Unfiltered

The Red Sox's victory wine, the Mondavis' severance pay and a dramatic rescue
Oct 27, 2004

Updated 10/28/2004

A sparkling wine from Missouri was the bubbly of choice during the Boston Red Sox victory celebration.
  • Many enophiles watching the Boston Red Sox's World Series victory celebration last night thought the players were soaking each other with Veuve Clicquot Champagne. But the bright orange labels turned out to be those of Mount Pleasant Brut Imperial 2003--a Missouri sparkling wine made with Vidal and St. Vincent grapes and priced at $15 a bottle. Mount Pleasant--whose Norton wine has received very good ratings from Wine Spectator--is a longtime supplier of the St. Louis Cardinals' victory bubbly, says winery president Charles Dressel. Yesterday afternoon, he got a call from the clubhouse manager saying they might need some bottles that night, so he packed up 15 cases in his car and drove to the stadium. "It's probably one of the hardest things I ever did," says the Cardinals fan. "I was really hoping I'd have to pick it up and bring it back home with me." But he consoled himself over the loss by being able to send the Sox a bill for almost $3,000. While the Sox were honoring their opponents' home state through its bubbly, in an interesting coincidence, they were unknowingly paying tribute to Babe Ruth for finally ending his curse. Mount Pleasant also happens to be a pilgrimage site for many New York Yankees and Sox fans, as it's the name of the New York town where the Bambino is buried.

    Michael Mondavi leaves Robert Mondavi Corp. with a $1.5 million severance package and 50 cases of his choosing.
  • Termination never tasted so good. As part of their severance packages from Robert Mondavi Corp., Tim and Michael Mondavi can each pluck 50 cases from the company cellar. That includes wines from Robert Mondavi Winery or any of its partners, such as Opus One and Ornellaia, though the brothers are limited to no more than 10 cases per vintage. There's no word on which wines they chose. Of course, the wine is only a drop in this bucket--Michael gets $1.5 million over 30 months, while Tim gets $1.19 million and a consulting contract that garners $2,400 every day that he clocks at least five hours. Neither package tops new chairman Ted Hall's pay: a signing bonus of $750,000 in January, an annual bonus of at least $400,000 and a monthly retainer of $50,000. But who's to say if Hall also gets the run of the cellar?

  • Stranded! When an unexpected blizzard hit central California's Sierra Nevada high country, Soquel Vineyards co-owner and winemaker Paul Bargetto and three family members failed to return home from a weekend camping trip. Worried relatives reported Bargetto, 47; his son Michael, 20; his brother-in-law Frank Horvath, 45; and Frank's son Dominic, 16, missing on Monday, Oct. 18. But heavy snows, high winds and near-zero temperatures hampered the efforts of search-and-rescue teams. (Three rescuers got lost themselves.) Finally, three days later, on Thursday morning, a Chinook chopper spotted the men and their tent and pulled them from the snow. Paul's twin brother, Peter Bargetto, said the four were "beat up and tired" but otherwise OK. "They've all lost a lot of weight," Peter said. "Their menu was about five peanuts for breakfast and one tablespoon of peanut butter each for dinner." Cousin Martin Bargetto, president of Bargetto Winery, said the family was moved by the support given by the local community and the searchers. "I'm amazed when I think of the rescue workers carrying four sets of boots and IV's, moving a quarter of a mile an hour and looking for people they don't even know," he said.

  • Anthony Bourdain's latest book is as unconventional as the Manhattan chef-turned-writer himself. The author of the earlier Kitchen Confidential is known for his salty language, which peppers the recipes in his new Les Halles Cookbook. At the book party, as frites and casual French fare streamed from the kitchen, Les Halles co-owner Philippe Lajaunie explained over the din that the book was like the bistro: "Uncomplicated, but good, not stuffy, not expensive. We want to put people at ease, let them enjoy themselves." Or as Bourdain put it: "It's bullshit free." Rather than turn out lavishly illustrated food porn, Bourdain wanted to teach people to cook in a professional manner, the way he teaches his line cooks. (That explains the frequency of italics, all capital letters and exclamation points in his instructions, as well as statements such as "even your country-ass can make it" or "you might need a drink for this," when it comes to killing lobster.) But he did reveal a sentimental side. Between far-ranging rants, Bourdain held forth on his love of the dishes he features: "This food gets to the kernel of why French food has endured."

    Red Knot will export about 20,000 cases of Zork-topped wine to the U.S. this fall.
  • Zorks! It pops like a cork. It reseals like a screw cap. It's made of plastic like a synthetic. The Zork, the latest alternative wine closure from Down Under, will soon make its first major appearance on in the United States. This past summer a little bit of Zorked d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz 2002 trickled into the country, but the first large release will be made by a newer Australian winery, Red Knot, which is exporting about 20,000 cases of Zork-topped Shiraz and Cabernet, as well as its new White Knot Chardonnay, to U.S. stores this fall for $12 a bottle. Winemaker John Davey says the Zork "removes worry over cork taint" and "ensures the quality of the wine we put into the bottle." So if you need the pop, this might be the top.

  • The Music Hasn't Stopped: In the latest shuffling of chefs at top San Francisco restaurants, Laurent Gras is leaving as executive chef of the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning Fifth Floor to return to New York. "I am at the point in my career where I want to have my own restaurant," says Gras, 39, who hopes to put together a deal for a new venue. Melissa Perello, 27, who had dazzled San Francisco diners with her modern California cuisine at Charles Nob Hill since 2001, will be the new chef starting in mid-November. Perello's style is lighter and less formal than Gras', although her dishes are anchored in classic French techniques. In a little over a year, Aqua, Campton Place, Masa's and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton all named new chefs.

  • If Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke peddled wine … A new Manhattan wine store makes it easy to ask endless wine questions of its staff members: They're computers. Are you curious if the grapes for that Pinot Noir were handpicked or how long that Chardonnay sat in oak? Grab a bottle and scan it at one of the 11 kiosks at Discovery Wines, in the East Village, and it can provide you with a heap of information, including the wine's pedigree, viticulture and vinification specifics, tasting notes, maps and photos of its region of origin and suggested food pairings. Or input your dinner menu and let the computer do the pairing work. For Luddites, there's also a friendly and knowledgeable humanoid staff on hand to assist.

    Chefs from more than 30 restaurants participated in the 12th Annual Feast with Famous Faces.
  • TV fans got their fill in more ways than one at the 12th Annual Feast with Famous Faces, a walk-around tasting that paired soap opera stars and local newscasters with New York restaurants. Visitors stopping by the table of Tribeca Grill (a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner) were served braised short ribs with foie gras and porcini mousse by Tuc Watkins, who plays David Vickers on One Life to Live, and Dana Tyler from WCBS-TV Channel 2. For dessert, Daniel restaurant (another Grand Award winner) was serving chocolate fondant nougatine with milk jam and almond praline ice cream, along with the equally sweet Katie McGee, also from WCBS-TV. The event was co-chaired by daytime TV's on- and off-screen couple, One Life to Live's Kassie and Jim DePaiva. The Oct. 18 charity event, of which Wine Spectator was a sponsor, raised $350,000 for the children's programs and services of the League for the Hard of Hearing.
  • Unfiltered

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