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Awards Season Ends with Big Bubblies, Bigger Surprises

Also in Unfiltered, embezzlers strike wine country, and the fight over Teran wine heats up between Croatia and Slovenia
Viola Davis pairs her Piper-Heidsieck with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar and husband, Julius Harris, at the Governors Ball.
Photo by: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Viola Davis pairs her Piper-Heidsieck with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar and husband, Julius Harris, at the Governors Ball.

Posted: March 2, 2017

With the plot-twist ending of Sunday night's Oscars ceremony, another Awards Season has officially come to a close. And while the events of the past few star-studded months will be discussed, rewatched and even meme'd for weeks to come, Unfiltered is already nostalgic for the Champagne-fueled celebrity cavalcade. Of course, the stars that shone the brightest were the wines poured at each event—Moët & Chandon at the Golden Globes and Champagne Taittinger and Sterling Vineyards at the SAG Awards, to name a few. (And for more famous wins and wines, Jackson-Triggs will be flowing for Canada's Juno Awards and weeklong festival starting March 27.)

Not to be outdone, the Academy Awards closed out the season with enough food, drink and gossip fodder to last us the whole year. Following the ceremony, attendees gathered at the Governors Ball to celebrate their big wins, drown their sorrows and, mostly, gossip about one of the biggest awards night flubs in Hollywood history. Luckily, there were enough libations on hand to take the edge off; according to event organizers, a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck, the sole Champagne poured at the Oscars, was popped every 8 seconds, and 10,000 glasses from Francis Ford Coppola Winery—fittingly the event's sole table wine provider—were served. For the 23rd consecutive year, California cuisine icon chef Wolfgang Puck fed the hungry stars with a selection of bites to match the extravagance of the evening. Unfiltered got a taste of the opulence a week earlier at Puck's Cut New York, sampling the roasted beet salad, black truffle agnolotti and slow-cooked chicken pot pie. Though they may not look it, Hollywood's elite are a hungry bunch: 10 kilos of American farm-raised caviar, 20 gallons of gelato and 30 pounds of edible gold dust were served during the festivities.

Viola Davis Emma Stone Coppola Sly Sterling Hidden Glover Grammer

But the Governors Ball wasn't the only hot ticket in Tinseltown. Grey Goose was the headliner at the Weinstein Company's pre-Oscar party, and though mother-to-be Beyoncé Knowles abstained from the themed beverages, Best Supporting Actor nominee Dev Patel was spotted glass-in-hand, looking excited for the evening. Then, while the very top of the A-list filed in to Dolby Theater, hordes of Hollywood hotshots gathered at Elton John's 25th annual AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party. Heidi Klum, Jeffrey Tambor, Quincy Jones, Ricky Martin, Adriana Lima and Laverne Cox were all there to enjoy a five-course meal by chef Gordon Ramsay, with Champagne provided by Moët Hennessy and wine from France's Domaine Bertaud-Belieu. Often the last stop of the night for the in-crowd is the Vanity Fair after-party, where white-coated servers passed out flutes of Dom Pérignon to the jubilant winners, good sports and just-happy-to-be-theres of this year's Awards Season.

Wine Crime Strikes Twice, at Home and Abroad

Unlike in the United States, wine crime in Australia apparently doesn't come with a prison sentence—perhaps it's considered redundant considering Australia was once the world's largest penal colony? But even by Down Under standards, Victoria's The Age newspaper considered a recent wine crime resolution "bizarre." Lak Quach was a buyer for wholesaler CellarHand, but he maintained a robust side gig as a wine thief who allegedly plucked $227,000 worth of the stuff from the CellarHand's titular cellar over the past five years, selling it online and to restaurants. Quach used the proceeds to fill up his personal collection. CellarHand owners Patrick and Virginia Walsh were none too chuffed at the revelation: "We were extremely upset, devastated in fact, to recently discover that Lak had engaged in widespread, significant and serious misconduct for the duration of his employment with CellarHand—activities to which he has admitted." But rather than call in a divvy van (real Australian term for "police car"), the Walshes decided on bushland justice: Quach would turn over his ill-gotten private stock to them and embark on a five-year walkabout to not work in the wine industry.

Meanwhile here in the U.S., wine crime has struck California-based vintner Paul Hobbs, and it will decidedly not be settled in some sort of "kangaroo court." Former Hobbs accountant Sandra Turner was arraigned on embezzlement charges this week and potentially faces more than eight years of hard time for allegedly skimming $190,000 from the company between 2010 and 2016, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Turner is accused of taking the money in $1,000 increments, which of course would be a crime, and crime is bad, but getting away with a not-insignificant theft 190 times is also kind of impressive. Turner's lawyer said the alleged theft was driven by a gambling addiction. And as they say, if you're gonna play the game, you've got to know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run …

E.U. Battle Over Istrian Teran Wine Leads to Fraud Accusations

The Teran wines of the Istrian Peninsula, just next door to northeast Italy on the Adriatic Sea, date back to before the Byzantine Era. The Refosco grape–based wines were local staples of the Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians, and continued their run of localized success in the former Yugoslavia, but it would appear they've now caused more controversy in the past few years than in the previous 2,000 combined.

The Istrian Peninsula is presently shared by Slovenia and Croatia. Slovenia, which joined the European Union in 2004, subsequently applied for and received Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for Teran wine in 2009. It meant that Croatia could no longer legally produce Teran wine, at least under the E.U.'s rules, which didn't really bother the Croatians … until they decided to join the E.U. in 2013. At the time, Croatia's efforts to create a cross-border designation for Teran were rejected by Slovenia, so Croatia's wine industry went over Slovenia's head: Just last month, the E.U.'s European Commission approved an application from Croatia to use the term "Teran" on bottles of Croatian wine made on the Istrian Peninsula, with the caveat that they include the words "Hrvatska Istra," or Croatian Istria, in larger font. All's well that ends well on the Istrian Peninsula, right? Not even close. Marjan Colja, who leads a Slovenian group for protecting the country's Teran wines, claims Croatia's application included forged and/or out-of-date documents. He has informed the E.U. that the Slovenians will be filing a complaint with the European Anti-Fraud Office and are preparing a lawsuit as well.

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