Irreverent Swedish DJ duo Dada Life—Olle Cornéer and Stefan Engblom—have long preached a diet of Champagne and bananas, a questionable-at-best wine-and-food combo that they nonetheless have on hand at every performance. Nothing if not committed to their act, the pair has created a bona fide Champagne Dada Life Brut Reserve based on rigorous enological tests in their back-alley lab, where they diligently sampled bottle after bottle—to determine which achieved the farthest arc when shaken and sprayed.
"If you review how far this Champagne sprays, I would tell you, it would get a 100-point score," Cornéer told Unfiltered. "I mean, that's how you use Champagne in Dada Land. You enjoy it in the most possible ways—drink it, spray it on the crowds." With a trajectory of around 30 feet, Dada Life's fizz outsprays a handful of unnamed luxury Champagne brands, according to Cornéer, based on his comparative sprayings.
Like fellow hitmaker-winemakers Jay Z and Jeezy, Dada—upstanding European Unioneers as they are—honored the decree that Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France. "Launching our own Champagne was something we knew we had to do—it's in our logo, it's at our shows," said Cornéer. "A few years back, we teamed up with a winemaker in Napa and made a sparkling wine, and we were happy with the results, but in the end, if you can't say it's Champagne, it's not worth it. So, we started all over again, and here we are today."
The Champagne is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from around the Marne Valley and Côte des Bar. Though Cornéer called the region's strict approval process "complicated and bureaucratic," the bottles are ready to ship around the U.S. for $50 a pop. Go ahead and have a blast.
Dada Life isn't alone among musicians getting into French bubbly, though their commitment to Champagne is strongest (and to bananas, unrivaled). House music megastar Steve Aoki is teaming with Provence/Burgundy wine brand Luc Belaire to hype the launch of its new cuvée, Luc Belaire Gold. Aoki joins the ranks of more than 200 Luc Belaire brand ambassadors, including Rick Ross (a.k.a. Ricky Rozay, who is chiefly responsible for the sparkling rosé part of the Belaire portfolio) and DJ Khaled. "I'm a longtime fan of Belaire and have already worked with the brand on a series of music videos last year," Aoki said in a press release.
Meanwhile, "Rack City" rapper Tyga opted to follow in the proud American tradition of blithely confusing any bubbled wine with Champagne. Last week, he posted an Instagram video featuring bottles of LeGrand La Vie Dorée Brut and Rosé—both of which have gold flakes suspended in the wine—captioning it, "My new champagne 24kt gold in the bottles yeeeeeeee." According to the just-trademarked brand's website, though, LeGrand is made at a "maison" in "Burgundy" founded in "1907." According to the bottle, it is, at least, a "produit de France." Perhaps having taken the time to learn the wine's history, Tyga omitted the "champagne" mention in a second post yesterday.
It’s a nice surprise when you find a prized bottle that you forgot you bought years ago, unopened in the depths of your cellar. The Liberty Hall Museum in Union, N.J., knows the feeling—except they misplaced a stash for centuries. During a six-month renovation period, the museum unearthed a hefty haul of Madeira made in the days of the Founders totaling about three cases of Madeira bottles from 1796 and 42 demijohns (large glass vats) from the 1820s, along with some assorted more youthful 19th-century bottles. They'd been in the house all along. “The family threw nothing away for 240 years,” director of museum operations Bill Schroh told Unfiltered.
Liberty Hall dates to 1772, when it served as the home of New Jersey's future first governor, William Livingston. When the house became a museum, the staff began renovations, dedicating a year each to a single room. Last year, it was the wine cellar's turn; it had been little used in seven decades. “Whatever was in there, no one really looked at,” said Schroh, and lo and behold, a bit of cellar inspection discovered cases hidden under other cases, holding the '96s. Schroh estimates they were sealed about a century ago, revealing surprisingly pristine bottles. (The demijohns were found in the attic.)
Liberty Hall president John Kean has tried one of the bottles from 1820, and all the vintages are now on display in the cellar. But the 1796s have yet to be enjoyed, and it’s not yet certain what the future of these historic wines will be. Like all good cellar raiders though, the staff appreciates that—all together now—wine is for the drinking! Another demijohn may be opened for the upcoming visit of, appropriately, Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. “That’s a possibility, sure,” said Schroh. “That’s an occasion to open a bottle!”
It's no secret that Pope Francis is a wine lover (if you ever invite him to your wedding, make sure to plan for enough wine). And in his opinion, there's too much plonk going around during the Eucharist in dioceses everywhere, and the food ain't great either.
In a recent open letter to church leaders, the pontiff's office beseeched officials to take the utmost care in ensuring the quality of the wine and wafers given to parishioners at communion. He reminisced back to the old days when religious communities baked the bread and made the wines themselves. Now, anyone with access to a computer can get their Eucharist wafer–fix in two Amazon clicks. God forbid!
The pope is clear on where he stands on the natural-wine debate: Eucharist wine must be "natural … pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances" (presumably that includes gold flakes). He also requires, however, that the wine "has not soured" by the time it reaches the lips of the faithful. So … sulfites, or no?
While Pope Francis may seem to have blessed one hipster trend, he rained damnation upon another: "Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist." No word on if Catholic celiacs can BYOH.
Before Jack Cakebread started filling bottles at Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, Calif., he was filling up rolls of film with vistas and portraits, mentored by the legendary Ansel Adams. Now, the family-owned winery is celebrating its connection to photography with an exhibition showcasing a selection of Cakebread’s prints.
Cakebread first caught the shutterbug while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the Strategic Air Command in the 1950s. “The Air Force tour in England and North Africa enabled him to devote time to developing his photographic skills, which he later honed while studying under the great Ansel Adams. It was a photography assignment in Napa in 1972 that led to his founding of Cakebread Cellars,” chairman, and son-of-Jack, Dennis Cakebread told Unfiltered via email.
Visitors can currently view the prints of pre-boom Napa Valley wilderness, as well as a portrait of Adams and Cakebread’s original Hasselblad camera, at the winery’s east addition tasting area.
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