On a summer trip to Piedmont in Italy, Seattle-based filmmaker Will Miceli fell in love with the abundance of great wine and food in the region. But the story of the Abbona family, the owners of Piedmont’s Marchesi di Barolo winery, was what truly won his heart. When it came down to choosing a subject for Wine Spectator’s 2018 Video Contest, spotlighting these vintners was a no-brainer.“I [wanted] viewers to get a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the family when they let their guard down,” Miceli told Wine Spectator. “It's cute how they interact with each other, especially while watching a Juventus soccer match in the family room.”He captured that vision in “The Soul of Barolo,” the winning video in this year’s contest, chosen by a vote of WineSpectator.com visitors. Running a family business is no small feat, as Miceli makes evident, and Ernesto and Anna Abbona and their adult children, Valentina and Davide, all live busy lives. But the family makes time to catch up over lunch on the terrace.“We all gather together around the table to eat, chat about our lives and make new plans—a very Italian concept and a special family time with which we grew up and that we truly cherish,” said Valentina. “That’s why we recreated that moment of pure magic on film.”When Miceli wasn’t behind the camera to capture those moments, he was joining the Abbonas for meals. It wasn’t long before they deemed him an honorary member of the family.“Davide makes the best tiramisu, my favorite dessert,” said Miceli. “I also got to sit in [Ernesto’s] seat, eat his food and, best of all, drink the 1958 Barolo. It was like a dream.”Miceli has won two full weekend passes to Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience, where the video will be screened for more than 1,000 of the event’s attendees.The second-place winner, “I am Brian Benson,” keeps family at the forefront. Benson of Brian Benson Cellars shares the story of how he went from helping at his grandfather’s vineyard as a kid to running his own winery in California’s Paso Robles region alongside his wife.“I want viewers to see Brian as an interesting and very passionate winemaker by the choices in quality of fruit and his process,” filmmaker Eric Paczkowski told Wine Spectator. From the Los Angeles area, Paczkowski met Benson during a wine-tasting trip to Paso Robles with friends several years ago and thought he would make an inspiring subject.The theme of family, mixed with romance, carries through to the third-place winner, “Amore Amarone,” which takes viewers on the journey of a husband and wife as they leave the kids at home to take their dream vacation. After years of promising to take the trip, the couple finally ventures to Italy to rekindle their passion, for each other and for the country’s wines.“Going to Italy as a 10-year wedding anniversary did wonders for our marriage,” said Duane Fogwell, an Australian film editor now based in Los Angeles. “We learnt to slow down from our hectic lives, and that it’s OK to have a glass or two of Amarone at lunch.”There’s something for everyone to enjoy amid the 2018 contest finalists and honorable mentions: They will make you laugh, feel nostalgic (and perhaps inspired), and might teach you something new about the world of wine. Watch all the winners, finalists and honorable mentions share how wine won their hearts.
Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union, celebrity power couple on court, stage and crushpad, had a Napa-good time this week when they came to town to blend a new 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon for Wade Cellars, the veteran NBA All-Star's winery partnership with the Pahlmeyer family. While in the valley, Wade made the most of his trip, checking in on the vineyards where he sources his grapes with Wade Cellars winemaker Jon Keyes. "We spent some time walking the rows, eating grapes off the vine, and discussing vines and vineyards in general," Keyes told Unfiltered. "[Wade] has been super interested in the process from vine to bottle, and he got to experience a lot of it! He even got to drink a birth-year wine, 1982 Cos-d’Estournel."The jaunt was more than just business for the wine-loving basketball star (or is he more basketball-playing vintner?). Wade and Union—actor, author of memoir We're Going to Need More Wine and herself a sometime cellar-dabbler—also paid visits to other nearby wineries, including Futo, where they took in a leisurely wine-tasting tour, and Failla, where they got put to work. Union showed off her skills at the sorting table, while Wade fulfilled a longtime off-court bucket-list item by stomping some rookie Pinot Noir grapes. Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger Sip Wine, Saber Bottles in NapaNew Hollywood lovebirds Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger also hit up and lit up Napa wine country this week on a VIP visit to Rutherford's Round Pond Estate. Pratt (Andy from Parks and Recreation; gruff reluctant hero/dinosaur guy in Jurassic World) and Schwarzenegger (eldest scion in the Terminator/governor line of Schwarzeneggers) tasted wines and snapped some pics with friends and family. Courtesy of Round Pond The couple, bubbly In town for Sunday's Mayor's Gala Benefiting the Leaven, which helps bring after-school mentoring and tutoring programs to low-income neighborhoods, the Schwarzenegger-Pratt posse visited the Napa winery on the recommendation of a friend. According to Round Pond co-owner Miles MacDonnell, the group kicked off the visit with a toast of Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, followed by a tasting of a variety