Sonoma's New Queen of Mean

Plus, White House wines go undercover and a guide to pairing wine and Girl Scout cookies
Mar 15, 2012

• Unfiltered's long love/hate affair with ABC's The Bachelor came to its merciful end this week with the revelation of California wine country's worst-kept secret: Envolve winery co-owner Ben Flajnik popped the question to Courtney Robertson, the beautiful L.A. model that viewers almost unanimously loved to hate. Of course she said yes, but anyone who has passed by a drugstore magazine rack in the past few weeks knows there's been trouble in wine country. Fear not, however, reality TV romantics! Unfiltered got the inside scoop that Courtney flew to San Francisco yesterday for a crack at reconciliation with our winemaking hero, and that last night they made up over a bottle of Two Hands Shiraz and Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs. More important, we also got an Unfiltered exclusive that Ben is finally getting back to the business of wine. "I just wrapped up all my Bachelor filming and am very much looking forward to getting back to my full-time life as a winemaker," Flajnik said via e-mail. "Since the show premiered in January, these have been some of the busiest months of my life. The Bachelor was an amazing experience, but I'm looking forward to having a normal life again—cooking for my roommates/business partners Mike Benziger and Danny Fay (they've gotten really thin since I went on the Bachelorette, since I'm the only one who cooks in the house), spending time with my mom and sister Julia, and making wine. Definitely don't expect me on Dancing with the Stars. I will miss all those helicopters though!"

It's no secret that the White House breaks out the good stuff for state dinners. It's also no secret that the good stuff sometimes requires the President (and all of us) to shake out his eagle-shaped piggy bank. (Yes, Unfiltered understands that Presidents don't foot the bill for state dinners out of pocket.) It seems that the White House no longer wishes to share the details of how good that good stuff is with the rest of us envious enophiles, however, because for every state dinner Obama has held since he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in January 2011, the wine list has not been disclosed. The White House always releases the menus of state dinners, but on recent menus from dinners with German and Korean leaders, the wines were omitted, replaced by the note "An American wine will be paired with each course," which really doesn't narrow down the possibilities much for the wine-curious who might like to sleuth them out.

Though 1600 Pennsylvania has stayed mum on the subject of the wine cover-up, it seems plausible that this is a safeguard against the types of pundits who would cluck at Obama for having the temerity to serve fine wines, many from the "Left" Coast, to leaders of countries that are not even America, in This Economy no less. Indeed, the last time the White House made its picks public, the inclusion of a 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet, which was going for upward of $300 at the time, earned the President mockery. ("We the people" actually paid closer to the release price of $115 for those bottles.) Unfiltered thinks this is a shame, since White House director of food and beverage Daniel Shanks told Wine Spectator he has served wines from 19 or 20 states since the Clinton administration, and the publicity can be a boon for the visibility of wineries, not to mention sales of the wines. And everyone knows you don't have to spend the Fed to get a nice bottle. Shanks cited Iron Horse (CEO Joy Sterling told us today she's been "sworn to secrecy!"), Schramsberg, Domaine Chandon and Gruet as some of his choice bubbles—not Cold Duck money, but not exactly Krug money either. But this is not the first time a president has been secretive about his wine picks: Richard Nixon was known to have waitstaff obscure the labels of wines with a towel so he could pour guests plonk while drinking Margaux himself.

• If a young girl in a strange costume showed up at your doorstep with a bunch of wine bottles, you would probably call Child Protective Services, and you would be right to. This is why the Girl Scouts of America sell cookies as a fund-raiser instead. But just because there's no drinking in Girl Scouts—Scouts' Honor!—doesn't mean the rest of us can't enjoy their delicious pastry confections with a glass or two. This was just the idea Kris Margerum, wine director at Napa's famous Auberge du Soleil, came up with. He scoured the restaurant's 17,000-bottle cellar and conjured up a tasting menu, one wine for each cookie. Naturally, you'll want to try this at home, so here are his picks:

Trefoils-Old Fashioned Shortbread: 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine
Savannah Smiles: 2010 Dr. Loosen “Bernkasteler Lay” Riesling-Kabinett
Dosidos-Peanut Butter Cremes: 2009 Schloss Gobelsburg Gobelsburger Zweigelt
Thank U Berry Much: 2009 Romililly Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
Dulce de Leche: 2006 Renwood “Grandmére” Zinfandel
Samoas deserve a Graham’s 20-Year Tawny Port
Tagalongs-Peanut Butter Patties complement the Rare Wine Company’s “Imperial-Old Reserve” Malmsey Maderia
And for the eternal Thin Mint: Noval Vintage Ruby Reserve Port

In other Girl Scout news, the Girl Scouts of Northern California have honored 100 women for their 100th anniversary, specifically women with achievements in environmental betterment ("greening the future," as they say). No fewer than six wine industry folks were selected for the honor: Vanessa Robledo of Black Coyote Wines, Cathy Corison of Corison Winery, Sara Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars, Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros, Zelma Long, formerly of Long Vineyards and Christine Wente of Wente Vineyards.

Actors Unfiltered

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