Pope Francis last week flew to Geneva to ring in the 70th birthday of the World Council of Churches, but as a cool guy who knows wine is essential to any celebration, he got the party started early, popping bottles on the plane before he'd even touched down in Switzerland!
Unfiltered got word that Francesco sipped an appropriately Piemontese pour on his flight over the Alps last Thursday: the Enrico Serafino Alta Langa Brut Spumante Metodo Classico 2013, a tasteful traditional-method sparkler of Pinot Nero and Chardonnay aged on the lees at least 36 months. According to Nico Conta, president of the winery, the bubbly was specifically selected by the Pope’s sommelier and served on the Alitalia flight to Francis and his whole entourage. It was the first time Serafino had been anointed in-flight wine on the papal plane.
"The Pope’s team informed us that the Alta Langa Enrico Serafino was very appreciated onboard," Conta told Unfiltered via email, hopefully "opening the doors to future presences."
Given Francis' reputation as a particularly worldly man of God, Serafino is an aptly international choice: The winery has a 140-year history in the hills of Piedmont, but was purchased from Gruppo Campari in 2015 by American businessman Kyle Krause and his family. But it was not, as Unfiltered readers know, Pontifex's first flight of American vintners' wine.
Astronauts deserve to enjoy a glass of bubbly just as much as the rest of us—arguably more after solving a square-peg-in-a-round-hole problem to keep from being sucked into the icy black void where no one can hear you scream. So Champagne house G. H. Mumm has created the Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar, a new bottle that can be poured and enjoyed in space. The “very limited edition” bottle will be released in September as part of the larger "Defy Your Gravity" digital campaign (rockets being a natural evolution in the house's associations with fast things, from race cars to Usain Bolt). The transparent glass bottle was crafted with help from design agency Spade, and it took three years to figure out how to make a bottle that pours in zero gravity and a glass to contain the wine. It looks cool, but how does it work?
To demo, here's some European Space Agency aces merrily floating around with the Spade designers and Mumm cellar master Didier Mariotti on a zero-G airplane:
In zero-gravity environments, the bubbly takes the form of, well, bubbles—quivering, floating globules. “The bottle uses the Champagne’s gas to expel the liquid into a ring-shaped frame, where it is concentrated and evaporated into a droplet of bubbles,” a Mumm rep explained to Unfiltered. “[The droplets] can then be gathered up using glasses specially designed by Mumm.”
Even without gravity, surface tension makes the floating droplets adhere to the concave bowls of glasses. And since it’s vital that the French be able to “cin cin” glasses to a mission well accomplished, the curved lip of the glasses helps keep the droplets together while clinking. (For the earthbound, the bottles will still function under the drag of gravity, but the base-less golf-tee-shaped glasses might not hold up.)
The obvious question: Does Champagne taste better in space? Mariotti claims so in the video: “There’s a sheer pleasure of the taste when tasting in weightlessness. We discover aspects that we didn’t have on Earth.”
In other spacewine news, the country of Georgia has announced its contribution to NASA's "Journey to Mars Challenge," a project that asks individuals and organizations to experiment with ways to make human life sustainable—and bearable—on the Red Planet. Initiatives for food, shelter and communication are all laudable, but Georgia, the country that has a credible claim to introducing Earth to wine, decided it would try to replicate that fantastic success on our next planet-to-be.
On June 22, the IX Millennium project was announced at the Georgian National Museum. Researchers will attempt to grow grapevines in a greenhouse mimicking Mars conditions. For now, the focus is on identifying varieties best suited to Martian terroir, but we see no reason why the next phase of the project shouldn't involve fermenting wine in clay qvevri, in the ground … in space. “We started thinking about how Georgia can partake in this project, and we have decided it should be the grapevine,” Mikheil Batiashvili, rector of Tbilisi-based Business and Technology University told the Georgian news site IPN. "Winemaking is our historical patrimony and our pride.”
Miller High Life may have dubbed itself the "Champagne of Beers," but Beck's is coming for the title of "Sparkling Wine Flute of Beer Cans." The German brand recently debuted Le Beck's, a special-edition aluminum can in the shape of a fancy flute of bubbly containing, uh, sparkling (regular) beer. The goal, according to a press release put out by Beck's branding partner Serviceplan, is to make canned beer a drink of choice for well-heeled habitués of art galleries, classical concerts and exclusive events—where the pop of a wine cork is heard far more often than a pop-top coming off a brewski. The cans were purportedly "presented to the public at some of the most exclusive events," said Susanne Koop, marketing manager at Anheuser-Busch InBev Germany, in a statement provided to Unfiltered, but as our invite must have been lost in the mail, we've yet to spot them in the wild.
But for the discerning slammer of cold ones hoping to tote one of these lavish vessels around at their next posh event, Beck's tells us they're considering mass-producing Le Beck's to sell around the world. "At the end of the day, our consumers love it, we love it, and it perfectly fits our premium image," said Koop. "What else could we really ask for?"
But that's not the only drinkware development to drive the internets wild this week. While beer goes bubbly, bubbly goes … bigger. Meet the flute that can hold 750 mL of your favorite sparkling wine! (Or beer, we guess.) The full-bottle chalice is available on UK website the Present Finder. Unfiltered looks forward to a summer of rocking all manner of ridiculous drinks conveyances at our many rooftop parties.
Pour it up, pour it up … then walk away with the glass. That seems to be pop-culture superstar Rihanna's MO when it comes to drinking wine while out on the town. Back in 2016, Unfiltered reported on the nine-time Grammy winner's habit of leaving restaurants with wineglass—and sometimes the whole bottle—in hand.
But it's not just eagle-eyed Twitter users noticing RiRi's post-dinner accessory choice anymore. On the BBC's Graham Norton Show to promote her Ocean's 8 film with castmates Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson and Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna had to fess up to her Bad Gal ways when host Norton brought up photo evidence.
Did she really return all those glasses to their owners? Decide for yourself:
It's a festive time to be in Bordeaux, from galas to tastings to the annual Fête du Vin. To get in on the glam, the Rothschilds (Mouton branch) threw a dance party.
Siblings Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild and Camille Sereys de Rothschild built a stage in the middle of their Pauillac Château Clerc Milon’s vineyard and invited the corps from the Bordeaux National Opera Ballet to perform highlights of the past season.
The occasion also marked the second bestowal of Clerc Milon's bi-annual dance prize, to Bordeaux ballet performers Alice Leloup and Marc-Emmanuel Zanoli. “We want the Clerc Milon Dance Prize to serve as a real springboard for the artists who receive it,” said Philippe de Rothschild, chairman and CEO of Baron Philippe de Rothschild; the winners each received €5,000 ($5,800) and three magnums of Clerc Milon from their birth years.
It's part of a larger embrace of the arts: The Rothschilds created the Philippine de Rothschild Corporate Foundation in memory of the late Mouton-Rothschild matriarch; it supports the opera and has been vital in bringing world-class art to Bordeaux’s Cité du Vin via exhibitions like the current “Wine and Music, Harmony and Dissonance.”
But dance is special to Clerc Milon. “We wanted to give Clerc Milon an artistic identity,” Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild told Unfiltered. The wine's label features an illustrated pair of revelers mid-jig, inspired by 17th-century figurines of commedia dell’arte dancers in the Rothschild collection, so dance was a clear choice. “It’s the first time we have the art of ballet associated with our wines.”
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