Barack Obama Takes Ferrari Italian Fizz for a Spin

Vintner Matteo Lunelli tells Unfiltered about meeting the former president. Plus, Master of None sends Aziz Ansari on a culinary adventure with a "winemaker" friend
Barack Obama Takes Ferrari Italian Fizz for a Spin
Party like it's 2009? (Ferrari Trento Archive)
May 18, 2017

After a few months of post-White House hibernation, President Barack Obama made his first international appearance as POTUS emeritus for a most Unfiltered-approved purpose: to talk and taste food and wine. Obama, an ardent sustainable agriculture advocate, traveled to Milan earlier this month to deliver the keynote address at the Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit. But before the big speech, the known wine aficionado indulged in an evening of ex-world leader merrymaking with former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi at the historic Palazzo Clerici. Dinner guests toasted with bottles of Ferrari Trentodoc bubbly, paired with dishes from acclaimed restaurant Da Vittorio.

"Very delicious," was 44's personal review of the bubbly to Ferrari president Matteo Lunelli when the two met the following day. Lunelli was over the moon about the presidential seal of approval. "He's a person we admire a lot, so it was a great honor to meet him and get this very nice comment from him," Lunelli told Unfiltered. Perhaps angling to gain a new regular customer, "we also mentioned to him something that we are very proud [of], that all Ferrari estate vineyards are certified organic." According to Lunelli, eco-conscientiousness is part of why Ferrari was tapped for a special place at the table. "People talked a lot on the theme of sustainability, and sustainability is something that we care a lot about."

Master of None Stars Food, Wine, Massimo Bottura and … a "Master" of Wine?

Once upon a time, if you were among a cast of endearing oddballs on a beloved TV comedy, you'd get the gang together at a neighborly Boston pub, a Greenwich Village coffee shop or an Upper West Side diner in Manhattan. But as Netflix hit Master of None makes abundantly clear, Michelin stars and natural wine bars are where the action's at now. Comedian Aziz Ansari plays Dev Shah, a mildly successful actor in constant pursuit of love—and food and wine. In fact, the second season, which debuted this month, opens in Modena, Italy, where we see Dev with best bud Arnold and … chef Massimo Bottura of Michelin three-star Osteria Francescana.

Dev and Arnold (played by Eric Wareheim) sit in a small private room that looks like it's the wine cellar while Bottura himself serves up dishes like "lentils almost better than caviar."

Back in New York, Dev's go-to date-night spot is the Four Horsemen, a natural wine bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, owned by LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy. Wine spoiler alert: Dev turns out to be a "light red" kind of guy. When one date asks him about his wine choice, Dev tells her a story about how the winemaker loves '90s R&B and plays it throughout the vineyards to, in Dev's words, "open up the depth of flavor in the grapes." (He's joking: "I don't know anything about wine. It's from France!")

Jack of all dates …

Throughout the season, Dev also pays visits to Westlight, Andrew Carmellini's bar on the William Vale hotel's rooftop; Carbone, the red-sauce Italian West Village restaurant; PDT (Please Don’t Tell), the trendy East Village speakeasy; and Mediterranean-Italian favorite Il Buco.

Ansari is a real-life gourmand, but what's more, screen pal Wareheim is a real-life aspiring winemaker. He's been collaborating with California winemaker Joel Burt of Domaine Chandon on a new label called Las Jaras, working with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan. A rosé is slated for release this summer and a red this fall. Stay tuned.

Mouthcoating Wine Yields Torsocoating Coats with "Wineleather" Invention

Usually, if Unfiltered is sporting "wearable wine," an accident has occurred. But the idea could take on new meaning with the invention of "wineleather." Architect and designer Gianpiero Tessitore unveiled his new eco-friendly material at the Vinitaly trade fair last month, where curiosity-seekers could lounge on Brunello-hued sofas and poufs upholstered in a substance made from the grape pomace discarded by Italian wineries.

“The breakthrough came in 2014 when I realized that [the] fashion, furniture and leather industries were still missing a green and cruelty-free alternative to traditional animal and synthetic leathers,” Tessitore told Unfiltered via email. Tessitore experimented with grape fibers and, having yielded promising results, he soon made another happy discovery: Italian wineries would give their pomace to Tessitore free of charge.

A pleasantly leathery texture.

“Wineries are very excited about our innovation and are willing to cooperate with us,” Tessitore said. Next up for Tessitore's company, Vegea, is a prototype product reveal in the fall to show off vinous clothes, handbags and other accessories. Will tomorrow's glitterati someday sip and wear Champagne simultaneously? Tessitore's looking into that, too.

Celebrity Chef Chris Cosentino Holds the Offal, Brings On the Good

Chris Cosentino may be best known for his big win on Season 4 of Top Chef Masters and his nose-to-tail-but-mostly-the-weird-organs cookery at San Francisco restaurant Cockscomb, but he's also on a mission to feed hungry kids. In that spirit, Cosentino cooked up the idea for CampoVelo Napa Valley, a series of charity bike rides interspersed with refueling opportunities such as “Pigs, Pizza & Paella” for lunch at Charles Krug winery. The inaugural ride was held April 28–30 to benefit Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry, an annual three-day cycling bonanza that puts toques on bikes to fight hunger. (Cosentino participated in that event this week as well.)

A longtime avid cycler, Cosentino told Unfiltered that a personal highlight of CampoVelo was a surprise visit from Switzerland’s “elder statesman” of mountain biking and Cosentino’s good friend, Thomas Frischknecht.

Jonathan Herre/CampoVelo Napa Valley
Chris Cosentino pulls off a gutsy move.

The CampoVelo welcome dinner at Cosentino’s soon-to-open restaurant Acacia House, in St. Helena, raised $6,500 alone, with Cosentino and chef buddies Bryan Voltaggio and Jeff Mahin in the kitchen. For those who want to go next year but can't stomach stomach, not to worry: The chefs stuck to rib eye and sea bass, paired with pours from Schramsberg and Brewer-Clifton.

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