Unfiltered

Country star Keith Urban gets an offer he can refuse, wine glasses for dogs, a mammoth in a tasting room, a new castle in Napa and some seriously hideous wine-themed fashion
May 23, 2007

• Just as it's not a particularly good idea to give a giant Hershey bar to a diabetic, it's somewhat bad form to offer an alcoholic alcohol (anyone see The Sopranos lately?). Well, on May 20, country singer and recovering alcoholic--is it even possible to be one and not the other?--Keith Urban was flying from Sydney to Adelaide on Qantas Airways when a flight attendant presented him with a bottle of red. "This was a customer-relations gesture by an individual staff member who genuinely did not realize who the passenger was," an airline spokesperson told Unfiltered. Urban good-naturedly declined the gift, according to his publicist, Paul Freundlich, who scoffed at the media hype over the airline's "blunder" (as The Daily Telegraph in Sydney put it). "I was unaware that it was so far out of left field, so unusual for a [flight attendant] to offer passengers wine," said Freundlich. "Keith declined as I've personally seen him do many, many times." Apparently it was a slow news week Down Under. If Russell Crowe declined, however, now that would be news.

You've most likely chosen stemware based on your dining companions. The stemless tumblers for your klutzy nephew. The Burgundy Riedels for entertaining your boss. Now, London-based designer Alice Wang has created a set of stemware specifically for drinking wine with a best friend--man's best friend, actually. For about $50 you get two glasses: a regular one for you and one with a tilted bowl atop a sturdy, shortened stem for your pooch. The set is part of a larger Pets Plus collection that also includes modified plates and pillows. We know you wouldn't pour out the good stuff for your dog (right?), but just be sure to toast with something non-alcoholic when dining with Fido. The ASPCA considers alcohol to be a hazard for pets.

 
Next they'll open a tasting room at the Museum of Natural History.
• It would appear that prehistory is suddenly all the rage. Back in March a complete fossil of a whale was discovered in a vineyard in Italy. It turns out, however, that this isn't the only sizeable specimen to call a winery home. A full mammoth skeleton, measuring 12.5 feet by 16.5 feet, tusks and all, was purchased about a year ago by Montfrin, a Rhône Valley cooperative winery, for $246,000, and is now on display in the tasting room (the price included assembly of the skeleton in the winery's tasting room by a team of Russian paleontologists). Montfrin is going all the way with the mammoth theme, even on the labels of its Côtes du Rhône, Costières de Nîmes and Vin de Pays wines. Far from its native Siberia, Montfrin's new tenant was brought in to help attract more tourists, said winery president Michel Allemand. There are plenty around--the winery is located south of Avignon, and just a few miles from the Roman Pont du Gard aqueduct, one of France's most popular sites (1.4 million visitors per year). Basically, the investment is a case of acknowledging the elephant in the room--the winery needed a new marketing strategy to rekindle its wine sales.

• Napa vintner Daryl Sattui, whose V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena is a huge draw to Napa tourists, has opened a new winery, up the road in Calistoga and now open to the public (by appointment only). It's a winery-meets-Hearst-Castle medieval-style facility that took 14 years and $30 million to build. It boasts more than 100 rooms and eight levels (and a moat!). "Great European wines have been made in castles throughout history so I wanted to continue in that tradition," said Sattui. "I've long had a passion for medieval architecture." He's not kidding. There's even a dungeon room with a 15th-century iron maiden, not to mention original frescos and sculptures, as well as a 135-foot-long barrel room. Sattui is making about 8,000 cases per year there, and among those who've already stopped in for a tour are football icon Carmen Policy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Gov. George Pataki of New York and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. All seem to have survived the torture chamber.

 
Hey ladies, I've been tested and I don't have TCA.
• Unfiltered is always on top of the latest fashion trends. Today we present the future of formal wear: the Corkxedo, a tuxedo fashioned from the entirely renewable resource of cork. Conceived of, designed and hand "sewn" by Los Angeles wine lover Dave Hamilton, the top hat, cane and jacket took an estimated 800 man-hours to put together and is composed of nearly 900 corks (everything from Two Buck Chuck to 1935 Lynch-Bages). Hamilton assured Unfiltered he had already come up with the idea--while relaxing in a Jacuzzi, no less--before Robert Mondavi donned a cork jacket at the Napa Valley Auction in 2005, which Jay Leno auctioned off for $95,000. Hamilton has worn the Corkxedo to numerous wine auctions and events, as well as to the annual Burning Man festival, and has yet to need to replace a cork (though he does admit that as he mingles at events, the Corkxedo tends to "squeak like an old car"). Hamilton estimates the size 44 jacket's value to be in the $35,000 to $40,000 range, and is open to the idea of auctioning it off. Unfiltered isn't sure we'd make a bid on it, but we have personally volunteered to wear the Corkxedo for David Letterman's next "Will It Float?" segment.

 
This tie came in third place, but did win a Village People design contest.
• As rock 'n' roll is to blue jeans and French impressionism is to berets, Napa Cabernet is to … neck-ties. Wait, what? Menswear designer Thom Browne and Janet Myers, winemaker at Franciscan, (among others) recently picked the winners in the inaugural Franciscan Signature Style Competition, in which recent design-school grads submitted tie prototypes for an opportunity to win $5,000. The winning entries proved that the line between classy and kitschy is quite thin. Some, like contest winner Ariana Massouh went straight to the bottle for inspiration, with her winning Escher-esque print of wine bottle tessellations. Others, like third-place winner Charles Sharp took a more conceptual route, with his "decant"-neckwear that zips up instead of, well, ties. Unfiltered has a late entry: something in a dark red color that's stain-proof. Genius, we know.

 

 

 

Unfiltered

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