• The holidays may be past, but awards season is in full swing, which means Champagne stays on the menu at the Unfiltered pad for at least another month. Unfiltered caught the Golden Globe Awards this past weekend, and our No. 1 red-carpet question is always "Who are you drinking?!" The stars can't hear us asking from our couch, but we know the answer already: It's Moët & Chandon, the official Champagne of the Golden Globes. This year we spotted a tickled George Clooney and Amy Poehler toasting their fabulousness with an adult-size bottle of Moët & Chandon. Sean "P Diddy" Combs, Hugh Jackman, Jon Hamm, Kate Hudson, Jack Black, Steve Buscemi and many others partied with Moët & Chandon Impérial mini-bottles as part of Moët's #Toast4aCause Twitter charity event. Celebrities raised $1,000 each, donated by Moët, by toasting to the charity of their choice with a mini Impérial on the red carpet, and the celebrity to receive the most reTweets of their photo earned an additional $10,000 for their charity. Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was celebrating her 52nd birthday, won the donation for the Heal the Bay charity, which supports efforts to clean Southern California's beaches. In all, more than 130 charities are benefiting from the Moët red-carpet minis campaign, with more than $200,000 in donations raised. Somebody should give them an award.
• Inescapable Australian wine behemoth Casella, maker of Yellow Tail, is facing a financial problem only an exporter could hate: The Australian economy is surging, with the Australian dollar (the "dingo") passing parity against the American dollar (the "extra cheese"). Thus, Casella has had difficulty with increased production costs at home and a still-slack market that won't allow much room for higher retail prices abroad. (The U.S. is where three-quarters of Yellow Tail's production is sold.) According to the Wall Street Journal, Casella took its first loss in two decades in the fiscal year that ended last June, and when you're that big, you fall hard. $32 million hard. (They profited $44 million the previous year.) Now the company is scrambling to secure a renewed loan with lender National Australia Bank Ltd. Though the Chinese market, and the possible development of a new premium line, are bright spots for Casella, the failure to get that loan could mean vineyards or other assets would have to go on the block.
• One of the more prominent estates on Long Island's East End, Wölffer Estate, has returned to full family control this month, four years after the death of founder Christian Wölffer in a New Year's Eve swimming accident. Following ownership by a board of trustees, Wölffer's four children took control over the winery in December; brother and sister Marc and Joey Wölffer then bought out their siblings to complete the transition of the estate to its second generation. "The winery has really come to a great place and been able to carry on our father's legacy, but Marc and I definitely plan to make it our own dream," Joey told Unfiltered. The management team of winemaker Roman Roth and general manager John Nida will stay on "because it's an incredible group of people. What we've been able to do in the past four years since our father's passing is amazing. Sixty-six percent in growth in wine sales," noted Joey.
The 71-acre Wölffer property in Sagaponack, N.Y., in the Hamptons, now makes 24,000 cases a year, specializing in Merlot, Cabernet Franc and late-harvest wines. But the watchword continues to be "expansion." Said Marc, "We really want to take it internationally." The new owners are well positioned to do so: In addition to a sales base in northern Europe (Christian Wölffer hailed from Hamburg) and China, they own vineyards in Spain, where Marc lives, and Argentina. A global lineup drawing from these holdings may be on the table: "We're looking into producing our own wine, absolutely under the Wölffer name." Joey shared a few other goals with Unfiltered: "to bring more cultural venues in—make it a true lifestyle brand." It already promises to be a banner year for the winery, as this is its 25th. For the occasion, Roth has put together five celebratory cuvées, including some adventurous offerings like a botrytized dessert rosé and an Amarone-style red, made from grapes left to dry out before fermentation. He stated the future goal thus: "We will continue to [emphasize] that further to more and more people: That on Long Island you can make rich wines with longevity." All in all, a vision of optimism for the future.
• We have more wine news to report for Pres. Barack Obama's 2013 Inauguration festivities. Preceding the Inaugural Luncheon, the Illinois State Society will host an Inaugural Gala on Saturday at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., where Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be accepting the Outstanding Illinoisan Award. The Gala begins with a toast to First Lady Michelle Obama, and for the second time that toast will be made with the Prairie State's own Cooper's Hawk Blanc de Blancs. From there, the Gala will take guests to a state fair–themed exhibit with popcorn and cotton candy, a country saloon featuring corn dogs, a heartland diner with root-beer floats and, finally, to the Hall of Heroes and the City of Chicago Ballroom, where revelers will dance to the blues sounds of the Jake and Elwood Revue beneath a reproduction of the clock at Marshall Field's.
• Last week we also brought you word of Égalité, a new crémant de Bourgogne supporting marriage equality and LGBTQ charities. It turns out Égalité isn't alone: The owners of Stand Tall Wine Co. reached out to Unfiltered to let us know about their own LGBTQ-friendly Willamette Valley Pinot Noir made from the Roserock Vineyard in the Eola Hills AVA. "We are a lesbian couple in Napa, who started a wine company that supports causes we stand tall for and believe in," wrote Stand Tall managing partner Larisa Stephenson. "We don’t have millions of dollars, or even own a vineyard. We work full-time jobs, and now we run a wine company in the evenings and on the weekends." Their first cuvée, from the 2010 vintage, is named Genetic. "We chose the name ‘Genetic’ because we believe you are born the way you are and we’re standing tall on this issue," Stephenson wrote. "No one chooses whom they are attracted to, or whom they fall in love with—it’s genetic." The Genetic Pinot Noir 2010, made by Rutherford Grove winemaker Alejandro Alfaro, is available for $40 at StandTallWine.com and 1 percent of total sales are being donated to the Napa LGBTQ Project.
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