A Bitter Night for Château d'Yquem
• On April 30, Bordeaux's Château d’Yquem tweeted: “Today, the first cases of 2010 #Yquem are leaving our cellar.” Alas, not all 2010 Yquem left in the usual way. At 3 a.m. this past Monday, an alarm rang at the estate, but the gendarmes speeding down the long gravel drive shortly thereafter were too late. Thieves had broken into the cellars, stolen 380 half-bottles of Château d’Yquem 2010, and disappeared into the Sauternes countryside. Yquem 2010 sells for $375 per half-bottle, making the loot worth $142,500. The wines were labeled, boxed and ready for shipment, though not all the boxes were sealed. The château’s cellars are currently under renovation, but the first-growth insists the construction work is not connected to the crime. “The investigation is under way,” a spokesperson for the Langon police told Unfiltered. Yquem has not had an easy time of late. The 2012 vintage failed the in-house tasting test following a difficult growing season, and CEO Pierre Lurton decided against releasing a 2012 vintage. At present, the barrels are being emptied into vats, in preparation for selling it off in bulk to négociants. And the week before, the local Bordeaux newspaper caught online wine retailer 1855.com, currently under attack for alleged non-delivery of futures orders, proposing to sell Yquem 2012 on futures. No price was given, but the château tweeted: “Reminder for scatterbrains: We are not producing Yquem 2012. Thus it’s useless to try to buy it or sell it.” Or steal it, we might add.
• Now that we’re well into June, it’s time to start spotting the superlatives of the summer. Unfiltered is going to go ahead and give Daft Punk the win for Song of Summer 2013 with “Get Lucky,” and for songwriters, musicians and pretty much everyone who’s anyone, we’ve already confirmed this summer’s hottest accessory as well: It’s your own Moscato. The newest pop star to pop her own sparkling wine brand is singer and actress Christina Milian of NBC’s The Voice, who is now the face of Viva Diva Wines, featuring a line of flavored Moscatos from Piedmont priced at $13 a bottle. Milian joins Nicki Minaj and E-40 among the music industry’s new Moscato movers in the beginning of June alone. Moscato has been a favorite among hip-hop stars since before Cristal went out of fashion, with Kanye West leading the Moscato mania along with Lil' Kim, Drake, Waka Flocka Flame and DJ Khaled to name a few. “I'm so happy to partner up with the Viva Diva family,” Milian told Unfiltered via e-mail. “I am a huge fan and I love that the brand is geared toward fierce and fearless women who have a vigor for life and all that it has to offer!”
• In Italy, prisoners who face conviction times greater than five years might be serving their time on the vine. And thanks to that work program, Tuscany's Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is partnering up with the Italian Ministry of Justice on the Frescobaldi de Gorgona project, which aims to teach prisoners job skills to help them gain employment after serving their sentence. The winery, purchased by the Frescobaldi family, is located on the island of Gorgona in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Fifty prisoners are currently working the 2.5-acre vineyard and learning winemaking techniques under the guidance of the Frescobaldi agronomists and winemakers, including Lamberto Frescobaldi. The first vintage of Gorgona is a white wine blend of Vermentino and Ansonica. The total production is a modest 225 cases, but the U.S. market will be allocated 80 cases through Frescobaldi importer Folio Wine Partners. The remainder of the bottles will be distributed across Italy to restaurants and bars. Any profits made will be invested back into the project, which expands beyond wine into olive oil, cheese, milk and honey production. Plans to grow the project are already being put into place with the purchase of additional vineyards on the island and increasing the housing to accommodate up to 136 prisoners. Frescobaldi told Unfiltered that he has even committed to hiring some of the workers once their debt to society has been paid. With so much wine crime regularly reported here in Unfiltered, it's refreshing to start this new chapter of Wine and Punishment.
• The acrobatic flying wine angels of Aureole, chef Charlie Palmer's Las Vegas restaurant are, let's say, a sight to behold: Ladies of admirable dexterity who swoop up and down the restaurant's four-story wine tower by rope and harness to select the just-right bottle for Sin City dinner. A shame, then, that diners couldn't see them very well in their all-black bodysuits. So Palmer decided it was time for a new look, and after winning a local competition, designer Bunker Hill Bradley was tasked with bringing the new uniforms to life. According to a press release, the outfit is "made from recycled material with a progression of Tuscan sunset colors meant to symbolize various wine hues," and each suit is strung up with 20 feet of LED lights. Throw in a pair of stiletto heels (footwear is irrelevant when in flight, right?) and the angels have a decidedly sci-fi sex appeal factor.
• Elsewhere at the intersection of fashion, design and wine, New Zealand’s Kim Crawford has partnered with designer Martin Kastner of Chicago, who made his name creating serviceware for chef Grant Achatz, to create a new bottle-chilling conversation piece. Kastner’s chain link design features an array of freezable gel-filled capsules that echo the Kim Crawford logo. The sleeve mimics a Chinese finger trap to cling to bottles of most any shape and, after spending a few hours in the freezer, will keep a bottle chilled longer than one would otherwise stay cold sitting out at room temperature. There are just 400 of the limited-edition sleeves available, priced at $149 each, so head to ExperienceKimCrawford.com if you’re just now realizing that you haven’t yet bought a gift for your fashionable, Sauvignon Blanc-loving dad.
• A little late for Father's Day, but a great gift for any Bordeaux lover, consulting enologist and photographer Eric Boissenot's photos from his 2012–13 exhibit at Brane-Cantenac will be auctioned this Monday, along with a few lots of Brane-Cantenac from the second-growth's cellar. The auction will benefit Solidair, an African medical relief program run by Dr. Philippe Chastan. Bids on all of Boissenot's signed, framed photos start at €800, or just over $1,000. Bid forms and all the available lots can be viewed at Brane-Cantenac.com.
• On June 6, dozens of shoppers lined up along New York’s East 23rd Street, just outside the New York City Opera Thrift Shop, for the opportunity to grab deeply discounted vintage fashions from designers such as Bill Blass, Oscar de La Renta and Yves Saint Laurent—and all for a good cause. The Wine Spectator-sponsored charity event, DIVAS Shop for Opera, raised $45,000 this year for the creation and design of costumes for New York City Opera productions at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and New York City Center. With two floors of donated couture for sale, including designer clothing, shoes, bags and housewares, DIVAS was free and open to the public; among those browsing were Vogue international editor at large Hamish Bowles as well as designers Marcia Sherrill, Roland Nivelais and Stephanie Newhouse. The next installment of the event, DIVAS at Home, will be held in New York in November, and will feature a collection of furniture and home accessories, as well as books and artwork.