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There's a new bad-boy somm coming to the Bronx, at least on TV. AMC's Feed the Beast debuts this Sunday night, starring David Schwimmer as a troubled but talented sommelier and partner in a restaurant beholden to the New York mob. Schwimmer, who waited tables before getting his big break as Friends' Ross, decided to enlist the help of a pro to get into his new role. "As an actor, I didn't want to be doing something that would make me look like an idiot," he told Salon.com. "I wanted those wine experts out there to watch the show and be like, 'Wow, that is a great choice for that dish.'"
Schwimmer reached out to his friend Josh Nadel, wine director for chef Andrew Carmellini's NoHo Hospitality Group and star of the Somm film–inspired TV series Uncorked. "David had a fair amount of rust to shake off," Nadel told Unfiltered, "[but] he enjoys wine, and knows what he likes, which is a huge help." Nadel ran Schwimmer through the wine service basics, "soup to nuts—service, tasting, physical demeanor and mechanics, syntax, pronunciation, how to build and organize a wine cellar, proper stemware—the whole schmear," and Schwimmer found the experience so essential to the authenticity of his role that he had Nadel brought on board as a consultant for the show. Nadel assists the writers with all things wine-related in the scripts, and continues to coach Schwimmer, who he says has been a star pupil. "David needed to become proficient in these areas very quickly," said Nadel. "Not surprisingly, he crushed it." Unfiltered couldn't coax any wine spoilers out of Nadel, but he did allow that the characters of Feed the Beast "are probably drinking some of the best wine ever served in the Bronx!"
French President François Hollande, along with Bordeaux's Mayor Alain Juppé, inaugurated the La Cité du Vin on May 31, heralding the project—a museum, cultural event space and much more, devoted to wine around the world and its history—as “original, singular and unique” and a “success for France.” Standing in the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium before the first wave of VIP guests, Hollande congratulated Sylvie Cazes, president of the Cité’s foundation, for pouring her heart and commitment into the project, rallying resources from around the world.
“This Cité continues the dialogue between Bordeaux and all of the places around the world where there are grapevines,” said Hollande. “A half-million visitors are expected. I think there will be more.” France receives 85 million tourists each year, a third of whom say they come for food and wine.
At her final "grand opening" of the day—there were four separate groups—Cazes emphasized the visionary role of Mayor Juppé, the leadership of managing director Philippe Massol and the massive team effort behind the successful eight-year project. Cazes gave a special nod to American philanthropists, led by George Sape and Bob Wilmers. “It seemed natural for us to support and make our contribution to this wonderful project,” said Wilmers, owner of Château Haut Bailly. Sape elaborated on their vision for the Cité. “It’s like the Davos of the wine world," he told Unfiltered. "The American Friends of the Cité wants to see major cultural and scientific events [here], because there is nothing else like it in the world. We want to support an international conference on wine and health in 2017. Think of the value added,” Sape said. “What excites us about the Cité is it brings people from all over the world together.”
Paris' Tour d’Argent restaurant, a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner, shed some 3,000 pieces of tableware last month in an auction that brought the restaurant $829,270. The funds will aid the restaurant in what CEO and owner André Terrail calls a continual "evolution" to keep the restaurant up to date with luxury dining standards. Almost 1,000 bidders from 18 different countries participated in the auction, which took place in three sessions at the Artcurial auction house headquarters on the Champs-Élysées boulevard.
The hottest item was a silver Christofle duck press, which had previously been used to prepare the restaurant’s most famous dish, Caneton Tour d’Argent, or pressed duck. The press (in used condition), was estimated to sell for $4,300 to $6,500, and instead sold for $45,828 to a private European collector.
One hundred selections of Cognacs and liquors were hotly contested. Three bottles of 1788 Clos du Griffier Cognac, the oldest pieces in Tour d’Argent’s wine cellar, each sold in the range of $26,676 to $29,640. More than 2,400 Riedel wineglasses were sold—relics of the eighties, when the restaurant’s wine director, David Ridgway, made it a point to collect close to 25 different models. A set of six Riedel Pauillac wineglasses went for $2,850, more than 25 times its estimate.
Bidders scrambled for the remaining historic tableware, from silver goblets to cufflinks to antique furniture, but the auction may not be the last chance to own a piece of the restaurant's past. “Originally I thought there was absolutely no possibility of this ever happening again,” Terrail told Unfiltered. “But in 10 years, who knows? The standards of luxury today are so different.”