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Unfiltered: Elway Adds Wine Spray Champion to List of Accomplishments

Plus, an injured golfer takes time out for wine, Hiney Wine is back, the French government continues to restrict alcohol advertising, and Spanish brandy in a spray bottle

Posted: July 30, 2008

• Unfiltered doesn't have much free time, but we try to spend it productively, or at least with dignity. This month, we discovered once again that celebrities often take a different path. At the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe, more than 30 celebrities, most of them current or retired professional athletes, participated in the inaugural Korbel California "Champagne" Spray-Off. (And yes, the quotes are ours.) The competition was judged on a variety of elements, including spraying technique, style, charisma and distance. Michael Jordan, who has popped a few celebratory corks during his career with the North Carolina Tar Heels and Chicago Bulls (though not so many with the Birmingham Barons and Washington Wizards), drew the biggest crowd, but the first-ever Korbel Spray-Off winner was Denver Broncos two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback John Elway. Other participants included Hockey Hall of Famer (and wine collector) Mario Lemieux and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Unfiltered had to wonder whether Romo had done more sipping than spraying, however, as he reportedly fell into a pond on the very first hole of the golf tournament.

• Speaking of golf, hopes that English golfer Luke Donald will play in September's Ryder Cup in Louisville, Ky., are fading fast, as the wrist injury he sustained in the final round of last month's U.S. Open is healing slowly. However, Donald may find some consolation in the fact that the Luke Donald Collection of California wines, created in collaboration with Bill Terlato of the Terlato Wine Group, are arriving in markets in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois and California. Donald and Terlato began golfing together while Donald was playing for the Northwestern University golf team, and while Terlato says that the idea of a collaboration was born on those outings, he told PGA Tour correspondent Helen Ross that he wasn't just looking for a celebrity to endorse the wine—he insisted that Donald be involved in developing the product. While no athlete hopes for an injury, no matter what their obligations outside the sport, at least Donald's hiatus from competitive golf will allow him to participate in this year's harvest (though his doctors would probably suggest he skip picking).

• If, in the 1980s, you listened to one of the more than 600 radio stations that ran ads for Hiney Wine in a flip-top can, you may (or may not) be pleased to learn that they're making a comeback. Hiney Wine is the comedic creation of Terry Dorsey and T.J. Donnelly, who produced fake commercials about an imaginary winery operated by "Big Red" and "Thor" Hiney. The scripts made liberal use of the double entendre, and most of the time, they referred to an imaginary product. Dorsey and Donnelly actually made two (largely unsuccessful) attempts to turn Hiney Wine into a real wine brand—first as a de-alcoholized wine, and later as a wine cooler. Today, Donnelly has resurrected the name and the radio spots, and has created new television commercials, to sell the third incarnation of Hiney Wine (this time, in a bottle). Donnelly explained, "We had one of the best novelty brand names already. We had a marketing program without a product." Washington's Skylite Cellars and D'Vine Wine of Texas are among the producers supplying the juice for Hiney Wine and, in keeping with the company's particular brand of humor, the labels carry names like "Big Red Hiney," "Fine White Hiney" and "Tiny Hiney." The TV spots are being tested in markets across the country, and you also can find them online, if you happened to smile at any of the jokes above.

• In other matters of taste, who knew wine was such a dirty word? In France, wine—or at least, wine advertising—may be put on the same legal level as pornography, if suggested changes to a law are passed. Under proposed amendments to the 1991 Evin law, which reflects the government's attempt to cut down on underage drinking, online wine, beer and liquor advertisements would be restricted to producers' own websites, and the ads' appearance online would be limited to certain hours of the day, as is now the case with sites featuring pornography in France. You may recall that earlier this year, a French appeals court ordered beer producer Heineken to pull all of the advertisements for wine from their French website. In May, the Prague Post reported that Heineken has since stopped accepting advertising from all of the 269 French wine merchants which had previously advertised on its site, including smaller wineries that rely on the Internet for sales. In light of a recent study from the University of Montpellier showing that wine consumption in France has decreased by more than 50 percent since 1980, Unfiltered is hard-pressed to understand why the government continues to chip away at French winemakers' already-limited power to sell its product.

• Meanwhile, Spanish winery Bodegas Torres, in an effort to encourage its younger customers to develop a taste for brandy and sweet wines, is taking it one spray at a time. With their latest innovation, "Torres Flavors," the Penedès-based winery is offering 1.2-ounce spray bottles containing Moscatel Oro as well as 5- and 10-year-old brandies, a concept that the company calls a "successor to the hip flask." The company suggests using the sprays to add "nuances" to coffee, cocktails and desserts, although while sizing up that pocket-sized packaging, Unfiltered couldn't help but think of other things—a long bus ride in traffic, a tedious movie—that might also benefit from a little brandy-based "nuance."

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