Roger Federer, Natalie Portman Wish Moët Imperial a Happy 150th; Presents Include New Château

Plus, Turin prison blues for winemaker who played with Barolo rules, and a Bordeaux vintner charged with dastardly watering-down of wine

Roger Federer, Natalie Portman Wish Moët Imperial a Happy 150th; Presents Include New Château
From left: Kate Moss, Uma Thurman, Roger Federer and Natalie Portman, probably minutes away from drinking some Champagne (Courtesy of Moët & Chandon)
May 30, 2019

On your first anniversary, you get paper. On your second anniversary, you get cotton—and maybe a little Champagne! On your 60th anniversary, you finally get diamonds, and definitely a lot of Champagne. But what's the rule for your 150th? To celebrate a century and a half of its signature Champagne cuvée, Moët Imperial, Moët & Chandon got: the best men's tennis player alive, two of the most talented and awarded actors in the game, dinner from the chef on this month's cover of Wine Spectator and a lavishly renovated 1801 château. And all the Champagne.

Last week, celebs including Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman and Kate Moss made the trip to Champagne to celebrate the Champagne house's milestone in a fête for the ages, as did tennis legend Roger Federer, who has served as Moët & Chandon’s brand ambassador since 2012.

Château de Saran, Moët & Chandon
Courtesy of Moët & Chandon
House party! The renovated Château de Saran with vineyards in the background.

“I am thrilled to be here in Champagne to toast Moët Imperial, a symbol of global success, at this splendid family château, a grand new symbol for Moët & Chandon whose ‘family’ I am honored to be a part of,” Federer told the crowd of revelers.

Stars of the kitchen were also present for the affair. A rep for Moët told Unfiltered that renowned San Francisco chef and Wine Spectator May 31 issue cover star Dominique Crenn teamed up with French culinary great Yannick Alléno to prepare the four-course pairing menu, which featured langoustine tartare, black cod, steamed morels and caramelized strawberry pie.

Château de Saran, Moët & Chandon
Courtesy of Moët & Chandon
Champagne wishes and caviar dreams

The party also doubled as the unveiling of a new look for the Château de Saran, the maison's manor house in the village of Chouilly, quite sparkling itself after a five-year renovation. Built in 1801 as a hunting lodge for Jean-Rémy Moët, grandson of Moët & Chandon founder Claude Moët, the “Château de Famille” will return to service as a venue for many more extremely extravagant celebrations with Champagne to come.


Six Months of Turin Prison Blues for Winemaker who Played with Barolo Rules

As his mamma told him, don't ever play with DOCG regulations, and now a Piedmont winemaker is headed to the pokey for failing to heed that advice.

After an investigation ordered by the public prosecutor's office in Asti—Italian authorities have been going hard after winecriminals in the past year—a vintner in the village of Cuneo has been convicted of counterfeiting for labeling or fraudulently gaining permission to label thousands of gallons' worth of Nebbiolo with Barolo DOCG. The destemming, crush and fermentation of the grapes was carried out at a factory not in the recognized zone of production, and when it comes to Barolo, yeah, that's an imprisonable offense. According to the local Giornale di Cuneo, the perp was sentenced to six months and a fine of $6,700.

Authorities also seized and will dispose of (however they see fit, we suppose, they earned it), 6,800 gallons and 692 finished bottles of wine from the 2013, '14, '15 and '16 vintages that were labeled or set to be labeled with the false designation.


Bordeaux Vintner Charged with Even More Appalling Crime of Watering Down Wine (and Also Fraud)

Over in France, in the Gironde, another vintner is in court for "deceptive" winemaking practices. What began as an investigation of abnormally high sulfur levels in the wines of the Sequoia company turned up a whole mess of allegations of shady winemaking practices: mixing wines of different appellations, cutting wine with water and fraudulently labeling noncompliant wines with appellations like Graves and Côtes de Bourg. Investigators believe nearly 26,000 gallons of wine are compromised, and prosecutors are seeking a sentence of one year in prison and a $33,000 fine for vintner Vincent Lataste.

Lataste, reported France Bleu, had excuses ready. The water was just residual H20 from recently rinsed filters, and the inventories suggesting illegally mixed wines were simply not updated because his enologist had just returned from vacation.

Lataste is person of interest in winejustice circles: He was previously convicted for involvement in a massive million-bottle fraud scheme in 2016. "This time, I completely refute the accusations," he said in a statement to the court. But just to be safe, he also now lives in the United States.


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