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2,000-Year-Old Cannabis Wine Discovered; Lost Body of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Found … in Wine Cellar

Plus, we got a sneak preview of the new Somm movie from its director, and the d'Arenberg Cube goes extra surreal
The ancient partaker (right) and his pot, in situ
Photo by: Hervé Delhoofs, Evéha
The ancient partaker (right) and his pot, in situ

Posted: April 19, 2018

If you listen to all the talk in California nowadays about the myriad intersections of wine and weed, you'd think they invented the stuff. But actually (if unsurprisingly) the TTB is well behind the curve—more than 2,000 years behind, according to a remarkable new archaeological discovery. Long before the Mendocinian culture disrupted the marijuana-wine space, the ancient Gauls were spiking their own vinum with a substance we still call by its Latin name: Cannabis sativa.

A 2015 excavation near the town of Cébazat in the heart of France (about 100 miles west of Lyon) of a tomb dating to the 2nd century B.C., led by researcher Hervé Delhoofs, yielded an earthenware vessel that once held a most potent potable: Analysis of plant material confirmed the presence of "biomarkers" for wine, resin and THC. Did the Gauls simply like the taste, or were they interested in a more, well, holistic experience? Researcher Nicolas Garnier told Unfiltered both "medicinal use or recreational use" were possible, and that the ethanol in wine made it a more efficient substance for infusion than water. "The wine-based medicinal preparations are common," he explained via email. "Different recipes of many plants have been identified in tombs."

The jar is on display at the Bargoin Museum, in Clermont-Ferrand, through May 20, alongside other paraphernalia found in the tomb, and the remains of the unknown bon vivant.


Crying-Laughing Emoji: Remains of 19th-Century Literary Giant Samuel Taylor Coleridge Accidentally Found in Former Wine Cellar

Wine, wine, everywhere, but not a drop to drink—for renowned English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, because his body was just found in a wine cellar but he has been dead since 1834.

Coleridge—some guy who only founded the English Romantic movement, wrote the genre-defining lyrical ballad "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and canon-enshrined "Kubla Khan," and introduced into the English language now-universal idioms like having an albatross around one's neck and the "water, water, everywhere" thing—somehow got misplaced after his death, you see. In 1834, the poet was buried close to his home (which happens to now be owned by supermodel Kate Moss) in a vault at the Highgate School Chapel in London. But due to deteriorating conditions of the vault, in 1961, his coffin—along with those of four of his family members—was moved to the nearby St. Michael's Church. There was a big to-do for the reburial, with an ecclesiastic "translation" ceremony, featuring then-U.K. poet laureate and now-fellow Good Place resident John Masefield.

But despite Coleridge's very public reburial and the whole thing about him being a leading figure in the English literary tradition, 57 years later, no one could seem to recall where exactly he and his family had been laid to rest. According to church steward Drew Clode, who spoke to London newspaper Ham & High, "memories dimmed and there was uncertainty about where the entombment occurred," and the culture wars' attack on the Western Canon claimed another victim.

Happily, during a recent excavation of the church, the crypt was rediscovered behind a brick wall. The rubble-strewn room had once been a wine cellar for the historic Ashurst House, which was partly demolished and repurposed into St. Michael's Church in the early 1830s. Now that memories have been jogged, the church plans to give the family a more proper final resting place.

"Neither the wine cellar, the tomb-area itself, nor the crypt in its entirety are fit for the purpose entrusted to us of caring for the remains of this great poet and his family in a proper and fitting way," reads a press release issued by St. Michael's Church. So on June 2, the church is hosting a #ColeridgeDay fundraiser, with tours and recitals, now that all involved are sadder but wiser (another Colerism) for the discovery.


Behind the Scenes on Forthcoming 'Somm 3: Judgment Day'

In the first film, a team of scrappy underdogs with grit and heart must face a formidable local adversary; in the second, their talents are tested on the world stage. But is it enough to prepare the gang for what challenges await in part three of the Mighty Ducks Somm series?

A refresher: The 2013 indie documentary Somm, which followed four wine pros through their grueling preparation to face off against the Master Sommelier exam, became an unexpected breakout success; it was followed up by 2015's Somm: Into the Bottle, a dive into a world of vineyards and cellars. Now, we've learned filming has wrapped on a third Somm docu, unofficially slated for release toward the end of the year (called it?). Director Jason Wise told Unfiltered this installment "goes back to the people" who helped, and continue to help, shape the modern wine scene, like Judgment of Paris MC Steven Spurrier and British wine scribe Jancis Robinson, with appearances from some of the original Somm crew as well, seven years on. “Wine itself is not the most interesting thing on its own,” said Wise. “Wine is so fascinating and is what it is because of everything that exists peripherally, and there’s a lot of great personalities within wine.”

Courtesy of Jason Wise
From left, DLynn Proctor, Steven Spurrier and Madeline Puckette consider the Clos du Val.

Like the second Somm, this one's a globetrotter, filmed in New York and Napa, Paris, London and Portugal, and while details of the plot are yet to come, Wise divulged to Unfiltered that viewers could expect “a not-so-secret [tasting], and then a very secret tasting, that happens in this film.

“I’m very proud of this movie. It’s a lot of fun but it’s also got a lot of important topics in it that the wine industry needs to deal with.”


D’Arenberg Cube Hosts Real Weird 'Surrealist Ball' for a Right Good Cause

The Tasting Australia food-and-wine festival kicked off Friday, April 13, but the ghouls didn't come out to play until the following night at the d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, which threw a Surrealist Ball spookstravaganza. This place had everything: kangaroo tartare, "magic mushroom," rabbit DJs, baby bellhops, vintner/Cubelord Chester Osborn dressed as the Joker and Mad Hatter and "lots of Pollyanna Polly," as he told Unfiltered.

Surrealist Ball Surrealist Ball Surrealist Ball Surrealist Ball Surrealist Ball Surrealist Ball

Local chefs prepped canapés and small plates for the 250-plus partygoers, but the wines starred. "It was an amazing night," Osborn said via email. In addition to the bubbly (that's d'Arenberg's Pollyanna Polly cuvée), he opened "many of our 72 current and back-vintage wines," including a jeroboam of the winery's flagship Dead Arm Shiraz label from the 2003 vintage and some choice French and Italian pours. "Everyone made a huge effort to dress up and fit in to the surrealist Cube and its inners."

On a more serious note, the bash benefits the festival's charity partner, OzHarvest, a food-saving organization that receives excess from more than 3,000 outlets around the country and distributes it to charities. Tasting Australia continues through April 22, with OzHarvest offering recovered-food dishes on a donation basis at the festival's hub in Adelaide's Victoria Square.


Moët Hennessy USA Enters 'Snack Pack' Segment in National Volunteer Week Partnership with City Harvest

French luxury goods titan LVMH has always provided for the Big Apple, and not just with brunch Champagne. The company's latest charitable endeavor in New York is a partnership with City Harvest, an organization that delivers food to low-income residents, and it kicked off April 17 with a volunteer drive to assemble snack packs for 7,000 preschoolers. That was just an appetizer—in honor of National Volunteer Week—to next week's main event, an April 24 City Harvest gala at Cipriani honoring Chrissy Teigen, José Andrés and other superstar humanitarians. The fundraiser brought in nearly $2.7 million last year.

"We are an organization that highly values our commitment to philanthropy, community and sustainability, which fully aligns with the mission of City Harvest, whose Healthy Neighborhoods programs make it possible for us to make a difference," said Jim Clerkin, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy North America, in a press release.


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