• When Fergie (the Black-Eyed Pea, not the Duchess) got married to actor Josh Duhamel earlier this month, Frank Family Chardonnay Napa Valley 2007 and Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005 were served to her wedding guests, including a gaggle of celebrities—Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Kate Hudson, Penelope Cruz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, to name a few. Since the wine was ordered by the caterer and not personally by the pop star, Frank Family winemaker Todd Graff said that when the news came out his wine was served, "It was a surprise to us as much as anyone else." The "Big Girls Don't Cry" singer is hardly the first celebrity paired with Frank Family—founder Rich Frank is a former Disney executive who still has a foot in the entertainment world, and he's brought such stars as Oprah, Teri Hatcher and Geena Davis to Auction Napa Valley.
• Jacques Gravegeal, the president of the Vins de Pays d'Oc wine syndicate, took a swipe at Coca-Cola and the French government's recent stand against wine this month in an open letter addressed to Roselyne Bachelot, France's Minister for Health. He called her attention to a recipe published in Elle à Table, a magazine that promotes French gastronomy. This month's edition ran an item on how to make Coca-Cola pork spareribs. The recipe was a bit hard to swallow for Gravegeal, who accused the publication of fraternizing with the enemy to attract a new source of advertising revenue at a time when much of the French wine business is in the doldrums. He asked the minister "What next? Suggesting to serve Pasta Red Bull at high school cafeterias?" He went on to point out that their government should back the wine industry, as tourists come to France to visit vineyards and châteaus, not Coke factories. Last but not least he suggested that Bachelot have the recipe analyzed for its nutritional value and calorie count, as it doesn't sound particularly healthy … Unfiltered is staying out of the scrum, but we will say we prefer our spareribs braised in a nice Côtes du Rhône.
• And that wasn't the only slight to befall the makers of Coca-Cola across the pond this month. British supermarket chain Somerfield has been having a tough time with its Champagne stocks. The grocer was targeted by some discerning thieves in the overnight disappearance of nine pallets of bargain bubbly, Nicole d'Aurigny, worth $55,000, from the back of a transport truck that was parked off the interstate. Mersey police say the thieves removed the wine by hand, in what would have been plain view, for an extended period of time. But that wasn't the only truck they broke into—another nearby truck stocked with cases of Coca-Cola was left untouched when the thieves discovered its contents. (Unfiltered wonders why after recently paying the shocking sum of 8 euros for a bottle of Coke in France …)
• In another brazen Somerfield robbery, two men walked into the grocery store in Rutland, England, filled their cart with around $600 worth of wine and liquor, including two bottles of Veuve Clicquot and three bottles of d'Aurigny, and simply walked out. Police have no leads in either case. Unfiltered suggests employing the old bottle of Champagne under a box propped up with a stick trick.
|Beam me up Bierzo.|
• It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a … satellite calculating the area of vineyards in Spain! In a development likely to interest technophiles and enophiles alike, researchers from local universities in Bierzo, the wine-producing region in northwestern Spain, say they've developed a program to map agricultural activities in the region, with the ability to distinguish vineyards from other crops. Using photographs taken by an electromagnetic spectrum camera, the scientists can also determine the density of the grape production in vineyards. This will help in making future predictions of annual Bierzo wine production. Previous satellite photographs of vineyards were limited in the ability to map vineyards, with borders needing to be filled in by hand. The newly developed software does away with such pains by applying a series of algorithms, which analyze the photograph pixel by pixel. The photos can also identify up to 18 types of surfaces, including roads, irrigation systems, pastures and forests for macroeconomic purposes. The study was published in the Jan. 13 issue of the Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research.
• Unfiltered has seen its fair share of interesting and unique ways to recycle and reuse empty wine bottles, but when it comes to reusing corks, the ideas tend to be more mundane—think cork bulletin boards, trivets and holiday wreaths. But instead of re-gifting or tossing out those old corks, a new program called ReCORK America is trying to encourage wine drinkers to recycle them. The pilot program is sponsored by one of the largest producers of natural wine corks, Amorim of Portugal, and its U.S. affiliates. ReCORK is working with Whole Foods Markets in Northern California to place cork collection bins in the wine aisles of 25 selected stores as well as at numerous winery tasting rooms. The donated corks are sent to ReCORK, which either sends them to Portugal for recycling or finds local groups that will reuse them. The recycled corks can be turned into shoe soles, flooring, insulation and various other products. Unfiltered applauds the environmentally friendly program, but ReCORK doesn't accept synthetic closures, and we wonder what everyone should do with those increasingly popular screw caps.