Winter is a threat in Westeros, but in Finland they've pretty well learned to have fun with it. Enter the Game of Thrones–themed igloo-hotel-restaurant, a production of Lapland Hotels SnowVillage in partnership with HBO Nordic. The Ice Restaurant, Ice Bar and 30 suites—sculpted from around 44 million pounds of snow and 772,000 pounds of ice—are decked out with GoT swag like a life-sized Iron Throne, a Hall of Faces, a White Walker and a big ol' dragon chilling behind the bar, all chiseled from solid H2O.
Naturally, Unfiltered wanted to know what's on the drinks list. "Take the Black Muscat"? "Valar Mourvèdris"? "A Lannister Always Kabinett"? "Dornish wine," at least? We obtained a copy of the menu and, alas, not quite, but points for including such selections that sound Westerosi, like Wolfberger Riesling, Ironstone Old Vine Zin, 5 Elementos Portuguese white and red, and Strongbow cider. The SnowVillage, which is kept at a balmy 25° to 28° F, is open until it melts (maybe April).
Hear ye, hear ye! On May 19, fifth-runner to the crown of dominion over the United Kingdom and also Canada Prince Harry of Wales will wed American actress/activist Meghan Markle. In typical royal fashion, plans for the big day are being kept largely under wraps, but that hasn't stopped us commoners from speculating on the details. Primarily: Who will provide the royal libations?
Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported rumors that the couple has chosen England's own Chapel Down Winery for the affair—the same winery Prince William and Kate Middleton were believed to tap for their 2011 nuptials. The still and sparkling wine producer has kept mum, but peasants would be chuffed by the choice: With bottlings starting at around $18, the Kent winery makes it easy to drink like kings.
As for the reception, Will and Kate drank French. A menu—rumored to have been smuggled out by an enterprising guest who was swiftly beheaded at the Tower of London—revealed white Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne. Markle is from California, though, so perhaps the royals will welcome her to the clan with some Yankee Cabernet or Chardonnay. A known wine lover, Markle even named her (now defunct) lifestyle blog The Tig after a certain super Tuscan.
What sparklers will pop to celebrate the matrimony? Many anglophiles have placed their bets (literally, people bet on this stuff) on British fizz—either from Chapel Down or the Queen's very own Windsor Park. However, Darren McGrady, a former chef to the royals, told the blog PureWow that the Windsors favor Veuve Clicquot, though eight Champagne houses hold royal warrants to supply the family. (Charles and Diana poured Bollinger; Will and Kate reportedly served Pol Roger.)
But a new twist emerged this week that introduces the possibility of a different direction altogether: the announcement of another royal engagement, that of Harry's cousin Princess Eugenie of York—to a bloke in the wine and spirits biz. Jack Brooksbank is described in the British press as a "wine merchant," though this is a recent departure from his role managing a nightclub, which isn't really on the list of accepted occupations for royalty. Brooksbank is also a brand ambassador for Casamigos Tequila, the brand launched by George Clooney and some friends, picked up by Diageo last year. Jack could provide the hookup for Harry and Meghan's CasamigosTM Royal Reception Rager.
Taittinger and Illinois (?) Wine at SAG Awards; Unfiltered Drinks Century-Old Madeira at Oscars Nom Watch Party, at 8 a.m., at Movie Theater with In-House Sommelier
We're only a few weeks into Hollywood's most glamorous season of the year and Unfiltered is already seeing stars. The Golden Globes kicked off awards season with its usual showing of Moët & Chandon earlier in the month, and this week, Tinseltown followed up with another Champagne-soaked celebration, the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Reprising its role as longtime Champagne of the awards show, Taittinger opened the red carpet festivities with a toast led this year by Vitalie Taittinger and GLOW actress Betty Gilpin. Taittinger pledged to gavel off two Methuselahs, signed by the likes of Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez and Sterling K. Brown as they arrived at the soiree, to benefit the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, which supports actors and their families in times of need.
Playing costar to the Champagne house was Hollywood newcomer Cooper's Hawk, a nationwide winery and restaurant group based in Illinois. "Some of the people that we spent a lot of time with were … Steve Carell, Willem Dafoe, the cast from This Is Us," the winery's CEO Tim McEnery told Unfiltered. "There were so many people, it was so cool. And they couldn't have been more kind and fun to spend time with. We are very proud to be part of it."
It's not often that Unfiltered gets to be more than, well, a spectator to these shindigs, but on Tuesday, we joined the pomp and circumstance, heading to New York's luxury iPic movie theater to catch an early-morning Oscar nominations watch party and get a first glimpse of the special-edition "2018 Oscars" bottle design of that show's Champagne sponsor, Piper-Heidsieck. The magnum is decked out in a fancy gold "old Hollywood" Art Deco design to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the awards.
Also celebrating a 90-something milestone was the 1927 D'Oliveiras Bastardo Madeira that Unfiltered got to sample during the breakfast extravaganza; we'd like to thank the
Academy theater's resident sommelier, Adam Seger. Is this what the A-list life feels like?
The Santa Barbara mudslides two weeks ago starved some businesses in the California Central Coast corridor, but outright decimated others. In its wake, barber Richie Ramirez and winemaker Jamie Slone needed to get creative. The result? Richie’s Pop Up Barbershop has popped up in the private reserve tasting room of Jamie Slone Wines in downtown Santa Barbara.
Ramirez, owner of popular Richie’s Barber Shop in Montecito, had been forced to close shop indefinitely after the river of mud and debris came flowing down from the hills above the town into Montecito’s main street; Ramirez’s insurance carrier denied payment of claims because his policy didn’t cover mudslides and flooding. Slone, meanwhile, along with owners of a host of other small wineries and tasting rooms on Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail, was hurting for business as a result of the Highway 101 closure that cut Santa Barbara off from Los Angeles and Ventura County. When Slone learned of Richie’s plight, he offered the barber space inside his tasting room, and within days, Ramirez and company had moved in three barber chairs and set up shop. Business is back to booming for both, and officials are hoping to reopen downtown Montecito sometime in early February.
Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.