• As Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour approaches each year, there is always an up-tick in wine events as hundreds of the world’s top vintners and winemakers come to town. This year was no different, but one tasting in particular caught our eye earlier this month. Unfiltered headed to Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Tribeca Grill for a tasting of the Siduri and Novy lineups hosted by winemaker and owner Adam Lee. His guests of honor were the real attraction, however. Hip-hop star Sadat X of Brand Nubian was in the house, along with his producer, Will Tell. Sadat X and Tell have recently earned themselves a following in the wine community (Lee included) with their frequent webcasts, titled “True Wine Connoisseurs.” In the videos (which definitely fall under the category of “adults only”), Sadat X presents a few wines, rating them on various, er, “factors.” The True Wine Connoisseurs program generally sticks to wines priced at $20 or less, but Sadat and Tell have made exceptions in the past for donated wines, including an episode starring Lee’s wines. "The Siduri and Novy tasting was very informative for an upcoming wine connoisseur like myself," Sadat X told Unfiltered after attending both the Tribeca Grill tasting and the Grand Tour the following night. "It was a pleasure meeting Adam Lee.” And a pleasure for Unfiltered to see some refreshing new perspectives introduced to the world of fine wine.
NESN reporter Heidi Watney was the master of ceremonies at the debut of Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury's Zinfandellsbury wine at Boston's House of Blues this week.
• Boston Red Sox fans haven’t had much to cheer about so far this season, but there are some new Red Sox wines entering the market that should give wine-loving fans reason to smile. Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and pitcher Josh Beckett are lending their names to this year’s crop of charity wines from Longball Vineyards. Previous Red Sox to earn the honor include Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield in 2007, and David Ortiz, among others, in 2008. This year’s offerings include Zinfandellsbury and Chardon-K. Sales of Zinfandellsbury (both wines are expected to cost $14 per bottle) will benefit the Navajo Relief Fund, Project Bread and the Ellsbury-Read Project, while Chardon-K proceeds will go to the Josh Beckett Foundation and Children’s Hospital Boston. To date, the Longball Vineyards charity wine projects have involved more than 30 professional athletes and raised more than $1.7 million for their respective charities. No matter the Red Sox’s final record, Unfiltered is inclined to say that everyone’s a winner on this project.
Superstar chef Wolfgang Puck will be lending his voice to Chef Smurf in the upcoming feature film.
• Unfiltered has long known that Wolfgang Puck is a man of many talents—cooking, of course, but also charity work, running a worldwide business empire, making great wine and food pairings, even making tough choices about what to serve (and not to serve) in his establishments—and now we hear that he’ll be making use of his distinctive Austrian-accented voice to bring an animated character to life on the big screen. According to a report in Entertainment Weekly, Puck will join an all-star cast as the voice of Chef Smurf in the feature film Smurfs, which is slated for an August 2011 release (The Office’s B.J. Novak will provide the voice of Baker Smurf). Smurfs, of course, are mythical blue creatures, three apples tall, created by Belgian comic book artist Peyo in 1958 and popularized in the United States in the 1980s through an animated television series. Joining Puck and Novak in the film will be actors Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris and Paul “Pee-Wee Herman” Reubens. Unfiltered has just one question for Chef Smurf: What would he serve with Smurfberry wine?
• Wedding bells will remain silent in Napa Valley for now, as a proposed change to the Winery Definition Ordinance was struck down Tuesday evening. The Napa County Board of Supervisors did vote 3-2 to allow wineries to host corporate events and pair wine with food. However, in a compromise between supporters and proponents, weddings, receptions and anniversary parties will remain prohibited. Many local wineries and those in the hospitality industry advocated for the right to host more events, including weddings, as a way to reach out to new customers and increase revenue. Opponents argued that the influx in traffic and people would harm the environment. With the new rules, wineries can host events as long as they prove they are directly linked to the marketing of wine.