of Round Pond offerings, including the Rosato di Nebbiolo, Sauvignon Blanc and “Gravel Series” Scholar's Gate Cabernet Sauvignon. The Guardians of the Galaxy star even tried his hand at sabering a bottle, though the first attempt was, in his words, an "unprecedented failure." (He got it right eventually.) "They were incredibly gracious guests and an absolute blast to spend time with, not to mention unbelievably sweet with our kids (who were all in awe of Star-Lord)," MacDonnell told Unfiltered. "We are looking forward to their next visit."For (RED) Charity Bottle, Artist Laolu Senbanjo Thinks in Black and WhiteChampagne vending machines? How embarrassingly 2017! New York Fashion Week is here again, and while some may have opted for the classic effervescent wine accessory this fall, vodka house Belvedere took advantage of the occasion to unveil a new bottle design that just might rival this season's looks on the runway: a limited-edition get-up with a full sleeve of artwork by Nigerian artist/designer Laolu Senbanjo. (You might recognize his African tribal-style body art from Beyoncé's Grammy-winning Lemonade album-length video.) “When I find a new project, I search to reveal the inner beauty within each subject, and by stripping it down, anything can be my canvas,” Senbanjo told Unfiltered. Courtesy of Belvedere Mood: Poland? At Belvedere’s recent launch party for the new bottle at the Whitney Museum, Unfiltered had an up-close-and-personal view at the artist's many varied canvases—from the bottles on display to the models wearing his motifs. Sales of the Senbanjo-clad Belvedere ($30), will benefit the non-profit (RED) organization that raises money for the Global Fund to help HIV/AIDS relief efforts in Africa. “Before becoming an artist, Laolu was a human rights attorney in Nigeria focusing on AIDS atrocities against women,” Belvedere CEO Rodney Williams told Unfiltered. “We knew right away he’d be the perfect fit due to our shared beliefs.”New York Fashion Week's Hottest Accessory: Rosé BubblyArt bottles are one thing, but other quarters of New York Fashion Week aren't exactly known for exhibitions of sensible style. But there's at least one other #lewk from this season's festivities Unfiltered can get behind. Wearing an outfit straight from the designer Brandon Maxwell's runway show, which she had walked in the night before, supermodel Gigi Hadid showed up to Sunday night's Business of Fashion 500 gala sporting a clear plastic purse that seemed to only contain one item: a bottle of sparkling rosé. Instagram / @brandonmaxwell Nothing is blind in fashion, even wine tasting. No word on what kind of sparker it was, or who made it. (The label reads "Brandon Maxwell Spring Summer 2019," so you know it's part of the outfit, not just a BYO attempt gone wrong.) Here's hoping that Hadid at least shared the contents of her bag with other fashion-forward partygoers, and perhaps that Maxwell can create a custom tote for fellow designer and notorious wineglass "borrower" Rihanna.Wine Australia Shoots for Social Media Stardom with Chinese TwinfluencersIf you think you've seen a lot of Australian wine on the airwaves and interwebs lately, you're not crazy. First, Wine Australia tried going viral in the U.S., assisting with a Crocodile Dundee remake/spoof and Late Night segment wooing Amber Ruffin with Moscato and marmite. Now the organization's spendy creatives are training their sights (and a recent $50 million Australian grant for promoting Oz wine) on connecting with China's cool kids, through social media influencers the Chufei Churan twins, Yoni and Joyce, sometimes billed as the "Chinese Kardashians."For the occasion of Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall's 9.9 Global Wine and Spirits Festival, Yoni and Joyce were flown Down Under to put in the yeowoman's work of showing off Australia's wine wares to their 1 million followers on networks like Weibo (Chinese Instagram/Twitter/Myspace) and Taobao (Chinese eBay/Etsy/… Craigslist?). They hit up locales like the Sydney Fish Market and Koi Dessert Bar to taste everything from Yellow Tail bubbly to St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet, but a planned tour around vineyards in South Australia had to be scrapped over “extreme weather” concerns, as Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark explained to Unfiltered via email (it’s not harvesttime down there, at least). “Australian products are so premium,” the pair said in a statement provided to Unfiltered, of the trip. “Everything is such good quality, like the wine, food and even the water—it is so clean.” Wine Australia In the Southern Hemisphere, all selfies capture in portrait mode. Chufei (center) and Churan (right). While no influencer in the Middle Kingdom has more sway than the government over which wines get big sales and which get you sent to prison, Wine Australia's latest gambit goes well beyond squeezing its products into selfies with internet celebs and koalas: Tmall is an e-commerce outlet of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, which also owns Taobao. Australia sold $806 million US worth of wine in China in the past year, and Alibaba is one of the biggest retailers—and companies, full stop—on the planet. The two parties inked a deal at Vinexpo in May for a campaign to capitalize on "the strong engagement of Chinese consumers in online retail and their growing interest in Australian wine," said Clark. Kangaroos and "Kardashians" may prove to be the beginning of beautiful friendship.Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! 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