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Jaime Pressly and her Little Black Dress, being overwhelmed by wine is normal, being overwhelmed by wine technology is Italian and a Wente in the Hall of Fame

Posted: March 12, 2008

• We have to admit, when we first heard about a wine called Little Black Dress, our expectations were that the wine would probably taste like one—soaked in Welch's. But it turns out there's more to this little wine than we thought. The 100,000-case label, introduced in 2006 by wine-and-spirits giant Brown-Forman, has been making red-carpet appearances to benefit the Clothes Off Our Back Foundation, which auctions off celebrity dresses and accessories to benefit children's charities. Celebrity attendees of events such as last year's Emmy Awards were able to sign bottles of Little Black Dress or even donate their red-carpet-wear to be auctioned off on the organization's website, clothesoffourback.org. To date, Little Black Dress has helped to raise more than $65,000. Current auction items include a little black dress from My Name Is Earl star Jaime Pressly, as well as bottles signed by the casts of Heroes, ER and CSI: Miami, to name a few. Unfiltered recently tasted the Little Black Dress Chardonnay 2006 ($10) and found it light and refreshing. We give Pressly 90 points for her performance in Not Another Teen Movie and 92 for the TV show.

• Feeling overwhelmed about wine? You're not alone—nearly one-fourth of premium wine consumers are, according to Constellation Wines' ongoing Project Genome study of American wine drinkers. Constellation studied the buying behavior of 10,000 premium wine drinkers—those who spend $5 or more per bottle—over 18 months, and announced the results of the research last week at a press conference in Napa. Information on the first phase of the research, on a much smaller group of consumers, was released in 2005. Previously, it was believed that the overwhelmed folk—those in the bottom group of the six tiers of consumers the study has defined—drank mostly white Zinfandel, but in fact, the group drinks a broad range of wines. It turns out, they're just confused about wine terms and varieties, and don't usually remember what they drank. (Unfiltered often has the same problem, but for different reasons.) But not to worry. Jose Fernandez, CEO of Constellation, the world's largest wine company, was happy to take time to address those overwhelmed about wine and tell them there's nothing to be ashamed of:

• If you find Italian wine confusing or overwhelming, you're definitely not alone. However, the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico Gallo Nero, the governing body of the Chianti Classico wine region in Tuscany, has decided to offer a little assistance. Ever noticed those little pink labels on the necks of Chianti bottles? Each one has a serial number, and if you use your cell phone to send that serial number as an SMS text message to a certain number, you'll receive back a message containing information about the wine. In theory, anyway. Unfiltered ran out to a nearby wine shop and picked up a bottle of Chianti Classico 2005, and gave the system a try, but we couldn't get it to work. Was the Italian guy on the other end who's supposed to send back a note about the wine off taking a smoke break? Possibly. Or maybe we just got ahead of ourselves and the system isn't up and running yet. Either way, Unfiltered would like to hear of your experiences with the system, which is supposed to work on wines from the 2004 vintage on if you text the serial number to (366) 333-3603. And yes, we even tried including the Italian country code. Still no luck. Give it a try and tell us if you got it to work by starting a thread in our forums.

"Will someone hurry up and develop color? Oh, and a pneumatic press."

• Last Friday, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) inducted a host of California wine pioneers into the Vintners Hall of Fame, such as Paul Draper from Ridge, Louis Martini of the Martini Winery, Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills, and Ernest and Julio Gallo, to name a few. Among the honored was also the late Wente Vineyards founder Carl Heinrich Wente, who started Wente Vineyards in 1883 in the Livermore Valley, east of San Francisco. It turns out, Wente sourced and planted Chardonnay cuttings from France that today, according to the winery, account for the lion's share of all Chardonnay planted in California. Ever hear of the Wente clone? Well, that's his. Unfiltered congratulates the Wente family and winery, now in their 125th year, but mostly, we just really like this photo of C.H. Wente's grandson Karl and sons Ernest and Herman. Not only does it speak to their great family winemaking legacy, it looks like the sort of photo for which they all had to sit painfully still for about six hours. That has to be pretty difficult with two bottles of wine sitting in front you the whole time.

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