Unfiltered

Joe Montana at a dog of a wine auction, a tsunami-surviving cellar and what Brit celebrities are drinking these days
Aug 3, 2005

• The Imagine 2005 benefit, which last weekend raised a total of $2.5 million for children's charities in Sonoma County and Russia, drew wine-loving celebrities such as NBA star-turned-actor John Salley, actress Jane Seymour and Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Brian Boitano. But it was a dog that stole the spotlight at the charity wine auction. Donated by Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, the "Terroir and Terrier" lot included a 9-liter bottle of Kendall-Jackson Highland Estates Napa Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and a West Highland Terrier puppy. The pooch, who put in a personal appearance, was so charming that the terrier portion of the lot sold twice, garnering a total of $39,000. (The second bidder gets to pick one of the terrier's siblings, who unfortunately were not in attendance.) In addition to the puppy, two phantoms appeared

Kendall-Jackson owners Barbara Banke and Jess Jackson with the star of the show.
at the second annual Imagine event, held at Chalk Hill Winery in Healdsburg, Calif. Franc d'Ambrosio (the longest running lead in a stage production of Phantom of the Opera) introduced the top auction lot, a limited-edition 80th anniversary Rolls-Royce Phantom, with a musical performance. But the car wasn't bought for a song. San Francisco 49er legend Joe Montana (who makes a limited-edition wine with Ed Sbragia of Beringer) and his wife, Jennifer, bid $380,000 to win the Rolls and become the day's highest bidders.

• The father of the French Paradox, Serge Renaud, who once worried that his work would be forgotten if he retired, has been recognized for his wine and health research. French president Jacques Chirac gave Renaud the Légion d'Honneur, the country's highest civilian honor, on July 14. Americans best remember Renaud for an interview he gave on the CBS program 60 Minutes, in 1991. He postulated that rates of heart disease in France were lower than those in the United States, despite the French diet being high in saturated fats, because so many French consumed moderate amounts of red wine. While Renaud never actually came up with the term "French Paradox," his award cements his reputation for popularizing the concept.

A special treat: Da Maurizio is offering wines that survived the Dec. 26 tsunami.
• When Phuket beachfront restaurant Da Maurizio, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner since 2003, was destroyed in the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, its concrete wine cellar remained intact and only a few bottles were broken. Fortunately, the spirit of the owners and the employees also remained intact, and the restaurant is now up and running again. "We began rebuilding almost immediately," says Steven Roberto, director of wine for the Baan Rim Pa Group, which owns the restaurant. "While other restaurants sacked their staff, we reached into pocket and kept our employees busy working in our sister restaurants or even in the rebuilding. This allowed us to reopen quickly with the same service standards as before." But with one major difference: The expanded wine list now has a special section for wines that were recovered from the cellar after the disaster. "The wines are intact and have a historical value," says Roberto. "After all, how often does one have the opportunity to enjoy an Italian wine that survived a tsunami?" Not often, as a tsunami of such magnitude occurs only about once every 230 years.

• The one-time jewel in the crown of the British Empire is now producing the wine in the glass of the British elite. This summer, around London, wines from India have been all the rage, with well-known people, such as actress Liz Hurley and Mayor Ken Livingstone serving selections from a country not previously well-known for wine production. Hurley's recent birthday bash was decked out in Raj-chic and guests sipped Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc from Château Sula, located about 100 miles from Mumbai. Hizzoner was reported to have offered a wider selection to guests at a nighttime summer do, with several bottlings from around the subcontinent on offer. Wine importers in England say that demand for Indian wines has jumped by as much as 30 percent in recent years. Having such high-profile sippers doesn't hurt, but neither does the fact that in England these days curry is practically the national dish.

• There are two wine companies in England, however, that won't be selling Indian wines anytime soon. Or any wines at all, for that matter. The owners of Liquid Acquisitions and James Hewitt Associates, Andrew Dunne and Thomas Sloan, have been banned from trading in the wine business for 10 years. Their wine investment firms landed in hot water with the United Kingdom's Department of Trade and Industry for selling wines to clients at three to four times the actual value. The DTI imposed the ban after an investigation found that Dunne and Sloan told their salespeople to make false claims, such as the wines were tax free or that the wine being sold was first-growth Bordeaux. (It wasn't.)

• It's summer, so it's the time of year to drink rosé anyway, but an Oregon restaurant and a California vintner are giving wine lovers another good reason. From now to Sept. 18, Heathman Restaurant and Bar in Portland is donating 20 percent of all rosé sales to the local affiliates of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The effort will culminate with sommelier Tysan Pierce and other restaurant staffers running in the Race for the Cure. Meanwhile, former Olympic figure skater Peggy Fleming, who recently started her own winery with her husband, Greg Jenkins, will introduce the Fleming Jenkins Victories Rosé in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Fleming, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, will donate all net proceeds from the Victories Rosé to the V Foundation for Cancer Research and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. The 3,000 magnums will be available for $50 each exclusively on Wine.com, though 100 bottles signed by Fleming and her husband will be sold for $100 each. Fleming says she will also continue to deliver speeches around the country about breast-cancer awareness, "getting women motivated and not procrastinating about making appointments." Unfiltered raises a glass of rosé to that.

Unfiltered

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