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Unfiltered: A Moose Rests in Peace

Plus, A Grand Award winner loses a legal battle, and then a wall, British artist Damien Hirst designs a wine label and Zachys partners with the New York Mets

Posted: February 5, 2009

• The Sonoma County wine industry lost one of its cherished members last week when Moose, longtime official greeter at B.R. Cohn winery in Glen Ellen, passed away peacefully. Moose came into the world 11 years ago, when Bruce Cohn's female black lab introduced herself to one of his prized English bulldog show dogs. The result was the short-legged, good-tempered, magnanimous "Blab," who became known to thousands of winery visitors and fans as Moose. Moose had a bed in the tasting room, working hard to live up to his well-earned motto of "eat well, be loved, get petted and sleep a lot." He even had his own line of merchandise, including a wine, Moose's Red. Cohn says he has plans for one last vintage of Moose's Red, a commemorative bottling, available late this summer. A portion of the profits from the sale of Moose's Red go to Forgotten Felines and Canine Companions for Independence. Also in the offing: Moose's Celebration of Life, to take place at the winery this Saturday. Guests are invited to bring a donation of cash, pet food, toys, bedding or other pet-related items in Moose's honor and receive a complimentary wine tasting. All money and items collected will be donated to local shelters.

What kind of art gallery tears down walls like these?

• Most restaurants are suffering these days as diners are spending more nights at home, and some have even closed—New York's Fiamma, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner, closed in January. But Palais Coburg, a Grand Award-winning restaurant in Vienna, Austria, is hoping the declining economy will actually help them reopen their dining room. On Jan. 2, the hotel closed its fine dining restaurant after it lost a court case to one of its tenants. The tenant, who owns a gallery next door to the palace, won the right to tear down a wall that is shared with the restaurant's kitchen. Without the kitchen wall, which is a firewall, the restaurant can't operate. While the restaurant also lost its chef when it closed, the hotel is taking the case all the way to Austria's Supreme Court, who will decide if Austria's rental laws, which currently favor tenants, should be overturned. In the meantime, the hotel will continue to offer it's 5,000-selection wine list at its Wein Bistro and through Steirereck, a neighboring two-star Michelin restaurant. General manager Andreas Rotergent says the hotel might build a new kitchen altogether, "but we're also hopeful that this poor economy might make our neighbor reconsider the cost of construction and come to a settlement."

At least Hirst's wine labels aren't swimming in formaldehyde.

• Yes it's wine … but is it art? Controversial British artist Damien Hirst's latest creation won't cost you an arm and a leg and a mortgage. In fact, the new wines for which Hirst has designed the label are priced at less than $10. It's a first for Hirst, who is famously known for his outrageous installations with unusual names, such as a shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) and a diamond-encrusted skull (For the Love of God), is making his art available to all who are willing to drink it in the name of Comic Relief. Comic Relief is a charity that supports projects in Africa and the U.K., and when someone gives a donation, they are given a red nose to wear in testament. In the case of the wine, purchasers get a "red nose" on the wine label as proof. Bottles of the South African Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, produced by SAAM Mountain Vineyards, are on sale at British supermarkets, with about 20 percent of the retail price going to charity. The aim is to raise more than $1 million for Comic Relief in the next six weeks, which organizes red nose drives every two years. Dan Coward, the brand's manager at Bibendum, the wine's distributor, says the drive is a huge challenge that needed a big name with previous association to the charity. And the label should strike a chord with the British public.

• Unfiltered was excited to learn that the New York Mets' new stadium is partnering with restaurateur Danny Meyer for its concessions, including an outpost of his Blue Smoke barbecue restaurant and a new Shake Shack. Now comes word that the wine lists at all these Citi Field restaurants should be as impressive as the food: wine retailer Zachys signed on to the project in January and will assist with the selection of stadium wines, with a goal of making Citi Field's food and beverage venues attractive to fans whether it's a game day or not. Unfiltered looks forward to our first visit this summer. We plan on heading straight to the concession stands for a ShackBurger and a glass of wine—the line there can't possibly be as long as the one at the Shake Shack near our office (otherwise we'll miss the game).

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