The most celebrated art "museum" in wine is the Château Mouton-Rothschild label collection, and with the unveiling of the 2015, it's a gallery that now holds some 70 works. It also has a new curator: Following the 2014 death of Bordeaux legend Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, youngest son Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild has guided the artist selections. 2015 marks the first full vintage of a new generation at the Bordeaux first-growth, and for it, de Beaumarchais de Rothschild has tapped German artist Gerhard Richter.
"I was very impressed by the retrospective of Richter’s work at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2012 and had been dreaming ever since of getting him to illustrate a label for Mouton," de Beaumarchais de Rothschild told Unfiltered. "He is one of the most fascinating artists of our time, with a very strong personality and an extraordinary capacity for renewal, so that he is always equal to himself yet always different. We are very honored that he accepted our commission. From a more family-oriented standpoint, I am happy to see a German artist inaugurate the post-Philippine era at Mouton Rothschild: For our family, it is a return to our origins, which also marks a new beginning."
Careful observers will also note a new signature on the label: the scrawl of Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, the eldest son of Baroness Philippine, now chairman of the company and co-owner with his two siblings. "It feels like continuity and that's the essential thing," Sereys de Rothschild told Unfiltered. "It's important that Mouton keeps going forward. It's been very successful over many years and there's no reason why our generation can't be as successful."
Richter's method du jour he calls "Flux," and it involves spreading enamel on a plate of plexiglass and pressing it against a glass plate. De Beaumarchais de Rothschild thinks it makes sense as wine art, being "both random and carefully considered, just as a great wine depends on both the most sophisticated techniques and the whims of nature. On this year’s label there are no vines or glasses or rams to guide us. It is for each one of us, glass of Mouton in hand, to find the path taken by the painter." The painter, as is custom, will be paid with ample glasses of Mouton. 2015 is already a classic vintage for art labels, as Mouton is joined by fellow first-growth Margaux in sporting one.
Italian-American master of all things food Lidia Bastianich has been busy. She's been promoting a new cookbook, Celebrate Like an Italian (her 14th), sharing her Thanksgiving recipes with Wine Spectator, working on her memoir (details still under wraps), and now Unfiltered gets word the celebrated chef is airing a holiday TV special with a unique focus. Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes is an hour-long segment that follows Bastianich as she meets U.S. military veterans who now work the land (and sea) through various types of farming.
"For the veterans I have this passion and gratitude. They are keeping us safe and free," Bastianich told Unfiltered. "The sharing of food, that’s what I love to do, so I just put these things together. It was a great experience for me."
The show follows Bastianich from California to South Carolina as she meets with eight veterans and their families and breaks bread with them—literally. At the end, the farmers and kin meet for a family-style meal prepared by Bastianich herself, using ingredients she picked up during her travels to the veterans’ homes. But we won’t tell you too much: Check it out in the trailer.
Filming the show took about four months to complete earlier this year, and Bastianich came back with poignant memories. She told Unfiltered the story of Mark and Denise Beyers. The couple, now married, was dating while they both served in the military. On Mark's second deployment, he lost his right leg and arm. "He almost died. [Denise] flew to Germany and came by his bedside. He tells this story and it gives me shivers. He says, 'I woke up, and I saw her there, and the first words out of her mouth were, "Mark. Now. You heal fast, and get your ass out of this bed, and let’s get married, and build our life."' And my god, this young woman had courage. My eyes filled up."
Bastianich is always a welcome presence on the air, and Homegrown Heroes is the seventh in the Lidia Celebrates America series; catch it on Friday, Dec. 15, at 10 p.m. Eastern on PBS.
"Ben Fu" is the Chinese transliteration of "Penfolds," and it means "rushing toward prosperity." That seemed to be motive enough for alleged scam artists operating in Shanghai, but after a three-month investigation, police seized some 14,000 bottles of plonk falsely labeled as the famous Australian brand, and the 13 suspects are now … going nowhere fast.
