• During long business trips, every traveler likes to have the comforts of home with them. For actor and American-expat-in-France Johnny Depp, that means French wine. Depp has made no secret of his love for wine, particularly Bordeaux. He's told reporters that Cheval-Blanc, Pétrus and Château Calon-Ségur are some of his favorites, and he and longtime partner Vanessa Paradis own a vineyard in the Côtes de Provence, where they make their own wine. The actor is currently in Illinois, filming Public Enemies, a '30s gangster flick in which Depp plays John Dillinger. Apparently he didn't find what he was looking for in the old bootlegging capital's liquor stores, so he shipped in his own booty and had 10 cases of wine sent to him from France. According to media sources, the cases included some Pétrus and his own wine from Plan de la Tour. No word on whether he shared anything in his care package with his costars Christian Bale, Billy Crudup or, most appropriately, Oscar-winning Frenchwoman Marion Cotillard.
Slightly more appealing than the Chinese cactus wine we told you about a few weeks ago.
• Perhaps one of the reasons that the wine-auction market hasn't tumbled along with the U.S. stock market is that wealthy Chinese wine lovers are willing to pay top dollar for rare wines. On April 19, a private wine buyer from China paid the highest price yet for a single lot of Domaine de la Romanée Conti. The anonymous buyer spent $500,000 for a total of 27 bottles, which included a case of 1978 Romanée-Conti, two bottles each of the 1961, 1966, 1996 and 2003 vintages, as well as single bottles of 1981, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2001 and 2002. While half a million bucks may seem like a lot of money, even for fine wine, DRC auctions are notorious for reaching dizzying heights, and Unfiltered also noticed that, at 27 bottles, this "single lot" is larger by half than all previous record-breaking lots of DRC. Stephen Williams, managing director of the Antique Wine Company, which handled the sale, said the deal was unusual in that it showed that the Chinese were gaining an interest in fine French wines from outside Bordeaux, and also unusual in that the wine was sourced from an American, not French, cellar.
• Earth Day may have been last week, but Unfiltered is on the case year-round. First we showed you how to recycle your prized empties by planting your used bottles; now we've found a wine that comes with something to plant alongside it: wildflowers. Kunde Estate's newly released Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma Valley Magnolia Lane 2007 is being sold with a bottleneck tag that's suitable for planting. The tag is made of recycled paper, printed with soy ink, with a mix of gaillardia, catchfly, wallflower, Chinese hocus and baby blue eyes seeds embedded in the paper so the entire tag can be planted in the ground. We recently tried the wine and found it light-bodied and refreshing, with notes of lime, grapefruit and jalapeño—but with no lingering wildflower aromas.
• Just when you thought that wine had already been served in every type of packaging imaginable, along comes a merchant house with a Bordeaux-to-go in a sippy box designed to mimic the effect of drinking from a glass. And not just any Bordeaux négociant. The idea is the brainchild of Cordier Mestrezat Grands Crus, an up-market establishment founded over a hundred years ago whose top-flight wines sometimes fetch four figures. Their cheap and cheerful brand of portable wine, called Tandem, is a generic Bordeaux, available in red, white or rosé, packaged in an 8.5-ounce Tetra Pak and sold with a four-holed straw that effectively sprays the wine into your mouth, which, according to the company, imitates the sensation of drinking from a glass. Which makes us wonder: How did we miss the introduction of Riedel's spray-gun glass?
Look, we colored inside the lines!
• And, speaking of wine packaging inspired by children's products, there's now a wine coloring book, for those of you feeling nostalgic for the smell (and in Unfiltered's case, taste) of crayons. Julian's Vineyard Adventures, from the author of The Grapes Grow Sweet, chronicles the story of 4-year-old Julian as he experiences grapegrowing in his family's vineyard from dormancy to harvest. Publisher and grapegrower Corinne Reichel conceptualized and wrote the text for the 20-page coloring book, which features a story and illustration for each month of the year. Nearly 30 U.S. wineries are selling the book, including Napa's V. Sattui and Artesa, and Sonoma's Chateau St. Jean, Landmark and Sebastiani. With the line between childrens' products and adults' being continually blurred, Unfiltered can't help but wonder what's next: Winemaker Barbie and Ken? Decant Me Elmo? Pinot-scented Play Doh? (Actually, we'd be open to that last one …)