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The NFL's Wine-Fueled Viking

Plus, Vladimir Putin's visit to a Crimean winery leads to embezzlement allegations, Swiss vintners claim fungicide damaged vineyards, and a California parish makes Communion wine from a graveyard
Photo by: MSA/Icon Sportswire
Terence Newman takes a break from the game to think about which wine to open later.

Posted: September 24, 2015

Success as a professional athlete requires natural talent, a dedicated work ethic, opportunity, luck and … a steady supply of Cabernet? According to Minnesota Vikings cornerback Terence Newman, regular red wine consumption makes for a lengthy NFL career. At 37, Newman is the oldest cornerback in the league and recently revealed his secret to longevity with a reporter from a local newspaper. "Red wine is key," he told the Twin Cities' Pioneer Press. "Get it in your veins, baby. Keeps you strong."

Unfiltered immediately wanted to know more about Newman's unorthodox training regimen. "I don't know if it's necessarily true," he confessed to Unfiltered, "But I do enjoy a glass or two or four during the week and, for some reason, I've thought that it actually helps me." The former Dallas Cowboy and Cincinnati Bengal favors a wide range of wines from Napa and Sonoma, citing DuMol, Jordan, Meomi, Silver Oak and Opus One as his favorite producers. He's open to exploring Merlots and Cabernets from other regions, but you won't see him drinking Sauvignon Blanc anytime soon. "I'm pretty married to the red," he said.

As an athlete, Newman may be on to something with his red wine fidelity. A recent study found that a compound in red wine may help you recover from a hard workout, and Unfiltered readers will remember that New York Knicks star Amar'e Stoudemire actually bathes in the stuff. More research is needed on the subject, but for now, we think Newman can feel good about relaxing with a glass of Pinot—he's "been on a serious Pinot Noir kick"—while watching Thursday Night Football, a weekly ritual. "I'll have a glass then just kind of relax in the evening and mellow out."

Controversy Follows Vladimir Putin's Visit to a Crimean Winery

Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin enjoyed a wine country jaunt earlier this month with his friend and fellow plutocrat Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy who never says no to a good time. But like many errant wine tourists, the pair got themselves in trouble, or rather, they got the director of Crimean winery Massandra in trouble: Nazar Kholodnytsky, first deputy prosecutor for Crimea (whose authority is a bit limited by the fact that Russia now controls Crimea and Kholodnytsky operates in exile in the Ukraine), is preparing embezzlement charges against Yanina Pavlenko, the Russia-friendly winery's director, the Guardian reported last week.

The crime? Pavlenko allegedly opened a vintage 1775 bottle of Sherry for the two leaders. The Ukrainian prosecutor claims the wine was worth $90,000. The winery, which claims to have the largest wine collection on the planet, was Ukrainian state property until Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. A video of the visit shows Berlusconi picking up a bottle of 1891 and asking, "Is it possible to drink?" ("Yes.") Perhaps Pavlenko was unaware of the hands-off policy, as she has only been at Massandra since February. The previous director, who oversaw 27 vintages of harvest, was fired and charged with fraud. Because in Russia … winegrapes crush YOU!

Swiss Vintners Claim Bayer Fungicide Damaged Vineyards

Grapegrowers in Switzerland cried foul earlier this month, blaming Moon Privilege fungicide from the German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG for severe crop damage during the 2015 harvest. Around 4,900 acres treated with the fungicide produced deformed leaves, desiccated grapes and low yields, and over 900 winemakers blame Bayer CropScience, the company’s crop protection and pest-control branch responsible for the fungicide. A Swiss documentary broadcast by Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) depicted distraught winemakers, some of whom claimed crop damage of up to 80 percent of their total production.

The Swiss Winemaker's Federation predict total losses could reach as high as $92 million. As the news spreads, winemakers in France, Italy, Germany and Austria have also begun to report problems with Moon Privilege affecting their vines. In response to the Swiss broadcast, Bayer AG released a statement acknowledging “strong probability that a link exists between the use of our product and the abnormalities observed,” and advised grapegrowers not to use it until further tests have been conducted, but also suggested the possibility that the atypical effects were caused by the combination of the Moon Privilege fungicide along with other factors, “such as last year’s intensive rain.” For the time being, Bayer AG stated the corporation “cannot accept any legal liability.”

Blessed Wine, from the Graveyard to the Altar

We recently reported that Fred and Carol Schrader were helping out their parish church by donating some of their prized Napa Cabernets for Communion. Now we've learned that the California Oakland Diocese is nipping the cost of altar wine in the bud—by growing their own. Initially, the Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services chose to plant grapevines, blessed by then-bishop the Most Rev. Allen Vigneron (seriously), as an inexpensive beautification project in a nearby Catholic cemetery.

The church planted the grapevines in 2006, and now, with the help of Rock Wall Wine Company winemaker Shauna Rosenblum, is offering a line of reserve wines called Bishop’s Vineyard. The diocese’s 84 parishes, which typically consume about 865 cases of altar wine per year, can now save up to an estimated $52,000. Consumers can buy the Bishop's Vineyard wines for $8 to $28, and the wine has also been donated to local charities to support fund-raising efforts.

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