At a press conference last week, police presented the evidence, sold through retailer Alibaba's online market—a Chinese eBay of sorts—called Taobao, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, and then, in some cases, to bars. Alibaba has been in this space before for its mixed record on rooting out fakes, but told the paper that some of their new fraud-fighting technologies aided police in this case.
One of the accused, a Mr. Dai, said that the wine is not, technically, fake or anything, so what's the problem? "They are not fake wines, they bring no harm to the human body," he said in a prison interview. "I told customers the price is very cheap but the quality is not that good. They were willing to buy."
Singer/songwriter/producer Pharrell Williams' two highest-charting singles are 2013's "Happy" and "Blurred Lines." But when it comes to the anthropomorphic release of harmful greenhouse gases and the attendant deleterious effects of global warming, Williams has made it clear he's pretty unhappy, and on the matter of rising sea levels wreaking havoc on ocean ecosystems and low-lying population centers with increasing severity, the musician is crystal clear.
"In 2017, I, Pharrell Williams, created a song that will be released in 100 years. But only if we care about the planet," intones Williams in a new video for a collaboration with Louis XIII, the fancy Rémy Martin Cognac cuvée. The song is called "100 Years" and slated for release in 2117—but only if humans have not careened the planet into an inhospitable wasteland of storms, floods and misery. It was recorded to a single disc sculpted not from vinyl, but the clay from Cognac’s chalky soil, and it's being buried in a special vault in the Louis XIII cellars for the next century; the safe is designed to disintegrate if it comes in contact with water.
"I love the fact that Louis XIII thinks a century ahead," Williams said in a press release. “We have a common interest in preserving nature for the future. Each bottle is the life achievement of generations of men and women.”
The brand is also kicking off a series of charity dinners to raise awareness and funds for environmental organizations, and it's not the first art they've cellared: Two years ago, they teamed up with John Malkovich and director Robert Rodriguez on 100 Years: The Movie You'll Never See; at the time, the company's tone was markedly more optimistic vis-à-vis the whole "habitable planet still existing in a century" thing.
Unfiltered first wrote about Colby Red six years ago shortly after the California charity cuvée supporting heart heath, born from a father-son project in 2010, was launched. Now, we're happy to report proceeds from sales of the red blend have surpassed $1 million in donations to the American Heart Association, the Children's Heart Foundation and other aid organizations.
It's all thanks to a kid with a big, broken heart: Sonoma resident Colby Groom was born with congenital heart disease, and by age 10, had already undergone back-to-back open-heart surgeries. Looking for a way to help children like him, the then-11-year-old approached his father, owner of Australia's Groom Wines and former senior winemaker for Penfolds, Daryl Groom, about making a wine together for charity. In 2010, the duo made two barrels of Colby Red in Peter Seghesio's converted garage, with hope of selling enough to donate $500 to charity.
They had no idea that the story behind Colby Red would quickly spread, or that it would tug at the heartstrings of so many. The wine has been picked up by Walgreens, major restaurant chains and even United Airlines in the intervening years.
"We never thought we'd get to $1 million," Daryl Groom told Unfiltered. "Now, all of a sudden, wow, we can probably get to $2 million really quickly. Could we raise $5 million?" But Colby—now a healthy 19-year-old and sought-after guest speaker for heart-health organizations nationwide—keeps his original goal close to his heart. "If you ask Colby, his desire is simply to not have any more kids in the hospital go through what he went through," he said. "The more money we raise, the more advances we see."
Champagne, as we all know, can only be made in the Champagne region of France. But it can be marketed all over the world, and Nicolas Feuillatte is the latest house to target certain destinations with "city" bottles. In 2016, Moët & Chandon began releasing geocentric Nectar Imperial bottles adorned with maps of places like New York, Atlanta, D.C. and "Ohio City."
Now Feuillatte is releasing a limited-edition holiday line of its Brut Champagne Réserve and Brut Rosé Champagne in packages featuring gold-on-black skyline silhouettes of five U.S. cities that demonstrate a somewhat improved grasp of American geography over Moët's: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Seattle. So seems rather less likely Feuillatte will be deployed to celebrate a major sports championship in any remaining 2017 seasons.
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