• It must be a "G" thang. Richard Betts, sommelier at the Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., and Dennis Scholl, a Miami-based art collector, took their cue from one of hip-hop's defining albums when it came to naming their latest Betts & Scholl Barossa Valley Grenache. As Betts explains it, blending sessions are normally serious work, with lots of sipping, note taking and spitting, but this particular blend "just kept getting drunk, it didn't get spit. It was rather chronic in its own right." So Betts, a fan of hip-hop, decided to call it like he saw it and named the 2003 wine The Chronique, inspired by Dr. Dre's 1992 debut solo album The Chronic. (The French spelling was easier to get past the government powers that control wine labeling.) "It's definitely a shout-out to Dr. Dre in its most inspirational form. It's pretty fun music, but it really reflected our sentiment," says Betts. Wouldn't you know it, Dr. Dre and his family happened to be at Little Nell for Thanksgiving dinner. The resort didn't yet have the wine at the time, but Betts has since shipped the rapper and producer a case and is awaiting his feedback. If Dre likes The Chronique, maybe on his next album he'll make the first sommelier shout-out in recording history.
• The stakes are so high in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4—when the top-ranked USC Trojans play the No. 2 Texas Longhorns for the NCAA national championship—that they lead all the way up Capitol Hill. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have made a friendly wager on the game. If Texas wins, Feinstein will send Hutchison a bottle of California wine and a bouquet of yellow roses, and if USC wins, Hutchison will send Feinstein a bottle of Texas wine and a bouquet of red roses. Sound like Feinstein gets the worse end of the deal? Not so, says Chris Paulitz, spokesman for Hutchison. "Only people who don't know wine would say that. There are fine wines made in Texas. When people think about Texas, one of the things they should be thinking about is Texas wine." Both senators claim to be confident about the game's outcome, but in that case, why are they only betting a bottle? Unfiltered urges the two to get serious and up the wager to a case.
• We like a happy ending … Montana winery owners Andy Sponseller and Connie Poten believe that when life gives you lemons, turn them into publicity. The owners of Rattlesnake Creek Vineyard, outside Missoula, recently received an e-mail asking them to change their winery's name. Turns out Portteus Winery in Washington has been making a red blend called Rattlesnake Ridge since 1989. So Sponseller held a name-that-winery contest. After mentions in Unfiltered and in newspapers, more than 1,000 entries arrived by e-mail and phone, including Snattle-Rake Creek Vineyards, Sponseller's Cellars, Baroque'n Chain, Cease and Desist Winery, Gossamer Rhino and Snakebit Lawyer. One contestant suggested Gallo Wines, adding, "Why not piss off a really big winery?" Poten, Sponseller and several friends whittled the list down to 10, checked to see if any were trademarked (several were) and chose Ten Spoon Vineyard (a sort of combination of their last names), which they felt was the catchiest. Frederik Kreutzer, chief wine expert for Taster Wine, Denmark's largest wholesaler and distributor, sent in the winning suggestion. Now the Montana duo just has to figure out how to send Kreutzer his prize—a case of Ten Spoon wines every year for life.