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Emmanuel Macron Finds Unicorn Wine, Blasts Weedkiller; Wet Bandits Steal 8,000-Gallon Vodka Iceberg 'Harvest'

The French president stopped by the Paris Ag Show to real-talk wine policy and taste some rare gems. Plus, which royal family member smuggled Krug Champagne into the hospital?
Tired: gilets jaunes. Wired: vins jaunes.
Photo by: Romain Gaillard/Sipa/AP Images
Tired: gilets jaunes. Wired: vins jaunes.

Posted: February 28, 2019

They were simpler times, when then-candidate for the French presidency Emmanuel Macron won over his countrymen by promising to bring to the office a combo of fresh-faced idealism and an experienced palate that could identify Bordeaux and Provence in a blind wine tasting.

Now, fighting literal fires as the Yellow Vest protests continue to rock Paris, Macron almost missed his much-beloved drop-in at the wine pavilion of the annual Paris International Agricultural Show. But the president made an appearance at 9 p.m. Saturday for a nightcap of Burgundy, Rhône and wine-policy talk. Macron, a known connoisseur of boutique growers and unicorn #sommlife selects, sipped on a rare Vacqueyras blanc from the Southern Rhône's Domaine la Fourmone and a Domaine Maillard Corton-Renardes grand cru 2011 red Burgundy.

Pascal Maillard and Ombeline Catteau of Domaine Maillard liked the pairing. "Corton-Renardes is a wine of strong character and density. Wild and smoky, it is the most racy of the Corton hill, with a lifetime potential out of the ordinary," they told Unfiltered via email. "It is surely all these subtleties that pushed [sommelier] Etienne Laporte to choose it as a wine being the image of Monsieur Macron!"

"We are very pleased to have one of our wines tasted by the president," said Marion Missolin of La Fourmone. "As Vacqueyras is mostly known for its red wines, it is interesting to introduce the audience to another aspect of our production and show the quality of this diversity." Macron himself was intrigued, "Quel cépage?" (Roussanne.)

In his chat with directors of wine-industry organizations, Macron listened to concerns about taxes on French wine exports and governmental aid for winegrowers before revisiting one of his buzziest wine policies, the push to drastically reduce the use of synthetic herbicides that can be environmentally damaging. In a speech earlier in the day, he had declared, "I think we can have the first vineyards in the world without glyphosate."

On that issue, Macron has La Fourmone and Maillard on board—both have already eliminated glyphosate in their own vineyards. "It will mean a lot to us if winegrowers of France were to become an example for the rest of the world," said Missolin.

Chilling Act of Icecrime as Wet Bandits Steal Vodka Distillery's Pristine Iceberg Water

The mysterious disappearance of some 8,000 gallons of Stone Age water, "harvested" from an iceberg for the production of vodka, continues to baffle the Royal Canadian Mounties of Newfoundland. It was enough water to make 65,000 bottles of Iceberg Vodka. Without breaking any locks, the thieves infiltrated the water warehouse, backed up a tanker truck and hooked a hose to the tank where the iceberg water was stored.

“We can only guess that they thought it was actually vodka,” Iceberg Vodka CEO and co-owner David Meyers told Unfiltered. “They’re going to have pretty big surprise.”

Courtesy of Iceberg Vodka
Cash floe

If you were already pretty-big-surprised at "iceberg harvest," it goes like this: Thousands of icebergs break away from the ice shelf in the arctic every year and float down "Iceberg Alley" along the coast of Newfoundland. “It’s the purest source of water on the planet,” said Meyers. “It exposes the oldest core of the ice; they have been frozen since last ice age.” But timing is everything. “It’s like grapes for the wine industry, it’s one time a year.”

The harvest crew uses articulated claws and a backhoe to pluck off chunks of about a metric ton of ice, which are then ground up and put into a hold. There, the iceberg is turned into water, by a process known as melting.

“If we don’t harvest it, it just melts and disappears. There’s no environmental footprint,” said Meyers. "Not only is it pristine and clear, it’s a fairly high pH, so it’s a soft water." No treatment or purification is needed before the company blends it with grain alcohol to make the final product. Luckily, Meyers says the distillery has sufficient stock to see them through this year’s harvest. Meanwhile, with no fingerprints and no leads, detectives may be forced to declare this—donning sunglasses—a cold case.

Which Royal Family Member Smuggled Krug into the Hospital?

As recent history will tell you, the British royal family loves their wine—almost as much as we plebeians love to gossip about how much the British royal family loves their wine. And in the absence of a royal wedding to speculate on, we've got some new-old news about one of the 20th century's favorite monarchs: Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, otherwise known as the Queen Mother, or simply "Mum" to the reigning Queen Elizabeth II.

According to Britain's Channel 5 documentary Secrets of the Royal…, the Queen Mother, who died in 2002 at age 101, had a particular fondness for Krug Champagne, and she liked it so much that she'd often keep a stash of it with her wherever she went—including, apparently, when she went to the hospital for surgery.

"At the age of 97, she was in hospital having an operation on her hip," sommelier Pippa Penny claims in a video clip of the documentary. "And she smuggled 12 bottles of Krug Champagne into the hospital to make her stay a little more comfortable and enjoyable."

We're not sure what's more impressive: A near-centenarian prioritizing Champagne during a likely physically trying time, or the ability of the Queen Mother's team to hide thousands of dollars' worth of Krug in her royal hospital suite!

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