LeBron Goes for Two Lafite Vintages; Taittinger Fills World Cup as the Beautiful Game Comes to Champagne

French football phenom Kylian Mbappé passed James a bottle of birth-vintage first-growth

LeBron Goes for Two Lafite Vintages; Taittinger Fills World Cup as the Beautiful Game Comes to Champagne
A decision for LeBron that went over well (Seth Wenig/AP Photo / Instagram/@kingjames)
Jun 19, 2019

Château Lafite Rothschild has been the "king's wine" since the days of Louis XV, and the latest royal spotted filling his chalice with it is none other than King James.

During LeBron's eight consecutive years as an NBA championship contender, he tended to favor the vinous equivalent—that is, Wine Spectator Wine of the Year trophy custodians like Sassicaia and Caymus. But after sitting out the 2019 playoffs, the Laker has lately been signaling an appreciation for the Hall of Famers. And Lafite is elite as they come.

In April, the Cleveland Plain Dealer spotted a @kingjames Instagram story in which the four-time MVP poured a glass of Lafite 2014 with teammate Kyle Kuzma to toast the slain rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle. Then, earlier this week, LeBron got a vinous assist from way downtown—the 16th Arrondissement of Paris, specifically. Paris Saint-Germain forward and 2018 World Cup winner Kylian Mbappé gifted his fellow baller a birth-year bottle of the first-growth, 1984, when the young(er) gun was in town to visit Nike HQ. Lafite CEO Jean-Guillaume Prats called the gesture "a perfect demonstration of the friendship between France and the USA," in an email to Unfiltered.

"1984 was a challenging vintage in Bordeaux where the Cabernet Sauvignon grape shined through in Pauillac, producing wines that are perfectly mature to drink now," added Prats. "Our new chairwoman Saskia de Rothschild has a birth vintage between LeBron James and Kylian Mbappé. It’s a new generation of owners and wine lovers that are taking the reins."

Or, per James' assessment on Instagram, "WOW!!!!!"


Taittinger, Soccer Star Ada Hegerberg, Team Up as World Cup Comes to Champagne

The Champagne region has a long history of dominant women players on the grape field, but it also led the rest of France on the women's soccer pitch. The "Pionnières de Reims," as they came to be called, were a women's squad started in 1968; they battled the French Football Federation to recognize the women's professional game, and after a league was finally created in 1974, these iron ladies of Champagne won five of the first eight championships.

So it's fitting, then, that Reims' Stade Auguste-Delaune is seeing action as one of the official venues for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup—Team USA's somewhat notorious 13-0 dismantling of Thailand last week went down here—and that a Champagne is the official wine of the tournament.

Taittinger has been a partner and sponsor of all FIFA and World Cup activities since 2013, and for this year's tourney, the house is releasing a limited-edition brut with a World Cup label, poured at all the host stadiums. There's also a photo/video campaign, "The Instant when #ShePlays," starring Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg, probably the most famous active player in women's soccer, and definitely, unfortunately, the most famous active player in women's soccer not playing in the World Cup.

Taittinger has been here before, but this year's Cup is especially close to the heart and home. Sibling owners Clovis and Vitalie Taittinger are avid fans and have been in the stands during the tourney. "The World Cup is a very important cultural event and moment," Vitalie told Unfiltered via email. "We really feel at Taittinger that it is our mission to be part of these moments of genuine celebration and emotion."


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