, Cleavage Creek raised a lot of eyebrows by featuring models on its labels showing plenty of, well, you know. Now, Brown has put photos of breast-cancer survivors on each wine, including Patricia Daly Caruso, mother of TV host Carson Daly. Brown plans to produce 2,000 cases in 2007 from his Napa property and purchased grapes.
|And you think your job stinks sometimes....|
• Giorgio Rivetti, owner of La Spinetta in Barbaresco and Campé della Spinetta in Barolo, has been putting in hours of overtime on his Barolo estate. He's left the tractor in the shed and strapped himself behind a plough and Pippo, his newly acquired horse. Rivetti said that his vineyards needed a boost after up to 15 years without fertilizer and, for the last six months he has been collecting nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous-rich horse manure to plough into his vineyards. "Then I thought, 'Why not do the thing properly?' That's when we bought Pippo." Half Argentinean (on his father's side), Rivetti said he's been around horses all his life. "The first thing my father did after emigrating to Piedmont was to buy horses to work the estate he bought. He thought they were faster and stronger than the oxen generally used at the time. I think he was right." After up to six hours a day trundling up and down his vineyards and the prospect of up to three to four years before he finishes the job on both his estates, Rivetti is starting to feel the effects. "It was killing my back at first," he said, "but it's getting better now. Besides, it's good exercise and I've lost a couple of pounds! It's fun too." So, giddy-up, Pippo! Unfiltered wonders what sort of mileage he's getting out of his horse, but with diesel prices currently running at around $6 a gallon in Italy, Pippo is bound to be less expensive than his John Deere tractor.
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