• Six-time Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist and wine connoisseur Dave Koz has thrown his hat into the celebrity wine label ring. Koz is partnering with Whole Foods Markets and the Starlight Children’s Foundation to produce some real “wines with a Koz.” Koz has been a global ambassador for Starlight for 17 years, and all proceeds from the sale of Koz Wines will go to Starlight’s mission of assisting seriously ill children and their families. Koz met Whole Foods Southern California president Patrick Bradley in 2008 on a cruise and the two discovered their mutual passion for jazz and wine, which led to the idea of a collaboration. Koz traveled to Santa Ynez, Mendocino and Napa researching vineyards and tasting wines in search of a winemaking partner, and eventually teamed up with Vinum Cellars owner and winemaker Chris Condos. The wines, released this month, include a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) and Sauvignon Blanc ($17), and are available at all Whole Foods Markets in Southern California. If the wines are as smooth as Koz’s albums, the sky’s the limit for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
• The U.K.-based GlassRite Wine project has announced the launch of a wine bottle that weighs 10.5 ounces when full (the average wine bottle weighs at least 17 ounces). According to the firm overseeing the project, the Waste & Resources Action Program (WRAP), says shifting to a lighter wine bottle is filled with environmentally friendly consequences: Britain imports 1.6 billion bottles every year, nearly 700,000 tons, creating significant carbon dioxide emissions through transportation, according to WRAP. Closed with a screw cap, the new 300-gram wine bottles will be used initially by supermarket giant Tesco, and plans for a similar sparkling wine bottle are also being developed. Big names such as Constellation and Pernod Ricard, as well as trade groups such as Wines of Spain and Wines of South Africa are also getting involved. Unfiltered says the more to lighten up, the merrier—all these ultra-heavy high-end bottles are making our pouring arm look like Popeye’s.
• While GlassRite may be reducing waste, American Airlines is going down the reuse/recycle route, with a new program that’s giving the life of a cork more, ahem, closure. The airline is partnering with ReCork America, a for-profit institution that is pushing for more responsible cork disposal in the industry, in an effort to put post-pop corks to better use. Under the new plan, Sodexo, the company that caters all of American Airlines' Admirals Club airport lounges, will collect all of the old corks from wine bottles opened for fliers and pass them on to ReCork. The leftovers will be repurposed into a variety of products, including shoe soles, flooring and even compost. "Natural cork wine closures are ideal for recycling," said ReCork's program coordinator, Teresa Relogio. "They are a natural product that is totally renewable." So what's next? Leftover wine fueling airplanes? According to Prince Charles and Shaquille O’Neal, the idea may not be so far-fetched.
Unfiltered's favorite afternoon snacks, now for use as a commodity in Italy.
• Seems the Italian banking industry is getting more and more creative when it comes to financing. The longstanding tradition of accepting huge wheels of Parmigiana as collateral from loan-seeking producers of the cheese may soon be extended to makers of prosciutto and wine. The idea, pitched this past week by Gianni Zonin, who owns about 10 vineyard properties across Italy and also happens to chair one of the largest banks in Italy – has already received initial approval by Italy’s minister of agriculture, Luca Zaia. The new plan would allow cash-strapped producers of what most consider “luxury goods” (goods that can increase in value over time) to use their product as collateral against loans that are becoming more necessary in the face of slowing global demand. We wonder if this means the banks will have storehouses full of aged Parmigiana, entire legs of prosciutto and case upon case of vintage Barolo, Chianti, and Brunello. If so, it’s enough to tempt Unfiltered into the bank heist business.
• Starting in September, wine drinkers in Maine who include a stop at the wine shop should leave the kids at home. A recent amendment to the state’s liquor laws prohibits children from observing tastings of wine, beer or alcohol in off-premise establishments. An amendment to L.D. 498 by Rep. David Webster states, “taste-testing activities must be conducted in a manner that precludes the possibility of observation by children.” Webster told the Kennebec Journal it was never his intention to hurt small wine shops; his amendment was aimed at large grocery stores where families shop with children, and there was supposed to be an exemption for small retail stores. Webster stated that legislators agree that the bill must be reworded, but unfortunately for retailers, that change can’t happen until the next session, in January. John VerPlanck, owner of the Black Sheep Wine Shop in Harpswell, told Unfiltered that a fellow retailer who has already spoken to the state was told she will have to board up her windows, post signs telling parents their children are not welcome and hire someone to stand by the door during tastings. VerPlanck said though he would have no problem posting a sign on his front door, he hopes he’ll be able to leave the hammer and nails at home. “I should think that common sense would prevail and it would not be that vigorously enforced, but the law is the law, and we will certainly not risk our license by not complying,” he said.