• California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest on-screen role probably won't win him a Golden Globe, but it should help the Golden State in the race to attract tourists. The Governator and First Lady Maria Shriver are part of a new "Land of Wine and Food" ad campaign, co-sponsored by the Wine Institute and the California Travel and Tourism Commission, aimed at promoting California as a prime destination for wining and dining. The campaign, launched today, with the TV commercial starting its run next week, also features a handful of vintners and culinary celebrities such as Bill Harlan of Harlan Estate, Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards, Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Douglas Keane of Cyrus. Somewhat predictably, the Governator ends the commercial by saying of California, "You'll be back." Fair enough, but how about a little incentive, such as buy one tasting menu at the French Laundry, get one free? Write it into the new state budget, and we'd definitely be back.
• Ah, blue laws. The charming idiosyncrasies of living in a post-Prohibition nation. Virginians were recently surprised to discover that most of their Spanish restaurants were breaking the law by serving sangria. In late 2006, state alcohol beverage control agents fined an Alexandria, Va., restaurant $2,000 for serving the classic Spanish treat, usually made by mixing red wine, brandy and fruit. It turns out that a 1934 state law forbids mixing wine or beer with spirits. When word got out, restaurants were forced to nix the brandy, leading to angry customers (and irate Flamenco dancers, we suspect). Now the owners of the fined restaurant, La Tasca, are appealing, and state delegate Adam Ebbin has introduced a bill to amend the law. But Unfiltered's crack legislative-analysis team has uncovered a problem in Ebbin's bill—it would only allow sangria. Other mixes of wine or beer and spirits would still be forbidden. That means no Champagne cocktails (Unfiltered is partial to the French 75) and no boilermakers (a shot of booze dropped in a mug of beer, several of which led to Unfiltered's unfortunate tattoo). Virginia voters, it's time to march on Richmond!
|Tom Brady's fans read Wine Spectator...which makes us like them only a little bit.|
• Unfiltered isn't quite sold on the research behind a recent article published by the Boston Herald, apparently based on data collected by the Nielsen Co. The marketing data claims that while New England Patriots fans prefer Amstel Light while tailgating out of their Lexus SUV, they also enjoy reading Wine Spectator at their country club. New York Giants fans, on the other hand, drink Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada while tailgating out of their Land Rover SUVs, that is, when they aren't playing tennis. Sounds like six of one and a half-dozen of another to us (and all of them apparently watching from a luxury suite), but we conducted our own informal survey of Giants fans in Wine Spectator's New York office. Turns out all Giants fans read Wine Spectator. Unfiltered was unable to locate any Patriots fans.
• Locals in Napa were seeing a bit of blue recently: Former President Bill Clinton made an appearance in Napa on Jan. 16 while promoting his wife Hillary's campaign for his old job. Clinton's first stop in the valley was at the Hall Winery in Rutherford for a fund-raiser lunch with proprietors Kathryn and Craig Hall (Kathryn served as the U.S. ambassador to Austria during Clinton's second term). According to a Hall spokesperson, the relatively small, $2,300-a-plate fund-raiser was attended by less than 50 people and included some members of the Napa wine industry. A few hours later, Clinton made his way to the Napa Valley Opera House, where he spoke before a packed audience on such issues as foreign policy, education and healthcare. Unfiltered is pretty impressed, since work is the last thing we'd expect any husband to do in a place like Napa when the wife isn't traveling with him.
|On the rocks or down the drain?|
• A British supermarket has introduced a strange new wine in the run up to Valentine's Day: a fortified rosé. Pink Port hit the shelves this week at Marks & Spencer, the up-market grocer and retailer, priced at about $14 for a 500ml bottle. The wine is made from the same grapes used in regular Port, but with less contact to the skins in order to get that pinkish hue. The wine was developed after rosés from other regions experienced a sales surge in recent years, but was also meant to shake up traditional views of Port. "Some people wrongly think Port is the preserve of men," said Marks & Spencer Port specialist Sue Daniels, "but we have created a drink which will appeal to women because it is light and flavorsome, and we expect it to be as popular on a summer's day as it will be in the middle of winter." An added benefit, the company said, is that women won't feel they have to leave the room when the Port is served. Actually, we think they were leaving the room all this time since even Port wasn't a good enough excuse for women to hang around a bunch of drunken British men, so we're not sure this will help.
• It seems like it's better to think twice before buying a bottle of premium wine at a giveaway price. Late last year, French customs officers made a surprise find at a farmhouse on the outskirts of Bordeaux, where they discovered a wine counterfeiting setup. The one-man operation was passing off bottles of generic Bordeaux as Pomerol and St.-Estephe wines. "The apprehended suspect had been switching the labels of the wine with homemade ones, of châteaus that don't even exist," explained Bordeaux customs office director Hugues Galy. "We come across this type of thing a couple times a year," he added. The counterfeiter had purchased a total of 10,000 bottles for $3 each and, following the switcheroo, the wines were sold under the table to area businesses for around $14 each. Unfiltered gives the counterfeiter at least a little credit for his craftiness unless, of course, among the made-up names he was using was Château Plonk.
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