• Parducci, one of Mendocino County’s oldest wineries, got a turn in the spotlight last week when the winery’s True Grit Petite Sirah made its Hollywood debut. Parducci partner Tim Thornhill saddled up and rode down to Los Angeles (OK, maybe he flew) to pour wines at the cast screening of Ethan and Joel Coen’s new Academy Award contender, True Grit. The film is a remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic Western and stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. Paramount’s PR peeps went for the tie-in in a big way, pouring Parducci’s True Grit exclusively for the screening and buying 100 extra bottles for distribution to their media contacts. Petite Sirah is considered one of Mendocino County’s heritage grape varieties. “We’ve got some vineyards in the county that have survived both Prohibition and phylloxera, and we’ve got some of our fruit coming from third-generation Petite Sirah growers,” Thornhill said. The wine got its name several years ago when a publicist who was barrel tasting at Parducci quipped that the gutsy wine was a real “John Wayne among reds.” The True Grit label bears a line drawing of a pair of boots with spurs and the words “indomitable of spirit, enduring and steadfast, rugged and appealing.” Sounds like the Duke to us.
• If it’s true what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree, then perhaps the grapes fall even closer to the vines. Ashley and Austin Coleman are the great-grandchildren of Julio Gallo, and along with their cousins Geoff Coleman and Josh Little, they have just started a wine business, Greater Purpose. As the name suggests, the founders of the Modesto, Calif.-based company, who are all in their twenties, intend to support charitable causes while making wines designed to appeal to their peers. “Our business model is simple in that if we are selling wine, then we are profitable, and thus can give back 55 percent of our profits to charitable organizations,” said Ashley Coleman, who heads the company’s marketing efforts. She added that the cousins’ decision to take on both winemaking and philanthropy were inspired by their famous ancestors, explaining, “My great-grandparents set a great example for all future generations in my family, always giving back generously to the community. They themselves coming from humble beginnings, I think they felt very compelled to lend a hand to those in need.” The cousins have already traveled to Haiti, to deliver 300 pounds of clothing and educational materials for children on behalf of Greater Purpose. They’re planning a similar trip to Mexico and hope to support Modesto-area nonprofits as well. The company currently offers two non-vintage red wines whose grapes are sourced from Sonoma and Napa, and whose names befit the Gallo “Hearty Burgundy” legacy: “Bold,” which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah, and “Smooth,” a Cabernet and Zinfandel blend.
Margrit Mondavi rubbed shoulders with Isabella Rossellini at Art Basel Miami.
• Unfiltered’s favorite blend of wine, food, art and charity came together earlier this month at Art Basel Miami Beach. The Florida International University’s Wolfsonian Museum hosted a dinner and auction Dec. 1 honoring Isabella Rossellini and her video installation titled Seduce Me, a series of short films starring Rossellini and a cast of paper cut-outs exploring the seduction rituals of the animal kingdom (it’s a followup to Green Porno, a similar series on some of wildlife’s more bizarre mating rituals). The dinner was co-hosted by Margrit Mondavi, who provided both the dinner’s wine pairings and several of the auction lots, and chef Jean Georges Vongerichten. Vongerichten served cracker-crusted tuna with Mondavi’s 2007 I Block Fumé Blanc and caramelized lamb chops with Mondavi’s 2007 and 1996 reserve Cabernets. Jamie Ritchie of Sotheby’s auctioned off numerous lots, the proceeds from which benefited the Wolfsonian Museum and FIU. A dinner for four at Jean-Georges prepared personally by Vongerichten, including hands-on kitchen instruction from the chef himself, sold for $4,000, and an 8-bottle lot of Mondavi Cabernets dating back to 1973 realized $2,000.