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Everybody Loves the Drake, but Will They Love His Whiskey?

Plus, could angry vintners interrupt the Tour de France? Chef Tom Colicchio takes on GMOs, and a very special vintage for a longtime wine importer
Photo by: Charles Lauren/WireImage/Getty Images
Canada's Drake might be cooking up a batch of whiskey ... from Virginia?

Posted: March 3, 2016

Canadian hip-hop star Drake is proud of his Toronto roots: His new album, set to drop next month, is titled Views From the 6, a reference to the city's area code, and one of his latest business ventures is a partnership with the Canada Goose cold-weather clothing company. He's also declared himself an appreciator of Gaja wines. All the more intriguing to Unfiltered, then, this recent cryptic post from his Instagram account (handle: champagnepapi): "After that legendary moment what else is there to do but celebrate with class. Virginia Black coming soon …" and a URL for Virginia Black Whiskey. It's not unusual for rappers to affiliate with adult beverages: See Diddy's Ciroc, E-40's Mangoscato, Nicky Minaj's Myx and Snoop Dogg's partnership with Landy Cognac. And it's certainly not unusual for Millennials like Drake, the most Millennial of them all, to be multifarious in their beverage tastes.

Still, why a Drake whiskey? As far as Unfiltered can tell, Drake has only once rapped about whiskey in general (in the context of a woman spilling it on herself) and has no particular connection to the Commonwealth State. Why not release a delicious Niagara Escarpment VQA ice wine? Or a whiskey from noted whiskey-producing nation Canada? Then again, Virginia Gentleman whiskey comes from Kentucky, so we suppose Virginia Black could come from just about anywhere. One thing is certain: Drake, who is "Drinking every night because we drink to my accomplishments," has plenty of opportunities to diversify his beverage selections.

Tour de France Irks French Vintners with Chilean Wine Sponsor

Furious winemakers in France’s Aude region have threatened to block the route of the Tour de France at strategic points as it passes through the area in July, in a rather belated response to a sponsorship deal with Chilean wine group Cono Sur. The Chilean cuvée Bicicleta was uncorked for the first time for the Tour in Britain in 2014, then in Holland and Belgium in 2015. The sponsorship deal with Tour de France organizer Amaury Sport Organisation is slated to continue through 2017. The Aude vignerons only recently learned of the deal, and have erupted in anger.

“We feel humiliated,” said Frédéric Rouanet, president of the 4,000-member Aude Syndicate and a winegrower himself in Pépieux. The Aude growers contend that the Tour de France represents French culture and the organizers should have chosen a French wine, despite that it could only be marketed during the stages in Andorra, Spain and Switzerland. France’s strict Evin Law forbids advertising wine in association with sporting events like the Tour de France while on French territory, so at least the Aude producers will not have to bear the humiliation of having Chilean Bicicleta peddled in their own backyard. The Tour de France passes through the Aude's Carcassonne and nearby Montpellier during Stage 11.

Chef Tom Colicchio vs. the GMOs

Do you want to know if your food contains GMOs? Tom Colicchio certainly does. The celebrity chef and Top Chef judge behind Best of Award of Excellence–winning Craft, Craftsteak, Colicchio and Sons, Riverpark and Tom Colicchio's Heritage Steak has publicly condemned a piece of congressional legislation that would eliminate state-mandated labeling of genetically modified foods. Dubbed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act by supporters and the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act by food activists, the legislation would override individual state laws that require GMO labeling. Instead, the proposed law would establish strictly voluntary national guidelines.

Colicchio, cofounder of advocacy group Food Policy Action (FPA), rallied chefs and food professionals to oppose the act. In less than a week, 4,000 chefs signed the petition, which stated, "As chefs, we have a fundamental right to know what's in the food we cook and serve to our customers. We urge you to reject any attempt to prevent the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food."

Much to FPA's chagrin, the resounding dissent from the food community was not enough to halt the progression of the legislation. On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the measure, advancing it to the Senate floor. The FPA released a statement condemning the decision and vowing to continue their opposition. “It’s unbelievable that members of the Senate Agriculture Committee would vote to continue the same broken system of voluntary GMO labeling that keeps consumers in the dark about what’s in their food and how it’s grown,” said Colicchio in a statement. “Americans deserve transparent and accurate information to make their own decision about what to feed their families.”

A Very Happy 100th Birthday for Importer Hubert Opici

What do you drink to celebrate 100 years of life? Hubert Opici has plenty of options, thanks to a lifetime working to bring great wines to American customers. Opici, who celebrates his 100th birthday on March 13, is chairman of the board at Opici Wine Group, an importer and distributor his parents founded in 1913. His parents, children of Italian immigrants, imported Italian wine and sold it in New Jersey. Prohibition curtailed their business but thankfully it ended shortly before Hubert went to work for them as a delivery boy. “My parents were in the wine business and it was only natural that I would join them,” he said recently. What started as a small New Jersey distributor has evolved into an importer and distributor of more than 50 brands, employing more than 500 people across the United States. Hubert plans to celebrate his centennial with his daughter Linda and grandchildren Don and Dina, all of whom work in the business today.

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