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Nicki Minaj Gets into the Moscato Myx

Plus, rapper E-40 starts a wine label, Champagne gets protected status in China, and more

Posted: June 6, 2013

• "If I'm sippin' in the club, Myx Moscato," raps Nicki Minaj on the new Ciara song "I'm Out." And that's about all you need to know about the American Idol judge's new job as spokesperson for Myx Fusions, of which she is also a part owner. Myx is packaged in single-serve 6-ounce screw-capped bottles, and come in three iterations: Original Moscato, Coconut & Moscato and Peach & Moscato, each priced at $4 a bottle. "I am so excited to team with the Myx brand," Minaj said in a press release. "I have no doubt that it will be No. 1. It's a great-tasting, amazing product that people will love. It's not even a hard sell. Myx Fusions gives us an opportunity to revolutionize the wine industry." The Trinidad and Tobago-born, Queens, N.Y.-raised star is no stranger to sparkling wine. Champagne flutes and wineglasses make regular appearances in the pop star's music videos, from "Super Bass," where the stemware is filled with a very Ghostbusters II-looking evil pink ectoplasm, to "Right Thru Me," where Minaj hurls empty wineglasses at her disrespectful lover, presumably because they haven't been filled with Moscato.

Earl Stevens, better known as rapper E-40, is testing his flow in the wine game as well, with the introduction of Earl Stevens Selections. The first offerings are set to be a red blend and a mango Moscato. Unless you're an avid follower of hip hop, you may not have heard of E-40, a popular fixture in the Bay Area rap scene. But you probably have heard someone embarrass themselves by saying “fo’ sheezy,” or “fo’ shizzle,” both of which the 45-year-old is credited with creating, along with plenty of other hip-hop slang. Stevens has added vintner to his repertoire, capitalizing on the recent trend of Moscato-laden lyrics, and joins a growing list of hip hop tastemakers such as Fergie (Ferguson Crest), Lil Jon (Little Jonathan Winery) and St. Lunatics (Freaky Muscato), who have decided to not just rhyme about wine, but sell it. Stevens has been quite the articulate aficionado in recent years, teaming up with Saturday Night Live regulars The Lonely Island, recording a spoof on Carlos Santana's DVX sparkling wine, and in 2010 released a song titled "Carlos Rossi," which Unfiltered will refrain from quoting, but the takeaway here is that Moscato has become the unofficial drink of choice for many in the hip-hop generation (see Minaj, Nicki). Last year, we reported on “Moscato Mania,” noting that it was the No. 3 white wine in the United States, ahead of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Proof that hip hop is directly affecting Moscato sales? Fo' shizzle.

• Champagne producers recently won protection for their geographical brand under Chinese law, with Beijing joining 100 other countries who agree that anything labeled Champagne should come from Champagne. “Champagne has been fighting for a long time to see their name protected,” said Samuel Heitner, spokesperson for the Champagne trade council. Australia gave Champagne IGP protection in 2012, Canada begins in 2014, and Chile in 2015. “The last holdouts are the U.S., Russia, Argentina and Vietnam,” said Heitner. Last year, Champagne shipped more than 25 million cases, and more than 150,000 went to China, a 52 percent increase over the previous year. “It’s best to have the rules set in the beginning in the market so there is no confusion,” said Heitner. “The current domestic market [in China] for sparkling is small," Mark Bedingham, managing director of Moët Hennessy Asia Pacific, told Unfiltered, "Most Champagne brands have a very different image and price point from that of sparkling. The two tend to live independently of each other.” Nor is Champagne cutting into red wine sales. “I don't see Champagne substituting for other products such as red wine or baijiu [a popular distilled spirit]. I believe that Champagne is growing because in modern bars and clubs, younger consumers, especially women, are enjoying the celebratory feeling that Champagne brings to the start of an enjoyable night out amongst friends,” said Bedingham. The new law won’t lock U.S. producers out of the growing market for fizz, but wines like Korbel, which sell California Champagne in the U.S., will have to be labeled "sparkling wine" in China. Currently, Champagne is the more lucrative label, but the sparkling wine market will be getting a major push from Moët Hennessy when they open their Chandon sparkling wine winery in Ningxia this month.

Unfiltered loves pets, whether they’re protecting vineyard grapes from predators or drinking out of wineglasses. We also love great photos, and wine (obviously), so our whiskers twitched (sorry) when we heard about the Humane Society of New York’s upcoming photography auction. To be held June 13 at the Marianne Boesky Gallery, the event will benefit the society’s veterinary clinic and adoption center, as attendees bid on prints from the likes of Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, William Wegman and Milton H. Greene, while sipping wines donated by Louis Dressner, VOS, Sherry-Lehmann, Best Bottles, Joel Gott, Korbel and Herradura and snacking on hors d'oeuvres (vegan, of course) from chairwoman and caterer Cornelia Guest. Look for honorary chairs George Stephanapoulos of ABC News and his wife, actress and author Alexandra Wentworth, whose own dog, Daisy, was adopted from HSNY, and special guest, animal lover and actress Ali McGraw.

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