• While Moët was the official “golden” Champagne of this past weekend’s Golden Globes awards ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Australia’s Black Swan wines were the official libation of the Fox after party held on the hotel’s roof. Winner of the Best Actress award for her role in Black Swan, Natalie Portman was one of the star attendees, although she abstained from the Black Swan Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz that were on hand (she is expecting a child in the near future). Also in attendance were her fiancé, Black Swan and New York City Ballet choreographer Benjamin Millepied, as well as Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Love Hewitt and the cast of Fox’s hit musical sitcom Glee. And no, the Black Swan wine label wasn’t just created to capitalize on the hit film; real, live black swans are indigenous to Australia. Getting into the groan-inducing spirit of comedian Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes opening monologue, Black Swan winery marketing manager Shankar Swamy said in a press release that being the official sponsor of the Fox party “is a real feather in our cap … a black swan feather that is.”
• Stanley Cheng, owner of Napa Valley’s Hestan Wines, got some welcome news recently: One of his wines was served at a private dinner on Tuesday at the White House, as the Obamas hosted China’s President Hu Jintao, Hillary Clinton and a few other high-ranking officials. The White House poured Hestan Chardonnay 2007. "We're just thrilled," said Cheng, who wasn't sure how the White House had come to a decision on the wine. "It's a wonderful surprise." The Hong Kong-born Cheng, who is also the CEO of Meyer Corp., an innovator in non-stick cookware, has high hopes for what this could symbolize. "Right now in China, what's in demand is really expensive French wines, like Château Lafite," Cheng said. "What I hope is that President Hu's visit will bring more interest to high-quality American wines. It's wishful thinking I know, but I hope this will be the change." At the official state dinner, held last night, Hu was treated to an all-American dinner of pear and goat cheese salad, Maine lobster served with DuMol Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2007, rib-eye and potatoes with Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2005 and apple pie à la mode with Poet’s Leap Riesling Columbia Valley Botrytis 2008.
Seppelts Winery's St. Peter's Vineyard faces further damage if the waters continue to rise.
• Flood waters continue to rise in Australia today. First Queensland was hard hit, and now Victoria’s wine industry is suffering. Tyson Stelzer, a freelance wine writer and frequent Wine Spectator contributor based in Brisbane, Australia, launched an online Wine Trade Flood Relief Raffle in the wake of requests from wine industry members wanting to help flood victims. According to Stelzer, who said he was just 2 kilometers from houses that were 7 meters underwater, response has been overwhelming. Stelzer wrote, “so many people got behind it on Twitter and Facebook that all I’ve had time to do is follow up dozens of generous offers of support.” Pledges of prize donations from the wine industry have already exceeded AUS$168,000 in value. “It seems the goodwill of the Australian wine industry has more momentum than a billion liters of floodwater,” Stelzer said. Heartwarming responses from wine industry members can be viewed and raffle tickets purchased online at www.clearaboutwine.com.au/wp/index.php/the-australian-wine-trade-flood-relief-raffle/.
• One of Greece’s most famous winemakers took office as mayor of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, this month. Yiannis Boutaris, 69, a native of Thessaloniki, won the position by a narrow margin, becoming the country’s first socialist-backed mayor in 24 years. Boutaris, whose family has been in the wine business for generations, played a major role in guiding the Greek wine industry into the 21st century. Beginning in the 1970s, Boutaris and his brother, Constantine, invested years of research pinpointing the most interesting indigenous grape varieties of Greece and producing wines from them using classic European winemaking techniques. Boutaris said he believes there is a close connection between the grape varieties of a region and its culture as a whole, and that producing wines from local grape varieties “feeds the creative powers of the region’s cultural identity.” To that end, Boutaris’ eldest son, Stellios, said one of the projects on the new mayor’s desktop is enhancing Thessaloniki’s reputation as the food and wine capital of southeastern Europe. Boutaris’ younger son, Harvard-educated Mihalis, said he had high hopes of his father enhancing Thessaloniki’s very cosmopolitan traditions. Will the new mayor’s position do anything for the family’s Kir Yianni Estate wine label? As Stellios pointed out, “Our brand name is in the newspaper every day now!”