It has been a dry five years for Bachelor Wine Nation since Courtney stole winemaker-bachelor Ben F. (known off-screen as Envolve Winery's Ben Flajnik) away from us. So Unfiltered had reason to rejoice when, midway through Monday's episode of The Bachelorette, star Rachel Lindsay whisked her three final suitors—Eric, Peter and Bryan—off to romantic Rioja, Spain! (We know it's romantic, because the cast pronounces Rioja “romantic” no fewer than five times in the span of 15 minutes.)
The rest of the episode is a veritable fiesta of vino y amor: First, our girl and happy-go-lucky personal trainer Eric take in the region’s vineyard vistas via helicopter. “It’s like wine country on steroids,” Rachel muses, while Eric proclaims Rioja “the most romantic place I've ever been in my whole life.”
Then came Unfiltered’s favorite scene of the night: tasting time in the old caves at the Eguren Ugarte winery. Rach and eligible “business owner”* Peter (*also a personal trainer) get serenaded with a Spanish love song by Eguren’s charismatic owner, Vitorino Eguren, taste through some reds—rated “so good” by Rachel—and are given a key to their very own “Raquel y Pedro” wine locker.
Peter selects a bottle of what Vitorino told Unfiltered is his estate’s signature Tempranillo "Cincuenta" bottling, and the pair enjoy a glass outside in the sun. And then a final stop at the most romantic part of the winery: That would be the crushpad, obviamente, where Raquel y Pedro perform the delicate dance of grape stomping.
The cliffhanger episode doesn’t even get to chiropractor Bryan’s date—Unfiltered has learned the Aug. 7 finale was filmed at Bodegas Ontañon and Viñedos del Contino—but if we had a rose to give, it would definitely go to Vitorino. “It was a pleasure being chosen for this date!” the singing vintner told us. “I am honored.”
Years ago, multi-platinum-selling crooner Josh Groban caught his first big break filling in for Andrea Bocelli, and now, like the Italian tenor, the American baritone has expanded his range into wine. Groban's latest performance is a duet with a boutique Sonoma winery in support of a charity close to his heart. The result of the partnership is the Halleck Vineyard 2014 “Find Your Light,” a limited-release Pinot Noir with all proceeds benefitting Groban’s children's arts–education foundation of the same name.
“It was kind of a serendipitous thing that happened with [Ross] Halleck, that we were able to discover his wine,” Groban told Unfiltered. “It’s delicious; he doesn’t produce a huge amount of it and what he does produce is really fantastic, specifically the Pinots. And he’s also very philanthropic; he’s a big arts education supporter.”
Groban announced his new wine venture last month during his annual Find Your Light Gala at City Winery New York, and offered attendees a chance to bid on 25 cases of the 100-case production. “All the paddles went up. The producers of The Great Comet, the Broadway show I was in, bought a case for the cast,” said Groban. “It was so fun to see people like Brian Stokes Mitchell, Idina Menzel, Jason Mraz—they were all bidding, and it was really gratifying to see.”
The remaining wine is available for presale on the Halleck website for $50. For Act II, the singer will be heading to Halleck’s winery next month to blend a new vintage. “This is going be a continued partnership,” Groban said.
Groban had actually been looking for a winemaker partner for a decade but never quite struck the right chord. Or to use Halleck's metaphor: “He’d gone down the aisle with a few, but nothing had been consummated," the vintner told Unfiltered via email.
Last weekend, golfer Jordan Spieth defied odds when he won the British Open and claimed the championship's coveted Claret Jug as his own. But it's not his roller-coaster victory that may have surprised superstitious sports fans: Back in 2015, when Zack Johnson won the title, Spieth celebrated his golf buddy's victory by drinking out of the revered trophy—a big no-no, since touching the trophy without earning it is thought to bring bad luck. But Spieth proved impervious to the Claret Jug jinx and now has a full year to sup from his prize for breakfast, lunch and dinner, should he please. Indeed, days after his return to Dallas, Spieth was spotted onstage at a concert, where he and country music stars Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen took turns swigging a mystery beverage from the gilded goblet.
Between juggling handles, shakers and salty customers, bartending can be a pretty taxing gig. Where to turn when you need a release? The Bartending Boxing Organization (BBO) has finally come up with an answer that involves a slug of something besides "the usual": The BBO rounded up a group of drink slingers, subjected them to a 90-day fitness and dieting program, and then pitted them against each other in the ring, all to promote healthy living in the drinks business. (There was also a trip to the Tequila Cazadores distillery, a partner in the event, to soften the blows.)
The first card of matches ended July 21, with victors hailing from Otium Bar, Gwen Bar, Big Bar and Normandie Club in Los Angeles, and Prohibition Bar in Houston. But everyone's a winner when you're pursuing fitness and sportsmanship! Mitch Bushell of Gwen Bar, one of the BBO champions, said in press release, “I had never thought I might be able to break the cycle of drinking and smoking; I had never cared enough to. But, the motivation of being humbled on the daily to prepare for combat is unlike any I have ever had.” Next month, New York and Chicago bartenders will duke it out, with the national championship match set for November.
There's no worse place for a politician to lose face than a cook-off competition, in Unfiltered's humble opinion. The seventh-annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in Queens, N.Y., was in full swing last weekend, when the competition for (who can make the) best jerk took a dramatic turn.
Defending champion and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had won the coveted Dutch Pot trophy for his jerk prowess two years running, was challenged by Lisa Hanna, a current Member of Parliament in Jamaica and Miss World 1993.
"I love jerk. From the first time I tried it, I fell in love," mused the mayor. When the emcee turned to Hanna for her credentials, asking, "What do you know about jerk?" the MP simply deadpanned: "I'm from Saint Ann." A spicy burn!
After taste-testing both contestants' dishes, there was a clear winner: The swarm of judges in the audience cheered Hanna's name, and the trophy was ceremoniously passed over. "It's a pleasure to be here, and to be around so many Jamaicans," said Hanna in her victory speech. "I know that many of you miss home, but at the same time when all of us come here together it's like we are at home, in New York. I want to thank you for really keeping the flag of Jamaica flying high."
The defeated mayor's office could not be reached for comment.
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