Ultimate Test for French Presidency: Candidate Emmanuel Macron's Blind-Tasting Challenge

Also in Unfiltered, onetime teen sensation Hilary Duff grows up to be a wine lover, blue "wine" gets a legal red light, and a Syrah for a cause
Ultimate Test for French Presidency: Candidate Emmanuel Macron's Blind-Tasting Challenge
Smells like ... victory? (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)
Mar 9, 2017

With the topsy-turvy French presidential race swirling into its final weeks, candidate Emmanuel Macron headed to Bordeaux late last month to talk policy and personal preference regarding the country's most beloved beverage. But Macron would also attempt to prove, in his chat with wine multimedia outlet Terre de Vins, he's got one of the most important qualifications the French look for in a leader (Unfiltered assumes): the ability to identify wine in a blind tasting.

"I adopt the philosophy that [red wine] is an antioxidant," said Macron, explaining that he would ideally have "at least one [glass] at noon and one in the evening" if he were at the Elysées (the French White House). While he's partial to Bordeaux, Macron mentioned having discovered gems from the Southwest, Corsica and Bandol in Provence, clearly appealing to the hipster Millennial demographic (Macron himself is just 39).

The former Minister of the Economy also got more serious on wine policy. Among important issues facing the wine industry, Macron pinpointed the need to fight against pesticides—through both organics and innovation—and loosen the strictures of the controversial Evin law, which prohibits on-screen alcohol advertisements.

The folks at Terre de Vins did not let Macron go before testing his blind-tasting chops as well, however. After some brow furrowing, Macron showed admirable insight on the white and rosé wines, correctly nailing Bordeaux blanc (from Château Lauduc) and Côteaux d'Aix en Provence (from Château Vignelaure). But he made a slight misstep late in the race, misidentifying a 2005 Château Pape-Clément (from Pessac-Léognan in the Graves) as a Pauillac. Good effort, but will voters see it as merely une gaffe or un scandale?

California Wine's the Right Stuff for Hilary Duff

Unfiltered readers of a certain age may remember Hilary Duff as the onetime titular teen klutz in Lizzie McGuire, but Duff has graduated to a more grown-up pursuit: wine. The current star of Younger recently signed on as a brand ambassador for the Callie Collection, a new Constellation project. Unfiltered was in attendance at Tuesday's launch party to sip on Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and a red blend, all from California's Central Coast and priced at $14.

"I'm a big wine drinker; it's definitely my beverage of choice," Duff told Unfiltered (the Pinot Grigio, specifically, is her go-to). "What inspired me [about Callie Collection] was that it's really a love letter to California, so being a California girl, it felt like a perfect fit. This is a really light, easy-drinking wine that's easy to pair with food, so if you're not a wine connoisseur, you don't have to stress about what you're serving."

Courtesy of Callie Collection
Cali girl Hilary Duff drinks Callie Collection Cali wines.

Even wine-sci geeks, apparently: The Callie Collection is the first wine brand to launch nationally in the U.S. with the "Helix" closure, a cork-meets-screwcap mashup that eliminates the need for a corkscrew, and may one day render the great closure debate "so yesterday," as Duff might put it.

Hue and Cry as Spanish Government Gives Red Light to Blue Wine

We’ve seen wines banned due to geopolitical score-settling, but what about a government crackdown on a wine simply based on its … color? Gïk, the Spanish startup company that launched a “blue wine” product back in 2015, was forced the following year by Spanish authorities to remove their blue beverage from store shelves, halt production and eat a hefty fine, according to the company's founders. “The story here is that the Spanish wine lobby tried to push us out of the market to maintain the status quo,” Aritz López, one of Gïk’s creators, told Unfiltered in an email. (The initial complaint was filed anonymously.)

In 2016, Gïk was served with an order to cease operations, which cited regulations on wine production—specifically the authorized wine colors ("tinto," "blanco," etc.), with “azul” nowhere to be found. The verdict was black and white: "Blue wine cannot be made."

But is it wine?

The beverage itself was a combination of Spanish red and white grapes, and received its complexion from two organic pigments: anthocyanin, a pigment from red grape skin, and indigotine, a food dye. After a production hiatus, Gïk is back: The workaround, for now, is that Gïk makers "changed its composition in order to get back to the market," said López: It is now produced as 99 percent wine and 1 percent grape must, legally lumped into the category “other alcoholic beverages." After the hiccup, Gïk is preparing to launch in the U.S. this year and petitioning the Spanish government to broaden its horizons for the allowable spectrum of vino.

Little Wings Syrah to Benefit Miami's Holtz Children's Hospital

We at Unfiltered love nothing more than when we can bring you news of how wine lovers and the wine industry come together, both in times of joy and loss. In 2009, Jorge Bustamante, a Miami-based advertising manager, joined the WineSpectator.com Forums, a free online bulletin board for wine lovers. Through a side gig in wine distribution, he soon became acquainted with winemaker Ian Brand, who helped him plan a wine-country proposal to his now-wife.

Winemaker Ian Brand, of Le P’tit Paysan and La Marea, made the Little Wings Syrah 2015.

In February 2015, the couple had a daughter, Mikaela, born prematurely at just 24 weeks. "In spite of the efforts of the amazing doctors and staff in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Miami's Holtz Children's Hospital and Mikaela's fighting spirit, our daughter passed away after 11 days," Bustamante told Unfiltered. "It left an incredible void … as well as a yearning to honor and celebrate our daughter's short and beautiful life." Within a few months, inspiration struck. "I got this crazy idea to make a wine in her memory," he said. "I sent Ian this ridiculously long email where I vented about how I was feeling ... and how I wanted to make a wine. Ian simply replied, 'I fully support this project.' And now here we are." Made by Brand, the Little Wings Syrah 2015 comes entirely from the Antle Vineyard in the Central Coast's Chalone AVA. All of the profits—Bustamante says that will add up to about $60 from each $125 three-pack—will go to the NICU program at Holtz Children's Hospital. For more information on Little Wings Syrah, visit LittleWingsWine.com.

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