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The Calendar Girls of Austrian Wine

Plus, a $100,000 Côte-Rôtie wine heist in France, and Napa viticulturist Herb Lamb dies at 64

Posted: December 18, 2014

• Unfiltered is pleased to report, just in time for last-minute holiday gifts, that Austria's winemaking bombshells are back for the annual Young Female Winemakers Calendar. Since 2004, Ellen Ledermüller-Reiner has been recruiting lovely liebfrauen from vineyards and cellars around the country to strip down for sexy poses in vinous settings, from vineyards to vat rooms, in the Jungwinzerinnen Kalender. The ladies—clad in classy unterwäsche—have so far proved a most effective way to promote the country's equally gorgeous Grüners. Ledermüller-Reiner explains the calendars bring, well, visibility, to the "young generation. Each year more calendars go abroad. The slogan is: young, sexy and successful." Her company now sells 4,000 copies of the calendar a year and has included gals from most of the country's winemaking regions. The 2015 Kalendar features Monika Mörwald of Weingut Mörwald, decanters in hands; Veronika Schafler of Weingut Schaflerhof under a trellis; Teresa Cramer of her family's Weingut Albert with a vine, as well as employees or relatives from Hermann Moser, Haider and more, with Lenz Moser as the yearly sponsor. Ledermüller-Reiner meets the models at tastings and wineries, as well as "winemakers or wine experts [who] give me hints about beautiful girls within a winemaker family." Unfiltered also learned that alums of near-nackt wein-fotografie include the "son of the sweet winemaker family Kracher [and] the son of F.X. Pichler" (boys were included for two years). Messrs. Gerhard Kracher and Lucas Pichler are no strangers to the pages of Wine Spectator either, but they never took their clothes off for us. The 2015 Jungwinzerinnen Kalender is priced at about $31 and can be ordered from Ledermüller-Reiner's Kreativ Consulting.

• Before dawn on Dec. 8, Jean-Francois Garon, owner of Domaine Garon in the French village of Ampuis, walked outside and quickly realized someone had broken through his entrance gates. When he reached the cellars, he saw the doors had been forced. A team of burglars had quietly broken in and loaded 150 cases of Côte-Rôtie, worth upwards of $100,000, into trucks and escaped. “The gendarmes took fingerprints and are investigating,” Kevin Garon told Unfiltered. Curiously, rather than entering the modern cellar, a more obvious target, the thieves headed directly to an old cellar used for preparing shipments. “They didn't end up there by accident. They knew where to go and that the wine was ready,” said Kevin. “For us it was an exception to have so much wine ready for shipment stored over the weekend. Normally we do that midweek.” Four wines were taken: Les Rochins AOC Côte-Rôtie, Les Triotes AOC Côte-Rôtie, La Sybarine Côte-Rôtie and a Vin de France. “It was our 2012 vintage. We started pruning for that wine in 2011, and we were only now starting to earn something for our work,” said Kevin. “When you only produce 30,000 bottles a year, it really hurts to lose 1,800.” The Garon family has been making wine in the village of Ampuis since the 15th century. “The furthest back we’ve found a vigneron in the family was 1475,” he said. This is the first major theft in family memory, but a neighboring estate has not been so lucky. “One estate was burgled three years in a row," Kevin said. "[The thieves] always act quickly, and they’re well-organized.”

Napa agriculturist and vintner Herb Lamb, who sold grapes to Colgin and Karl Lawrence, died Dec. 10. He was 64 years old. “Herb Lamb had a big heart, a big love of life and was a generous and gregarious soul,” said Ann Colgin. “He helped me get started in the wine business over two decades ago and he will always have a special place in my heart.” Born in Vallejo, Calif., Lamb’s family moved to Napa in 1958. He became interested in farming during high school and joined the Coast Guard while majoring in soil sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He returned to Napa in the mid-1970s, starting a vineyard-consulting business at a time when Napa’s wines were gaining worldwide attention. In 1983, he cofounded Napa Valley Ag Supply, one of the first agriculture chemical businesses in the valley. Well-respected for his knowledge of the local soils and growers, Lamb served on the early board of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, as well as several service organizations.

Herb and his wife, Jennifer, purchased a small property in the foothills of Howell Mountain, east of St. Helena in 1987. Recognizing its potential for cool-climate Cabernet Sauvignon, he planted a 7-acre vineyard there the following year, and sold the grapes to local vintners. When Colgin opened a winery in the early 1990s, her then winemaker, Helen Turley, helped her secure grapes from the Lambs' vineyard to make their first Cabernet. The winery continued to make an Herb Lamb Vineyard bottling until 2007, and the wines were notably rich and deeply concentrated with several achieving classic ratings (95 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale). The Lambs became vintners in 1997 when they launched their own Cabernet brand, HL Vineyards, and its companion label, Two Old Dogs. Herb is survived by his wife, his sister, Nancy Lamb, and his two daughters, Meghan and Melissa.

David Williams
Carlsbad CA —  December 18, 2014 4:19pm ET
" Unfiltered is PLEASED to report, just in time for last-minute holiday gifts, that Austria's winemaking bombshells are back for the annual Young Female Winemakers Calendar."

Jim Mason
St. John's, Canada —  December 19, 2014 8:06am ET
Not sure my wife would approve of this hanging in the wine cellar.
Rich Meier
Reno, NV —  December 21, 2014 3:39pm ET
I was caught reading unfiltered.

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