Chrissy Teigen, Eric Ripert Raise Glasses, $4 Million; Exploding Wine Bottles Attack Missouri

The City Harvest gala and Casa de Loco winery both went off with a bang. Plus, new wine barrel–race record set in Swiss Grand Cru village, and Reims court slams gold-flaked sham Champagne
Chrissy Teigen, Eric Ripert Raise Glasses, $4 Million; Exploding Wine Bottles Attack Missouri
"What's the hashtag again?" Eric Ripert and Chrissy Teigen MC'ed parts of the evening. (Courtesy of City Harvest / Eric Vitale Photography)
May 2, 2019

City Harvest was plentiful Tuesday night in New York, as a gaggle of celebs from red carpets and chef's tables alike roused a crowd at Cipriani in Midtown to raise $4 million for the charity that delivers food to those in need.

This year's iteration of the annual fundraising fête was hosted by pop-culture icons/professional foodies Chrissy Teigen and Antoni Porowski, both members of the City Harvest Food Council. Guests included many names that frequent Unfiltered's dream dinner parties, including chefs and somms Eric Ripert, Elizabeth Falkner, Aldo Sohm, Ted Allen, Alfred Portale, Angie Mar and Geoffrey Zakarian. Multihyphenate threat Darren Criss, of Glee (and American Crime Story) fame, performed.

Courtesy of City Harvest / Eric Vitale Photography
Darren Criss kicked out some jams.

One of the evening's highlights was the live auction, which raised more than $1.5 million for the charity. Bringing in $1 million of that was Ripert’s lot, which offered a dinner in the winner's home prepared by the Le Bernardin chef himself, and including performances by Yo-Yo Ma and singer-vintner John Legend, with the promise of Teigen and Richard Gere (one of the evening's honorees) also attending the private soiree. (Model/jokester/cookbook author Teigen and courtly toque Ripert were most recently spotted odd-coupling in the pages of Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2019 issue, where the Michelin 3-star chef wrote a tribute to his pal, who'd made the list.)

Another popular lot, offered by chef Michael White, owner of hot Manhattan addresses Marea, Vaucluse and Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Ai Fiori, included a lavish dinner for 20 guests.

Moët Hennessy USA, which began its partnership with City Harvest in 2018, also showed up and glowed up, providing libations for the thirsty fundraisers: Each table was decked out with custom-bedazzled bottles of Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne and Volcan Cristalino Tequila.

When all was said and done, the gala had raised $4.1 million—enough money, City Harvest reps said, to provide more than 14 million meals for hungry New Yorkers.

Extremely Missouri Winery 'Casa de Loco' Unleashes Dangerous Exploding Bottles, Billy Ray Cyrus Concert

The storyline of the wild, wild Midwest of Missouri wine spilled out of the wrestling ring this week and over to Lake Ozark. In a heel move worthy of Niles Plonk himself, a winery that goes by the stage and actual name Casa de Loco has been accused by state officials of releasing a batch of bottles prone to exploding on store shelves.

The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control put out a press release last week warning consumers that the company's six most loco wines—a range of styles, but none sparkling, surprisingly—"may pose a danger of exploding and should be immediately secured to prevent injury." The wines and other extreme fermented/still-fermenting beverages specifically called out include "Applesauced" (44-proof "apple wineshine") and "Coming in Hott" (two t's, flames on label); one exploded after the ATC confiscated it, and other ruptures and leakages have since been reported at area retailers.

Missouri Department of Public Safety
Would you trust this man-apple?

"Casa de Loco never submitted these wines to ATC for product brand registration, which includes review and product evaluation, as required by Missouri law," the release stated. (The only rule of Casa de Loco is there are no rules!!) Because Casa de Loco doesn't do half-measures, the winery is also under investigation by the state Department of Health for "potential health and sanitation violations" at its Eldon, Mo., winery.

To its credit, Casa de Loco's response has been a masterclass in Ozarks crisis PR management. Step 1: Remove defective product from retail shelves. Step 2: Billy Ray Cyrus. The winery got out ahead of the ATC with an announcement that they'd booked the country star to come play Lake Ozark June 1—evidently in spite of Cyrus' famous distress surrounding all situations achy and breaky. It's not just errant shards of appleshine glass out here popping off, folks.

Champagne for My Real Friends, and Real Pain for Sham 'Champagne' from the Court of Reims

Meanwhile, slightly less explosive allegations out of the Champagne region of France, where a winery was hit with accusations of making "'shine" that's a little more Miley Cyrus than Billy Ray: Champagne mixed with gold-flake glitter.

While Americans love our fusion drinks, the Tribunal of Reims was less amused—the Champenoise famously hate knock-off attempts to cash in on their brand—according to local paper L'Union Abbonés. Not only is a wine product full of metal chips not permitted to be labeled "Champagne," but the court determined that the stuff wasn't even really gold-infused. All that glitters is not gold, as they say, but rather in this case, as L'Union with an assist from Google Translate described it, "vulgar confetti food packaging." Truly a bubble burst for anyone who thought any part of this was a good look.

New Wine Barrel–Race Record Set in Swiss Grand Cru Village

It's no secret that we at Unfiltered always roll with barrels. So news of the recent Barrique-Rennen ("barrel race") held last weekend in the Swiss wine village of Salgesch certainly topped up our interest. The rules of the game are simple: Teams of two run while pushing a wine barrel through a short road course. The fastest team wins, another team gets a prize for zaniest costume, and everyone in town takes a drink whenever anything does or doesn't happen. European winemakers love a fun run.

The genesis of the Barrique-Rennen, one of the festivities during the town's annual Weinfrühling (spring wine festival for tasting the most recent vintage), is also exactly what you'd expect. "It was invented by some funny winegrowers during a game at the winery," Jens Grichting, director of the region's winegrower association, told Unfiltered via email. "The winegrowers found the game so funny that they wanted to make it possible for the visitors to participate." So funny, indeed, that no fewer than 32 teams and their barrels lined up at the starting blocks in the 14th year of the race.

The Salgesch region, in the Valais AOC, is Pinot Noir country, home to one of the Switzerland's few designated Grands Crus, for which wines must meet strict tasting and lengthy aging requirements.

But winemakers can turn a barrel around pretty quick, too: Local heroes Vanessa Ianchello and Alice Lehner from the winery Albert Mathier & Söhne set a track record of 39.14 seconds in the qualifying round, though they ultimately fell to an away team in the finals.

Courtesy of Weinfrühling Salgesch
Wine barrel–racing in tutus on ice skates joins a proud tradition of Swiss japes including cheese soup and Alpine yelling.

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