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Andrea Bocelli Hopes His Tuscan Wines Will Sing

Plus, a Sept. 11 Memorial from Burgundy, White House Correspondent wines and Copia's sad last sale

Posted: May 3, 2012

• Good wine and good music have always paired well, as readers of last week's musically-themed column know (the term "good" being subjective, of course). So if Slayer's wine of choice is a big, blood-red California Cabernet, it should come as no surprise that the classical, elegant stylings of tenor Andrea Bocelli would lend themselves to an Old World endeavor. The Bocelli family has owned vineyards in Tuscany since the 19th century, but are just now getting around to producing a commercial wine of their own. Bocelli Family Wines Prosecco and Sangiovese have debuted in a few states and should reach the rest of the country by the end of the summer. The Bocelli Family Wines are priced at around $20, with a starting production of around 20,000 cases. Andrea's brother and business partner, Alberto, will attend to the family wine business while Andrea tours the world, presumably singing its praises.

• More than 10 years later, the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, remain fresh in the hearts of New Yorkers, reminded of them daily by the rising Freedom Tower where the World Trade Center once stood (the Freedom Tower surpassed the Empire State Building this week as the city's tallest). Often lost in the scale and aftermath of those events was the destruction of one of New York's finest wine cellars, at Windows on the World, but we learned this week that some friends of New York in Burgundy have made a generous gift that will memorialize the restaurant as a permanent piece of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Patrons of the former restaurant will remember the 2,000-square-foot carpet at the Windows on the World entrance, but few knew that it was created by craftsmen in Burgundy, at the Manufacture de Moroges. In autumn 2009, Philippe and Catherine Pascal, of Givry's Cellier aux Moines, were visiting with factory owner Pierre-Louis Juillet when they stumbled across the designs for the original carpet. The Pascals, who called New York home in the 1980s and whose daughters both live here, were inspired, and asked Juillet if he could create a replica of the carpet to be donated to the Memorial Museum. The scaled down 160-square-foot tribute features the lower Manhattan map design familiar to the original, and is shaped like a wineglass. The carpet hung outside the Cellier aux Moines before being shipped to New York, "to soak up the history and sunshine of Burgundy," a winery representative said.

• It was a sad day at Unfiltered when we learned the White House was no longer volunteering the wine lists for state dinners. The White House Correspondents' Association dinner, however, held April 28 and headlined this year by Jimmy Kimmel, is still fair game. Our spy reports that the annual Washington backslap-a-thon was serving Estancia Cabernet and Chardonnay to Pres. Obama and the WHCA members. If the value-priced Estancia brand weren't reason enough to silence the extravagance police, proceeds from the dinner went toward scholarships for aspiring journalists. The weekend of philanthropic hobnobbing didn't end there for Estancia. The following night, the winery sponsored the Bent on Learning Spring Fling at Indochine restaurant in New York. Russell Simmons was among the celebrities on hand to raise money for Bent on Learning, which supports yoga programs in public schools. Simmons was outbid in an auction of five unique designer yoga mats that raised more than $20,000 for the cause.

• Napa said goodbye again to Copia last month, as the former center for wine, food and the arts in downtown Napa held a public sale and auction to try to liquidate what remained of the center to pay off its massive debts. It reportedly raised about $350,000 (versus their $70 million debt). The liquidating started with a half-off sale of the remaining items in the gift shop, but shoppers were impatient, with only a couple registers ringing up orders for the 100-plus crowded into the store. Unfiltered was in the thick of it, looking for a birthday gift, and overheard some locals snarkily comment that the sale was run just as Copia had been—badly. Some waited an hour or longer to make their purchase, others just walked away. (By the way, you’re not getting that cutting board you wanted. Sorry.) The following week, there were two auctions and a public preview of the auction lots beforehand. The preview was eerie and sad, as people wandered around the deconstructed Copia. Some potential bidders snapped pictures and took measurements of some of the lots, while locals walked around the exhibits, taking them in one last time. The items up for grabs ranged from furniture and commercial equipment to wine, art and even an original Easy Bake Oven. The auction's top lot was a painting of Robert Mondavi, which went for $9,000, a bittersweet tribute to the man whose vision was being dismantled.

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