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• While there are doubtless millions of dollars in “friendly wagers” riding on the NBA Finals, one fan has put his money, or rather his wine, where his mouth is. Bay Area rapper-turned-vintner and Golden State Warriors superfan E-40 (aka Earl Stevens), who brought us the slang gem “fo’ shizzle,” declared this week to TMZ that if the Warriors beat Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, “the whole team will get as many bottles of my Mangoscato wine from Earl Stevens Selections as they want until next season begins.” If Oakland’s finest live up to current Vegas odds and defeat King James and the Cavs, that would give the roster of 15 players a little over four months to celebrate with the $20 per bottle, 18 percent alcohol Moscato-based white wine, given that the 2015-‘16 season doesn’t start until late October. The last time James was winning championship rings he was with the Miami Heat, and he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh celebrated with a nebuchadnezzar (15 liters!) of Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Champagne. Considering just a regular old 750ml shiny gold bottle of Ace of Spades goes for $225, and Armand de Brignac owner Jay Z is loyal to the Brooklyn Nets, Unfiltered suspects Lebron and company will be on their own when it comes to their off-season bubbly supply should they pull off an upset.
• Last year Unfiltered reported on the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's decision to play “gotcha” by following the social media accounts of participants in what had been (more on that later) called the Save Mart Supermarkets Grape Escape wine festival. The ABC was doing so in an attempt to enforce its “tied house” law, the one where a winery cannot promote a retailer and vice versa, which was violated when wineries tweeted that tickets to the Save Mart Supermarkets Grape Escape were available at (where else?) Save Mart Supermarkets. None of the eight offenders were fined or otherwise penalized—they were each given one year of probation.
But it would appear the damage to the festival was greater than anything the wineries suffered. This year’s event, which would have been the 14th annual, was canceled after just four wineries signed up, down from more than 60 in years prior. If you’re the type to read between the lines, you might draw a connection between last year’s ABC crackdown and this year’s anemic interest in participation. Tim Gorsuch, director of the California ABC, is not such a type, however. “I wish I knew why things shook out the way they did,” he told the Sacramento Business Journal of the festival's cancelation due to lack of interest. It's a real head-scratcher.
• One of Unfiltered’s favorite mustachioed counts is staking a claim on the Cape. Stephan von Neipperg, of the Right Bank Bordeaux estates Château Canon-La Gaffelière and La Mondotte, among others, announced in May that he will become a shareholder in Capaia Wines, a 346-acre estate in the Philadelphia ward near Durbanville, South Africa.
“I try to be a real wine entrepreneur,” von Neipperg told Unfiltered, “[to] find good opportunities of outstanding terroirs that are not very well-known.” He started consulting at Capaia in 2005 and has known the owner, Baroness Ingrid von Essen, for many years. “Madame von Essen is a charming lady,” von Neipperg said. “She started something very exciting and beautiful and I am very happy to take part in this nice adventure.” As he has contributed to the technical side for a decade now, he is looking forward to bringing his marketing expertise to further elevate the prestige of the property. Capaia’s vineyards are located entirely on clay-schist slopes, planted to red and white Bordeaux varieties as well as to Syrah; they're planning to add more Syrah moving forward. Their two red cuvées, Capaia One and Capaia Merlot-Cabernet, as well as their Sauvignon Blanc, have consistently scored in the very good to outstanding range.
The heart of wine country was beating a little faster this past weekend as Napa Valley hosted BottleRock, a three-day festival of music, food, art and wine. Now in its third year, the event attracted an estimated 100,000 festivalgoers of all ages and stripes to downtown Napa’s fairgrounds. It featured more than 70 artists on multiple stages, with headliners including No Doubt, Snoop Dogg, Imagine Dragons and former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant. Joining the musicians were a cast of local chefs and celebrities at the festival’s culinary stage. Between sets, foodies could catch cooking demonstrations including Oenotri’s Tyler Rodde teaching actor Earl Brown and former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland how to butcher a pig and make sausage. Oakland Raiders safety and Napa vintner Charles Woodson and San Francisco 49er tight end Vernon Davis were in on the act as well, learning how to toss pizza with chef Tony Gemignani.
It being Napa, wine seemed to be as much of a draw as beer with the festive crowd. Wineries such as Silver Oak, Schramsberg, Rombauer and Robert Mondavi had tents set up around the main stages with photo booths, games and stylish lounges. And they weren’t the only ones making the rounds. Unfiltered spotted members of funk group Lettuce at Round Pond’s wine tent tasting rosé. The festival has fast become a staple of the Northern California summer music scene, and BottleRock promoters have already announced it will return next year.
• Marc Perrin, of the Rhône Valley’s Perrin family, joined fellow Frenchman Didier Depond, president of Champagne Salon and Delamotte, as headliner at the third-annual Tinto for Techo fund-raiser held in the Pool Room at the Four Seasons New York last week. The winemaker charity dinner benefited Techo (aka Un Techo para Mi País, or "A Roof for My Country" in Spanish), a youth-led nonprofit organization dedicated to combatting poverty in Latin America’s poorest communities. Both men introduced and poured some of their top wines—Depond shared his Delamotte Champagne Blanc de Blancs NV in magnum and Perrin offered Perrin & Fils Gigondas La Gille 2011, Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012 and Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2008.
Throughout the three-course dinner, sommeliers also poured selections from Italy's Antinori, Slovenia's Movia, and Spain's Alvaro Palacios. And if guests still hadn’t gotten their fill of wine, they could bid on bottles donated by Domaine Select Wine Estate and Italian Wine Merchants, both sponsors of the event, in a live and silent auction. The goal of the fund-raiser, according to Techo’s U.S. CEO Diego Firpo, was to “[bring] together New York’s food and wine … communities to join the fight against poverty.” This year's dinner proceeds totaled $466,615, all going toward building 187 transitional homes in Latin America.