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Unfiltered

The Jefferson bottle saga on the silver screen, a seriously dumb wine theft, your chance to change the world of food and wine, a song for Sonoma and a museum you'll probably never visit

Posted: February 6, 2008

• Remember when nobody made movies about wine? Now Hollywood can't seem to get enough of them. This week, a team of Hollywood producers—including superstar Will Smith—optioned the screen rights to The Billionaire's Vinegar, an upcoming Benjamin Wallace book about publisher Christopher Forbes' purchase of the supposed Jefferson Bordeaux (the collection of bottles sold by German dealer Hardy Rodenstock, who claims the wines are 18th century Bordeaux, possibly ordered for Thomas Jefferson). Energy billionaire Bill Koch bought four of the bottles for $500,000 and then spent over $1 million investigating their authenticity after a museum questioned it. Convinced they were fakes, Koch's been suing Rodenstock in federal court. But Smith's movie isn't the first project related to the Jefferson Bordeaux. HBO Films recently optioned a New Yorker article about Koch's investigation. So just as we'll have two movies about the 1976 Paris Tasting, maybe we'll have two movies about the Jefferson Bordeaux. At this rate, it won't be long before we get two movies about Unfiltered.

• It may be time to revive the TV series America's Dumbest Criminals with a Napa edition. As reported in the Napa Register and Santa Rosa Press Democrat last week, warrants were issued for three 20-something former employees of Jackson Family Wines, makers of Kendall-Jackson wines, among others. The three (purported) thieves are being charged with embezzling nearly $200,000 of high-end Jackson Family Wines including Vérité and Lokoya. The ringleader of the group is accused of altering company computer records to falsely report that shipments of wine had been "lost" or were marked as returns. They would then sell the wine or, on some occasions, trade them for tickets to sporting events. Clever enough so far. Clearly drunk with greed, the trio started offering hundreds of cases of high-end wines through various online wine distributors and eBay. Before they had been released. For half price. It didn't take long for a Jackson Family executive to spot the dubious deals and launch an internal investigation. Of course, what with the ongoing criminal proceedings, Jess Jackson was unavailable for comment. Unfiltered, in the meantime, realizing just how dumb some criminals are, is spending the rest of the day trying to find our junior-high lunch money for sale on eBay. Hopefully at half price.

• Want to make a quick $6,000 and hit the road? No problem. All you have to do is promise to try and change the world in some way that involves food or drink. Not so hard, right? If you think you're up to the task, the trustees of the Geoffrey Roberts Award, run from the UK, are now taking submissions from applicants who have ideas for improving something, anything, anywhere in the world of food or beverage. For example, last year's winner, a Florida teacher, used the money to travel around America and teach people about endangered North American foodstuffs. The runner-up in 2005 went to India to help improve understanding of the fast-emerging wine market there. So the sky's the limit. Go to geoffreyrobertsaward.com to learn more about the award and how to apply. Just make sure you've got a great idea, since one of the trustees you'll have to impress is wine critic Jancis Robinson. No pressure …

• Songwriter Darren Keith recently gave Unfiltered pause to think: What rhymes with the words "French Laundry"? Perhaps, "I'm in a quandary," but not much else, so a little creative liberty is acceptable. Keith, a Philadelphia-based troubadour, sent us lyrics to a song he penned entitled "Sonoma," in which he sets every songwriter's favorite trope—the heartbreak—against the glossy backdrop of California wine country. "Remember the drives down Route 29 to try to get a table at the French Laundry? / All those memories have been aging like the vintage we got down on Napa Street," he sings. While technically, he's right, one would have to eventually drive down Route 29 to get to the restaurant, the French Laundry is in Napa, not Sonoma. He could have rhymed Sonoma restaurants to Sonoma landmarks like Cyrus to Iron Horse or Dry Creek Kitchen to Sonoma Mission. OK, on second thought, we'd better leave the songwriting to the professionals. Check out the rhymes for yourself in any Starbucks, where Keith's CD is on rotation. Got any better Sonoma rhyming suggestions? E-mail us at letters@winespectator.com.

• Bordeaux newspaper Sud Ouest has reported that a new négociant museum will be opening in Bordeaux. Unfiltered suggests that while they're at it, they open a liquor wholesaler museum in D.C. The statue out front can be a wholesaler writing a campaign-contribution check.

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