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Unfiltered: Château Pétrus Makes a Record-Breaking Sale—of Art

Plus, Yankees and Mets toast the Subway Series, an academic basis for music and wine preference, buy wine to save cork, and wines stoppers for both virtue and vice

Posted: May 21, 2008

• The Moueix family, owners of Pomerol's famed Château Pétrus, sold a classic piece of contemporary art for a record sum this past week. Francis Bacon's Triptych 1976, which was originally purchased by Pétrus' Jean-Pierre Moueix in 1977, was sold at auction at Sotheby's in New York May 14 for $86.3 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of post-war art. The buyer was billionaire Roman Abramovich, and it's no surprise he would take such an interest in a British artist such as Bacon—the Russian oil magnate, estimated to be worth nearly $20 billion, is best known as the owner of English Premier League soccer club Chelsea, which he purchased in 2003 for a mere $233 million. Abramovich's Chelsea squad plays today in the Champions League final against Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United side. No word on whether Sir Alex has another "magnificent wine" in store for today's game.

• Mets catcher Brian Schneider, Yankee outfielder Bobby Abreu and Yankee catcher Jorge Posada were all on hand for the launch of their Longball Cellars charity wines (proceeds from which go to each player's charity of choice) this past Friday at Mickey Mantle's steak house in New York. The event was emcee'd by local WNBC sports anchor Bruce Beck, and alternately described as a "wine tasting" and "wine testing" by WFAN broadcasters Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. Mets ace Johan Santana and shortstop phenom Jose Reyes, who also have labels with the Clos LaChance-sourced wines, were not in attendance, as the first game of this year's Subway Series, in which Santana was starting, was scheduled for that evening. Considering that the Mets swept the series, Unfiltered wondered if the Yankees stars' time might have been better spent at the ballpark, even though Friday night's game was ultimately rained out.

• Would you like some Rolling Stones with your Screaming Eagle, miss? Or perhaps some Lil' Jon with your Château Latour? Psychologists at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh have discovered that music can influence the taste of wine on our palates. Professor Adrian North and his team in the department of applied psychology had 250 students taste various wines in silence or with various styles of music playing. Powerful music made drinkers feel a Cabernet Sauvignon was 60 percent more robust, while pop and bossa nova tunes made Chardonnay 40 percent more refreshing. North believes that music primes certain parts of the brain, which are then active during tasting. The research was commissioned by Chilean winery owner Aurelio Montes, who already plays Gregorian chants in his cellar while his wines barrel age. Montes had been intrigued by North's previous studies on psychology and music, the last of which found that grocery store shoppers were more likely to buy French wines when accordion music was playing and German wines when an oompah band was rocking out. Unfiltered can't wait to see what he'll do for an encore.

• The World Wildlife Fund, known for assisting endangered species (and legally wrestling its WWF acronym away from the World Wrestling Federation a few years ago) is now extending its reach by offering a new range of red and white wines called "African Dawn" that are, of course, incredibly green. WWF's Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz and Pinotage are produced by South African winery Rooiberg, and the wines are sold in recycled-glass bottles with "forest-friendly" corks and labels. Funds from every bottle sold benefit the WWF's Mediterranean Cork Oak Forest Program. Howard Wright, head of trading at the WWF British office, said of the wines, "Never has a glass or two of your favorite tipple been more guilt-free," adding, "with these green credentials, there certainly won't be any environmental hangover in the morning!"

• Speaking of hangovers and guilt … Unfiltered has an imaginary angel on one shoulder, and a devil on the other, guiding us through the moral muck of our everyday lives. So when we stumbled upon these "saint and sinner" wine stoppers, we identified with them immediately. These chrome-plated stoppers cost less than $20 and have a hollow center in which you can place the cork. The possibilities of using these are endless-how do you interpret "saint" and "sinner" wines? Unfiltered guesses that "saint" wines are light and elegant, perhaps even good values as well, while the "sinner" wines are overpriced, high-alcohol, hangover-inducing wines that make you feel guilty about having bought cases of them with the money you were saving for your kid's orthodontia.

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