• Regular readers of Unfiltered are well aware that “Awards Season”—and the wine sponsorships that come with it—is in full swing. And with each walk down the red carpet comes a bevy of worn-once little black dresses, which for the past few years have been harvested by the Little Black Dress wine label for the Clothes Off Our Back foundation’s annual charity auction. This year the sale of the numerous celebrity gowns, as well as a large collection of autographed bottles of Little Black Dress wines, will benefit numerous children’s charities including Feeding America, Malaria No More, Hope North (a boarding school for escaped Ugandan child soldiers and orphans), AbilityFirst and Villa Esperanza (both of which assist children and adults with disabilities) and Alex's Lemonade Stand (dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancers). Of particular interest this year is a Donna Karan dress worn by celebrity chef Rachael Ray at last year’s Vanity Fair party following the Academy Awards. And it’s currently quite a steal at $175. All of the Little Black Dress auctions at clothesoffourback.org end March 1. Happy bidding!
• What are the titans of international business and geopolitics and, apparently, Peter Gabriel drinking at the Davos World Economic Forum? Probably just a few beers. Glass of Zin, maybe. Normal-people stuff no doubt. Oh? The Davos Tasting was put on by the Wine Forum, “a society of very senior private and public sector leaders who share a passion for fine wine” that is “strictly by invitation only”? “This evening’s wine selection consists of wines that have achieved 100 points or equivalent from one of three well-known raters”? Well then. Here are some of the supplies you’ll need to throw your own Davos-themed party: 1969 Vega Sicilia, 1982 Krug, 1982 Pichon Lalande, 1990 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn, 1994 Harlan, 1994 Quinta do Noval Port, 1998 Le Pin, 2000 Cheval-Blanc, 2000 Pavie, 2002 Greenock Creek Shiraz Roennfeldt Road, 2004 Le Macchiole Toscana Messorio, 2006 Colgin, and, somehow, 2009 Léoville Poyferré, the inclusion of which strikes Unfiltered as jumping the gun a bit on the “100 points” requirement, not to mention the usual “being bottled and ready for consumption” requirement. What can we say? Money talks.
• In that old-timey, patrician, sporting spirit, every June, the top university wine clubs from France and Britain—Écoles normales Supérieures of Paris and Lyon, Cambridge, Oxford, etc.—meet at Château Lafite Rothschild to answer obscure questions about Left Bank Bordeaux wine and identify appellations and vintages in a blind-tasting showdown. “A friendly contest between the French and the English, our best enemy,” is how Emmanuel Cruse of Château d’Issan, the chairman of the Commanderie du Bontemps Bordeaux syndicate that organizes the contest, put it. This year, for the first time, the “20 sur Vin” competition is including Asia and the United States, and this past Saturday, five American wine clubs faced off in the preliminary round at the French consulate to see who’d carry Old Glory to Lafite.
These two Harvard Business School students are heading to Bordeaux.
Teams of four from Wharton, Harvard Business School, Columbia Business and Law schools and Kellogg at Northwestern—also collectively known as “the future American market for classified-growth Bordeaux”—met in New York to answer 10 questions and taste three flights. The teams told Unfiltered they’d been studying and tasting since October. It was whispered that Wharton had been tasting through different appellations twice a week. The Commanderie, with representatives from Châteaus Dauzac, Lascombes and Lagrange, filed in, decked in crimson robes, hats that can only be described as “French” and tastevin bling. First multiple-choice question: How many AOCs are there in the Médoc? Team Unfiltered, playing along on the sidelines, held up seven fingers (there are eight if you include the Médoc AOC itself) and answered “six,” suggesting that Team Unfiltered would not have qualified for Bordeaux. Or business school. It got harder from there. Which of these first-growths is located in the commune of Sauternes—Guiraud, Rieussec or Suduiraut? (Guiraud) What gave the Jeroboam bottle its name? (The first sovereign of the kingdom of Israel) What date did the Pessac-Léognan appellation come into existence? (July 9, 1987) The tasting itself, a sort of inverse-Iron Chef where the winemakers judge the tasters, stymied even the best at times. Such as: three wines—name each appellation (audible groans when “Moulis” was revealed as one). What vintage are these Sauternes from? (2002? Really?)
Unfiltered canvassed the teams afterward; their characterizations ranged from “fun” to “hard” to “incredibly hard.” Wharton came out on top, and each of its members will get a magnum of Lafite. A Harvard Business club member called it, “a learning experience—but I don’t say that in defeat.” Indeed, his team is headed for Lafite as well, as the top two teams received invitations. Despite the difficulty, Cruse was impressed. How did the Americans stack up against the French and British? Cruse would only tell Unfiltered that he was “very pleased” by the results and the comparison was favorable: “They did well.” Now two teams hit the bottles again, training to bring home the gold.