As John Legend famously sang, the crooner loves curves and edges and perfect imperfections. So what more literal way for the 10-time Grammy winner to demonstrate this than by attempting to open a wine bottle with an increasingly dangerous series of sharp, unwieldy and flamethrowing tools that are not a corkscrew!
In a video short for YouTube channel Tastemade called “Live like a Legend with John,” the onetime New York Wine Experience star and current California vintner tests out some of the Internet’s favorite wine "hacks" for getting into a wine bottle when there's no corkscrew on hand. In the two minute clip, Legend wields a pen, a kitchen torch and even a screwdriver-screw-hammer combo.
Eventually (spoiler) Legend opts for the trusty and traditional method of uncorking a bottle of wine, because at the end of the day, protective eyewear shouldn't be necessary for enjoying a glass of Cab. Eagle-eyed Unfiltered readers will also note that the obstinate bottle is of Legend's wine, LVE, Legend Vineyard Exclusive, born in 2015 in partnership with Napa’s Raymond Vineyards. Striking a more serious tone, Legend told us at the time he launched the brand, "Everything that I do creatively comes back to who I am as a person. I personally love wine, and I know that my fans love to enjoy my music with wine."
And in related John Legend wine news, the R&B star today announced the launch of an LVE Côtes de Provence rosé of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah to join his California Cabernet, Chardonnay and red blend, which makes his the second celebrity rosé to drop in as many weeks.
Napa and Sonoma Valley were still grappling with the aftermath of the October 2017 wildfires when chef Emeril Lagasse’s Carnivale du Vin took place last November. So Lagasse’s decision to create a special Fund-a-Need lot for recovery efforts, in partnership was his friend and AldenAlli wine label cofounder Dan Kosta, was a no-brainer; it raised $500,000—“before Emeril even announced the party,” Kosta told Unfiltered via email.
But the New Orleans chef and the Sonoma winemaker decreed a party there would be, and earlier this month, the two threw a “Party at Dan’s House” as a way of celebrating and thanking those who raised their paddles for the Napa Valley Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Sonoma County. Local chefs and vintners were among the 125 guests gathered at Dan’s “house”—“a trailer that I lived in for three months after the Tubbs Fire destroyed my actual house in Santa Rosa in October,” Kosta explained to Unfiltered—parked at Arista Winery.
“This event was especially important to me because so many of the winemakers, donors and friends behind my foundation’s fundraising events were affected by the California fires, including my good friend, Dan,” Lagasse told Unfiltered via email; he helped craft an extensive food lineup alongside attending all-star Bay Area chefs like Michael Mina and La Toque's Ken Frank, to pair with top Sonoma and Napa pours that circulated throughout the night. A great time was had by all, reported Kosta, but the reason for the occasion was never far from mind. “[Attendees] never lost sight of the reason for being there, so it was a very heartening gathering, and we all shared a common purpose, which to me, and others, was the best part of the evening,” he said.
Three continents. Eight teams of wine wunderkinder. Ten questions, three flights of three wines each—blind. The Left Bank Bordeaux Cup went down once again in the Fort Knox–esque vaulted cellars of Château Lafite Rothschild last week, as the world's top university wine teams faced off in the annual battle of wits and palates.
Yale Law School team member Max Siegel described the scene as the teams descended into the Lafitedome: Bugles blared, and the competition judges—château owners and other wine types in the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac—awaited in their claret robes, honorific sashes and canapé-shaped hats.
Yale (Siegel, Zachary Ramirez-Brunner and Yumehiko Hoshijima), which along with Harvard Business, had advanced out of the U.S. prelims in March to get here to the main event. In the intervening months, they had tasted, thrice weekly, three blind flights of Left Bank Bordeaux to prepare. They memorized their Mouton labels and even made a trip to Bordeaux's Cité du Vin in the days before the competition for a last dose of Left Bank learning. "I think we were on the more intense side in terms of our practices," mused Siegel to Unfiltered.
But how else to tackle quiz questions like:
Identify this château:
Who are these people, the owners of Domaine de Chevalier:
And in a nod to home court, which member of the Rothschild family originally purchased Lafite? (Answers: Ducru-Beaucaillou in St-Julien; the Bernard family; Baron James Mayer de Rothschild.) Then on to the tastings, a blind identification game of three flights: What's the vintage, what's the appellation, which wine is the odd vin out?
But the competition was bookended by fun: days of tastings and feasts at top Bordeaux estates (Latour, Montrose, Carbonnieux), exploration of the city ("very Parisian but without the crowds and the tourists"), and new friends. "It was particularly cool to see people from entirely different cultures/backgrounds who have, in some way or another, arrived at the same place in terms of their interests," said Ramirez-Brunner. After the final scores were tallied, the University of Edinburgh edged out Yale, but all the scholars gathered to celebrate with the full slate of Lafite luminaries—Baron Eric de Rothschild, daughter Saskia, CEO and president Jean-Guillaume Prats and technical director Eric Kohler—for an unforgettable fête. "I think for all of us the wine of the night was the '99 Lafite, of which they had several magnums," Siegel described it. "I think we were all pleasantly surprised when Eric de Rothschild announced the cigars and Cognac and Armagnac." On these, there would be no test.
As do the Champagne bottles on the riddling rack, so too turns the wheel of time. After 28 years wearing the chapeau of chef de cave at Dom Pérignon, Richard Geoffroy is turning over the keys to the cellar to his longtime Assistant Dom, Vincent Chaperon. Geoffroy, who once, fittingly, taught Wine Spectators that Champagne is "time in a bottle", Chaperon and a few hundred friends of the house, marked the occasion as the Champenois are wont to: A blowout daylong fête in the form of a bubble crawl from the maison's vineyards to the famed Abbaye St.-Pierre d'Hautvillers to Paris, where a feast at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée capped the day's festivities.
The "transmission," according to materials presented with ceremony, tasked Chaperon with "three essential missions: Take charge of the material legacy of existing vintages, embody the vision of Dom Pérignon and the intangible heritage passed on by Richard Geoffroy, and last but not least, carry on the commitment to vintages that defines the soul and raison d’être of Dom Pérignon, guiding it into the future." While in the mood of making pronouncements, the house also launched the 2008 vintage, which combines "Richard’s sophisticated and comprehensive knowledge with Vincent’s audacious intuition."
With the glass-clinking out of the way, guests tucked into dishes of wholemeal toast, vegetables from the Château de Versailles garden and "spicy condiment "; marinated Atlantic sea bass, betel leaves and golden caviar; white Anjou asparagus, sea anemone and jute mallow; turbot from the gulf of Gascony, radishes and poppies au Champagne; roasted langoustines, red and green algae, vanilla—you get the idea, it was a whole thing. And throughout, vintages of Dom from Geoffroy's tenure flowed, alongside a few other Français friends like Cheval-Blanc and Yquem. Chaperon fills big shoes, but as a Champagne man, he's … used to the pressure.
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