Unfiltered

Celebrities (and Alec Baldwin) begin award-show-wine-sipping season, a giant bottle of Aussie wine and a giant price paid for a Canadian wine
Jan 24, 2007

• Celebrities have it so rough during awards season. After spending hours being attended to on every little detail, they walk the red carpet and preen for paparazzi, and then speak with the fashion police on TV about clothes someone else likely chose for them. There are even people who choose their drinks for them. It's such a tough life. But somehow they manage. Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Vanessa Williams and Alec Baldwin fortified themselves with Moët & Chandon minis during the Golden Globes recently, and on Sunday, Screen Actors Guild Award attendees will drink 2004 Old Vine Zinfandel, 2003 Meritage and 2005 Chardonnay and Fumé Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyards. According to Bill Smart, the winery's marketing manager, the actors in attendance will down 600 bottles, estimated at $12,570 retail, during the four-hour, televised event. In the past, Pierce Brosnan and Halle Barry have favored the Fumé Blanc, Smart said. After all, no self-respecting celebrity--wait, are there any?--would be caught dead on the red carpet with purple teeth.

Ilan Hall is a line cook at Casa Mono in New York and one of Top Chef's outspoken finalists, competing to win $100,000 toward the opening of his own restaurant. But while Hall's been grabbing screen time in pursuit of glory, his boss recently took part in an international culinary competition and won, without the benefit of television cameras, scantily clad hostesses or bad behavior. As Unfiltered reported last month, Casa Mono chef-owner Andy Nusser and sommelier Nancy Selzer represented the United States in the second annual Copa Jerez International competition in Jerez, Spain. For their pairing of higados con cinco cebollas (seared foie gras with five onions) and Gonzales Byass Apostoles Palo Cortado VORS, team USA walked away with top honors in the medium Sherry category of the competition. "It was incredibly gratifying to compete on a world stage with passionate professionals," said Selzer. "It was the opposite of reality television. Everyone was respectful toward each other, there was no backbiting or trying to screw each other over … we were among a very nice group of people." No wonder the competition wasn't televised.

 
One Australian man could drink the whole thing, actually.
• The monster bottle of wine on Wall Street last Friday wasn't a leftover float from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a 64-gallon, 1,300-pound bottle of Five Virtues Shiraz, conceived of by Kim Bullock, owner of North Road Liquor in Albany, and shipped to Manhattan for a whopping $11,000 (round-trip). The occasion: a "G'Day USA: Australian Week" event at Cipriani. (It reportedly took a dozen body-builder types to haul it into the Wall Street restaurant.) The Shiraz is a blend of grapes from 11 different producers in the country's Great Southern wine region, and if poured, it would fill 1,935 wineglasses, according to Bullock. In 2005, it was crowned the largest bottle of wine by the Guinness Book of World Records, creaming the previous title-holder, a 34-gallon bottle of Cabernet from Beringer in August 2004. While Beringer auctioned off its bottle for charity, it sounds like Bullock isn't planning on parting with his anytime soon. As he told the New York Daily News, "I've gotten lots of offers for it, and I've turned down one for $100,000."

• What's the hottest wine in the world? For one unnamed Saudi businessman, it's a rare bottle of ice wine. This mysterious Saudi paid just over $25,000 (CAN$30,000) for a 375ml bottle of Royal DeMaria 2000 Chardonnay Ice Wine from the Niagara Peninsula of Canada. It's the highest price ever paid for any ice wine, for any Canadian wine, or for a wine of any type produced in the 2000 vintage. Winemaker Joseph DeMaria produced 425 half-bottles of the wine, and released it for sale in 2001 at $80. The following year, it was one of five Royal DeMaria ice wines to win a Citadelles trophy at VinExpo. Sudden demand convinced DeMaria to create a "collector series" for any multiple gold medal-winning wine whose stock slipped below five dozen. He then boosted the Chardonnay's price to CAN$2,000 last fall, with only 32 bottles left, DeMaria made it CAN$30,000, not expecting to sell one anytime soon. Within days, the call came in and the talks began. As for the secretive Saudi, DeMaria said, "Everyone says Saudis don't drink, but Christians aren't supposed to have premarital sex either. Perhaps he bought it to resell, or perhaps it was a gift for a friend." Lucky friend.

• As Babe Ruth is to baseball, so is Robert Mondavi to wine. So if there's going to be a Vintners Hall of Fame, there's got to be a place for Robert Mondavi. And there is. On March 9, the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., is having its first annual induction dinner, and Robert Mondavi is to be honored as the Pioneer Inductee. Eight other members of the Vintners Hall of Fame will be announced as well, based on voting by 70 American wine journalists. Rumor has it that Mark McGwire didn't get enough votes here, either.

Unfiltered

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