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Mystique, Aura Shroud Derek Jeter's Pinot Noir

Plus, Giuliana Rancic brings wine by the glass to Walmart, the wine industry builds a much-needed high school in Bordeaux, and new Burgundian investments in Oregon

Posted: September 18, 2014

• Wine and baseball lovers were atwitter this month over a photo of soon-to-be-retired New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and his Sports Illustrated swimsuit model girlfriend Hannah Davis in which the two appear to be lugging home just a few of the many gifts bestowed on No. 2 on Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium Sept. 7, part of the Captain's farewell tour. One of the gifts pictured is a magnum of Torii Mor Anden Vineyard Pinot Noir from Oregon, with a modified label featuring the iconic Yankee Stadium frieze. Which is where the mystery arises: Unfiltered's sources at Major League Baseball couldn't confirm that the bottle came from the Yankees, and Torii Mor's staff saw it for the first time when it showed up on the New York Post's Page Six. "We are thrilled that Torii Mor was chosen to commemorate a special celebration for such a well-respected athlete," Monique Bailey, director of sales and marketing for Torii Mor, told Unfiltered. "And it’s always nice to see an appreciation for Oregon wines outside of the Northwest." For now, the origins of the special-edition label remain shrouded in the aura of Yankees mystique, but it's clear that Jeter is drinking well as he enters retirement: In June, at Derek Jeter Day in Oakland, the Athletics presented him with a personalized double magnum of Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Madrona Ranch 2009. We presume that he's also earned a lifetime supply of Yankees Finger Lakes Riesling.

• Here at Unfiltered, we love TV personalities almost as much as we love wines with personality, and they occasionally make for some very popular pairings (Hello, Skinnygirl). Throw in some innovative new packaging and we're tuning in. XO, G wines, from E! News anchor and Fashion Police co-host Giuliana Rancic, will premiere this November in Walmarts across the country. The $10 Italian Pinot Grigio and southern France Pinot Noir and rosé come packaged in four single-serving 187ml StackTek polymer resin stemless wineglasses. If XO, G just sounds like more of that new-fangled hashtag gibberish all the kids are using, you're not far off: It's how Rancic, who won the social media-driven Daytime Emmy Award for Fan Favorite this summer, signs messages to her 5 million followers on Twitter and Instagram. "It was perfect for my lifestyle. I'm a mom and Bill [her husband and winner of Season 1 of The Apprentice] travels, so at the end of the day, I want a glass of wine," she told Good Morning America. "I found myself not opening the bottle of wine because I didn't want to waste it. I'm not going to drink a whole bottle by myself." Rancic's fans will soon learn if years of ripping celebrities for having poor taste on Fashion Police will translate into good taste in Walmart's wine aisles.

• The Lycée Saint Jean de Pauillac opened its doors to its first 42 students earlier this month in a project that the Bordeaux wine community hopes will foster local talent. Twenty châteaus in Pauillac, St.-Estèphe and St.-Julien as well as négoicants Millésima and Duclot raised $3.2 million to build the much-needed high school. “Jean-Michel Cazes asked us all to help. He does so much for the area and this school,” Lilian-Barton Sartorius, owner of Château Léoville Barton, told Unfiltered. (Cazes sold wine at a Hong Kong auction to finance an annual exchange between French students at Saint Jean and Chinese students.) Saint Jean already has a small but well-respected primary and middle school, but the only nearby lycée has been ranked the worst in the entire Aquitaine region for 20 years. “The school fills a gap in the schooling for children so they don’t have to go back to Bordeaux for their studies,” said Barton-Sartorius. But how to fund a new school during an economic downturn? “We were able to get government approval, because of the innovative, digital aspect of the project,” said Cazes, owner of Château Lynch Bages, who led the fund-raising effort started in 2011. The state-of-the-art classrooms are equipped with laptops, tablets, WiFi, e-textbooks, and interactive video-projectors. The school is private, but per French custom, it follows the national curriculum, so the government pays the salaries of the teachers and staff, leaving annual tuition under $1,300.

Jean-Nicolas Méo, owner of Méo-Camuzet in Vosne-Romanée, is the latest Burgundy producer to dip a toe into Oregon, with the purchase of Bishop Creek Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton District. Erath and Bishop Creek have bottled single-vineyard wines from this 6-acre site, in the hills between the towns of Yamhill and Gaston, which has 15 acres under vine, mostly Pinot Noir planted on its own roots along with 2 acres of Pinot Gris and a few rows of Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Arneis, Syrah and Grüner Veltliner. Jay Boberg, Méo's U.S. partner, confirmed the purchase. A longtime wine collector, Boberg said he got interested in Oregon through a friendship with Domaine Drouhin general manager David Millman, but this isn't Boberg's first vineyard. Before partnering with Méo, he owned and sold vines in Calistoga, Calif., and was a minority partner in the original group that started Chapter 24 and Maison l'Envoyé in Oregon. Last year, Méo did a test run of eight barrels using grapes from Maresh Vineyard, also in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, and explored a range of Oregon Pinot Noir vineyards. He zeroed in on seven from which to buy grapes to make about 2,000 cases in 2014. Adam Smith, winemaker of Eisold-Smith, was hired to make and maintain the wines at the Adelsheim winery.

Tom Miller
Birmingham, AL —  September 22, 2014 3:57pm ET
The original Maresh Vineyard is on Worden Hill Road in the Dundee Hills AVA. Is Meo using a new Maresh Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA?

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