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The Bonds May Change, but the Champagne Remains the Same

Plus, Somm hits the small screen as Uncorked, chef Anthony Bourdain's murderous sushi chef returns (to comic stands), and Harvard buys another Central Coast vineyard
Photo by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios/Columbia Pictures
No matter the actor (Daniel Craig stars in Spectre), James Bond always indulges in Bollinger and beautiful women.

Posted: November 5, 2015

The newest installment in the James Bond series, Spectre, premieres in the U.S. Friday night, with what will likely be actor Daniel Craig’s last appearance as author Ian Fleming’s beloved British superspy. Long before Craig took up Bond’s mantle, however, Agent 007’s Champagne of choice has been Bollinger: Roger Moore popped Bollinger NV in 1973’s Live and Let Die; for Timothy Dalton in 1989’s License to Kill, it was Bollinger Extra Brut R.D. 1979; Pierce Brosnan fancied Bollinger 1961 and Bollinger La Grande Année 1995 in 2002’s Die Another Day; and this weekend, Bollinger Extra Brut R.D. 2002 stars in Spectre.

In celebration of yet another bubbly Bond debut, Champagne Bollinger has released a limited-edition 2009 vintage Spectre cuvée ($229), which happens to be the only vintage 2009 Champagne that Bollinger will release. But if you really want to feel like you’re serving Champagne straight from a Q Branch Bond gadget, Bollinger has partnered with crystal firm Saint-Louis to create the magnum-sized Spectre crystal ice bucket, a two-piece, 2-foot-tall, 30-pound, $9,500, not-so-subtle monument to 007’s powers of seduction.

‘Somm’ Hits the Small Screen with ‘Uncorked’

If the unexpected hit Somm left you thirsting for more wine-geeking drama, you’re in luck. Esquire Network’s new series Uncorked premieres Nov. 10. Somm director Jason Wise serves as co-executive producer for this docu-drama following six New York-based wine professionals as they prepare for the Master Sommelier exam.

Uncorked’s candidates hoping to join the Court of Master Sommeliers’ class of 2015: Jane Lopes, a sommelier at Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning Eleven Madison Park; Morgan Harris of Best of Award of Excellence-winning Aureole; Yannick Benjamin, sommelier at the University Club and cofounder of his non-profit charity Wheeling Forward; Marta (Award of Excellence) wine director Jack Mason; Josh Nadel, cofounder of Oregon’s Gothic Wine and executive beverage director of chef Andrew Carmellini's restaurants in New York, as well as Miami Beach’s Best of Award of Excellence-winning the Dutch; and Dana Gaiser, key accounts director for Lauber Imports.

“The opportunity to portray a journey motivated by the love of wine was too important to refuse,” Harris told Unfiltered. “I can only hope it'll bring a whole new understanding of sommeliers’ motivations, and bring some new wine lovers into the fold.”

“Wine is loved by people all over the world, but only a handful can say they’ve actually ‘mastered’ it,” Matt Hanna, Esquire Network’s head of original programming, said in a statement. “We’re excited to take viewers inside this highly competitive world and showcase the stories of these young wine experts as they sacrifice everything to tackle a test that has defeated thousands of candidates.” Who will pass? Viewers will have to watch the series to find out. (Or just head over to the Court of Master Sommeliers’ website and check out the list of 2015 M.S. pin recipients.)

Chef Anthony Bourdain's Murderous Sushi Chef Returns (to Comic Stands)

In most gangland yarns, Mom and Dad are humble fishmongers/haberdashers/trattoria chefs working too hard to keep tabs on their wayward boy, who falls in with the wrong crowd and, soon enough, he's leaving blood on the walls of cafes all about town. In Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi, the just-released graphic novella from celebrity chef/Wine Spectator cover boy Anthony Bourdain and comic book veteran Joel Rose, the hero's father is a most powerful Yakuza boss, but junior just wants to make the best damn sushi in town.

The prequel to 2013's Get Jiro gives the backstory on, as Bourdain told Unfiltered, "How did he learn to become a sushi master, a trained killer and covered in Yakuza tattoos?" It's complicated, and Jiro's a bit of a chip off the old block himself. The genesis of the first book, Bourdain said, arose from imagining a not-too-distant future where all culture is food, "in which it is completely acceptable to chop off someone's head for disrespecting [culinary] tradition." (This is how Jiro responds to a man who orders a California roll, which should give some perspective to people who complain that wine is too intimidating. Bourdain reminds us that a California roll, if you weren't aware, is the sushi equivalent of "putting Coca-Cola in your Chambertin.")

Jiro is still learning the ropes of wine in Blood and Sushi when he crosses paths with an Italian bistro owner, one of those guys who's always like, "You have to try this wine!" (Bourdain called up Le Bernardin wine director Aldo Sohm for recommendations on have-to-try wines.) Comic fans will recognize artist Alé Garza's penciling from Gen13, Teen Titans and Deadpool. For the authors, it's mostly a for-fun project but, said Bourdain, "there's a part of me that hopes [the book] dissuades people from mixing wasabi in their soy sauce before the sushi even comes out," among other gastronomic gaffes. Or else.

Harvard Sucks Up More Central Coast Vineyards

Last year the Harvard Management Group (HMG) went on a Central Coast buying spree. The series of land purchases, smack in the middle of a serious drought, had more than a few locals wondering if their purchases were vineyard investments, or if water rights and well permits were more on Harvard’s mind.

Whatever its motivations, HMG apparently liked what it found in the drought-stricken county of San Luis Obispo, having recently acquired still more vineyard acreage. On Oct. 20, according to SLO county records, Brodiaea Inc., the wholly-owned Harvard subsidiary responsible for acquiring and managing these parcels, bought an additional 149-acre tract from Diamond Creek LLC (not to be confused with Diamond Creek Vineyards) in Paso Robles for around $4.3 million, according to tax assessor records. Last month’s purchase brings Harvard’s total land holdings in the Central Coast to date in excess of 10,000 acres, with around $65 million invested.

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