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The Mets and Yankees get some wine (as if that'll help come October), a very special nose for winemaking, fermented crunk juice, a $6,500 Champagne and Copia's latest overhaul

Posted: March 19, 2008

• Take me out to the ballgame! Take me out with the crowd! Buy me some Merlot and Schardonnay…. With Opening Day less than a week away, what New York fan wouldn't want to drink a bottle of wine dedicated to new Mets ace Johan Santana? Well, Yankees fans wouldn't, but they have their own wines. The folks at Charity Wines, a division of VinLozano Imports Inc., are partnering with athletes again to produce wines that support several charities. This time it's two Yankees and three Mets—proceeds go to each player's charity of choice. The wines are all sourced from Clos LaChance Winery & Estate Vineyard located in San Martin, Calif., and while the Charity Hop wines have yet to make it into a Wine Spectator blind tasting, Unfiltered has a preview:

  • Jorge Posada - Jorge Cabernet: This has surprising power despite its age and the fact it had to put up with Roger Clemens for several years.
  • Bobby Abreu - Abreu's Finest Merlot: Not bad, but it tastes better in Philadelphia.
  • Jose Reyes - CaberReyes: This flies across the palate with awesome quickness, but some old-schoolers complain it dances too much on the tongue.
  • Johan Santana - Santana's Select: Incredible power at first, but then its complexity and depth throws you a changeup.
  • Brian Schneider - Schneider Schardonnay: A wine for those who want to trade away youthful promise for an aged, reliable vintage. Plenty of oak gives it a strong defense. But how much Schardonnay can you drink before you Schneider all over the floor?

• Insurance company Lloyd's of London is known for covering valuable body parts for very important people, such as America Ferrera's smile (insured for $10 million). Now a Dutch winemaker living in Bordeaux has insured his nose for $8 million. "This certainly is an insurance policy not to be sniffed at," said Jonathan Thomas, lead underwriter at Watkins Syndicate, which co-insured the policy with Lloyd's. "The nose and sense of smell of a winemaker are as important as the fingers of a chef." In this case, the nose belongs to Ilja Gort, the owner of Château La Garde in Bordeaux and producer of Tulipe Wines. Thomas added that it is common for people in the wine industry to insure their tongues, as Angela Mount did for $17 million when she worked for British supermarket Somerfield as a wine buyer—but Gort's policy is new to him. "Mr. Gort has recognized that although his sense of taste is crucial, it is actually his nose that is more important," he said. Michael Jackson could have learned from this man....

Yes, but whether it's alive is very much open to debate.

• If the term "crunk juice" doesn't ring a bell (don't worry, Unfiltered had to look it up on Wikipedia too), you probably don't know much about rapper Lil' Jon. But you might be the target audience for his most recent crunk creation: wine. In case you're a hip-hop neophyte, the 36-year-old "king of crunk" coined the term with his 2004 album Crunk Juice. Inspired to make his own crunk beverage, Lil' Jon released CRUNK!!! Energy Drink in 2005 and now has a wine label, Little Jonathan Winery. According to a rep, Lil' Jon initially wanted to produce wine for the Winter X Games. That idea spawned the wine label, which recently released 15,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2006, Chardonnay Central Coast 2006 and Merlot Monterey 2005, each selling for $15. Alison Crowe, formerly of Bonny Doon Vineyard, is the winemaker. And even though we have yet to taste the wines, we must admit they sound more appealing than CRUNK!!! Energy Drink. Although, we're kind of wondering what would happen if you mixed the two together.

• If you thought Krug's new $3,000 bottle of Champagne is a bit too extravagant, then you're probably not one of the 100 very wealthy people with the privilege of having a case Champagne made just for them. At least, that's the latest idea behind Perrier-Jouët By & For, in which the Épernay-based Champagne house will offer an area of its cellar to store the case in a specially manufactured box, as well as a stay in the guesthouse, both of which are usually closed to the public. During their visit, the lucky buyers will meet with cellar master Hervé Deschamps in order to create their very own bottling of Champagne by blending several vintages. Once the formula is agreed upon and bottled, using Perrier-Jouët's 2000 Belle Epoque as the base wine, both Deschamps and the purchaser will sign the labels. The price: $78,000 all-in ($6,500 per bottle). With any luck, the guesthouse has a bottle of Scotch in it to help you forget that you just spent more on a case of Champagne than you would have on a 2008 Mercedes CLS550 Coupe. $10,000 more, actually.

• It's official. Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts, has now experienced more overhauls than Joan Rivers' face. Since opening to great fanfare and expectations in 2001, the center went through a restructuring only two years later, and then another in 2005. Then came a selling off of land and a shedding of staff in 2006, with a restructuring to focus more on wine and less on the arts. As if you hadn't guessed by now that you can set your watch to Copia's, "Um, we're going to rethink some things" announcements, last week the organization sent out a press release explaining the latest changes, which include Garry McGuire Jr. being named president and CEO in place of Arthur Jacobus, and chief marketing and development officer Larry Tsai stepping down to make way for new hires to come. Joining the organization is Andrea Robinson, who will take over Copia's wine-education program. We're not saying Copia should throw in the towel or anything, since its mission is a good one. But we have to wonder just how many facelifts this place will get before it becomes Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and a Reality TV Dating show.

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