Oracle Team USA Flips for Penfolds

Plus, a car race in France takes a vineyard detour, the Buffalo Bills partner with an upstate wine distributor, and controversy for post-season MLB bubbly popping
Oct 18, 2012

• Team Oracle USA won the America's Cup in 2010, and they've been testing out their 72-foot catamaran in San Francisco Bay this month. It's the site of next year's America's Cup race, and the team announced earlier this month that Penfolds had been made Oracle's official team wine, to be poured at various events leading up to next September's Cup race. Oracle's skipper, Jimmy Spithill, hails from Australia, and he was keen on the pairing. "Penfolds is one of the most trusted names in fine wine, and it just happens to come from my home country of Australia," Spithill said in a press release. "I have long enjoyed Penfolds, and I am proud we are partnering with such an iconic winery." Team Oracle made news again earlier this week, though not the way it would like. The multihull wing-sail yacht pitch-poled in San Francisco Bay, capsizing with a crew of 11. "Everyone is safe and sound, and we got the boat and its components back to shore," Spithill said. "Now we have to learn from it." Hopefully, there will be a few bottles of Penfolds on hand to ease the learning.

• As far as Unfiltered knows, no winegrower has ever gone biodynamic solely out of a hatred for cars, but Alsatian vintner Daniel Wolfer would have plenty of reason to. Earlier this month, during a Rallye de France event, Norwegian car driver Petter Solberg plowed through Wolfer's Gewürztraminer vineyard, skidding off the road and taking an alternate route through the vines, finally getting braked by an electric pole. Which knocked over, putting most of the town of Epfig out of electricity. Solberg summed up his reaction, captured on his in-car cam, in a succinct one-word response even English speakers would recognize as a term of strong self-beratement. (You can find video of the crash on YouTube.) Wolfer took it in stride, reporting that the damage wasn't so bad. He's an old hand at this by now: It's the third consecutive vintage in which he's had a racecar run through his vineyard. Besides, that's just the lot of vignerons, to deal with Mother Nature and Father Ford Fiesta: hail vintages, frost vintages, mildew vintages, cars-careening-off-course-and-mowing-down-dozens-of-vines-you-have-worked-for-years-to-cultivate vintages. Luckily no humans were injured—not counting Daniel Wolfer, who has been unable to work since July, when he had a tractor accident. We know competition for Cabernet supremacy in Napa's To Kalon can be intense, but don't go getting any ideas, Fred Schrader

Wine and football make a great pairing. Fine-wine college tailgates are even popping up. While active players aren't permitted to promote alcoholic beverages, teams are (see Jets, New York), and this week the Buffalo Bills announced a new partnership with western New York's Constellation Brands, one of the world's largest wine distributors. For at least the next three years, fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium will have access to 15 Constellation brands, including Clos du Bois, Estancia, Blackstone, Woodbridge, Franciscan Estate, Ruffino, Primal Roots and Simply Naked. "This is a natural partnership between two storied companies that both call upstate New York home," said Bills senior vice president of business development Bruce Popko in a press release. "We are pleased to have the leading premium wine company in the world on board to provide our fans with high-quality wines."

• Unfiltered's track record of which sparkling wines are favored by each of Major League Baseball's post-season winners continues. The Washington Nationals lost a heart-breaking Game 5 to the St. Louis Cardinals, who were more than happy to pick up the slack and celebrate with the Nats' favored Korbel. The Detroit Tigers again popped bottles of Fre Brut after winning their series with the Oakland A's. But it may not be all fun and bubbles for MLB champs going forward. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told the Los Angeles Times this week, “This is something I am not happy about: Spraying Champagne all over,” he said. “I’m not a fan of that.” Well, Commish, Unfiltered is not a fan of not being a fan of that, so until you make up a new rule on the matter, we'll agree to disagree.

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