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LaMotte

La Motte Wine Estate Vineyards.

The Blushing Bride, a rare white or pink flower with silky, pointy petals, is somewhat of a legend in the Franschhoek Valley. The story goes that it was discovered in the surrounding mountains in 1773 and came by its romantic name from its use in a rather romantic tradition. A French Huguenot farmer who was in love would wear this flower in his lapel when he decided to propose to the girl he fancied. The pinker the flower, the more serious his intentions were, causing the bride-to-be to blush at the sight of the flower.
 
Sadly, as with other near-extinct fynbos varieties in the region, the Blushing Bride disappeared from sight for many years. It was rediscovered about a century ago and since then conservationists have been determined to return the iconic flower to its former glory.
 
Today Blushing Brides, rare disas and various kinds of proteas are being brought back to life on the La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek, where they can be seen in full bloom in the estate’s large Protea Garden. La Motte’s proud collection of rare flower varieties that are lovingly cultivated and re-established in the area is one of the reasons for it to have been awarded Champion status in the Biodiversity in Wine initiative (BWI).
 
Although best known for its international wine brand, La Motte is an estate that has conservation and sustainability at its centre. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the beautiful Organic Walk guiding visitors through the vineyards, fynbos nursery and gardens on the farm and concluding with a tasting of the organically grown Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc.
 
The walk offers visitors the opportunity to see how passionate La Motte is about sustainable farming and conservation. Visitors have the chance to see and smell the Protea Garden and stroll through the sustainably farmed and organically grown vineyards, the indigenous landscaped gardens (this time of year a carpet of lush green and soft purple and white), the nursery where micro greens and orchids are cultivated, and the biodynamic vegetable and herb gardens that supply the Estate’s award-winning restaurant and farm shop with fresh seasonal produce.
 
Head Chef Chris Erasmus and his colleagues at Pierneef à La Motte restaurant visit the garden in their gumboots every morning to pick out the freshest seasonal produce for their signature Cape Winelands cuisine. Chef Chris also guides on what to plant in the garden and places orders ahead of season. Beautiful things are grown, like purple speckled beans, cucumber-shaped aubergines, peas, watercress, yellow and purple carrots, radicchio, kohlrabi, sour fig, rocket, sweet basil and the fine succulent Pork Bush (“Spekboom”) which can be used in salads.
 
La Motte has been farming organically since 2007 and in 2009 received EU and NOP organic certification by SGS in France and NOP organic certification by LACON in Germany. Everything on the farm bears testament to this ethos.  La Motte has long been a leader in flora conservation work and sustainable, eco-friendly farming practices in South Africa and this commitment has just earned it the title of South Africa’s top practitioner of sustainable wine tourism by the internationally respected Great Wine Capitals of the World (GWC) network. GWC annually awards top performers in wine tourism in ten wine regions of the world, including South Africa. 
 
La Motte was also the overall winner of the South African competition for the second year running, making it the best wine tourism player in the country, thanks to its acclaimed restaurant, art museum, architecture and wine.
 
A closer look at how things are done on the farm reveals a rare attention to detail in every aspect of the farm’s life. The Rupert family and its wider La Motte family are visibly passionate about sustainable farming and conservation.
 
More than ten percent of the land is dedicated to conservation. The entire farming operation is set up to be self-sustainable, which means that almost everything that is needed to keep the farm running is produced on the farm. Everything is about quality over quantity – a method that takes time to yield results, but pays dividends in the long run.
 
One case in point is how water is treated on La Motte as a precious and limited resource. Water used in the wine cellar is treated and purified using natural methods only, never with chemicals. The farm dam provides all the water the farm needs and receives its water from the Kastaiingsrivier and rain. The farm uses drip irrigation to save water and water meters are used throughout the farm to monitor water usage and catch leaks.
 
Special attention is also paid to the rehabilitation of the soil to keep it healthy and chemical-free. No chemicals have been used on the farm for the last seven years. Special earthworms are fed the kitchen waste to recycle it into concentrated compost that is diluted with water and used across the farm to nourish the soil and plants. Only natural methods are used for pest control and fertilisation. Dry mulch is used to keep out weeds and wet mulch is used to keep in moisture.
 
Visitors can extend the Organic Walk by taking the 5km hiking trail into the surrounding mountains.
 
The herbs grown on the farm, including lavender and buchu, are used for the extraction of essential oils that are used to make the range of Arômes de La Motte body products sold in the farm shop.
 
As CEO Hein Koegelenberg explains, La Motte took the path of sustainability at around the turn of the millennium. This meant that quality and consistency would come first. The whole La Motte experience has become testament to this new sustainable way of thinking, and today the estate’s international awards prove that it was a journey the international wine tourism industry supports and honours. It is an ethos that enjoys sharing its passions with guests in a way that both entertains and educates and in the end it has winners on all sides: the estate, its people, its visitors, the environment, the local tourism sector, and the regional economy.

Meet Natalie Oliveros as a vintner.

Meet Natalie Oliveros as a vintner.

Plus, chef Emeril Lagasse honored for taking charity up a notch, Paris’ Elysée undertakes wine austerity, Napa’s philanthropic 1 percenters, and more

“When they showed up, I just thought they were hard-up for celebrities,” joked Robert Kamen at the April book launch of Celebrity Vineyards at the Bowery Hotel in New York. Kamen protested to Unfiltered that, as a screenwriter—albeit the screenwriter of the Karate Kid series, Taps and A Walk in the Clouds—he just sits in a darkened room writing stuff all day (celebrities: They’re just like Unfiltered!), and pardoned himself to sign a copy of the book “for a minute while I be a celebrity.” But Kamen was a vintner before his fame, purchasing 280 acres on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma with the money from his first screenplay, in the late 1970s. “What can I do with all the money I make as a screenwriter? I bury it in the ground.”

While Kamen’s story goes back further than that of most of the celebrities in the book, all were selected, according to author Nick Wise, because they were “serious about some parts, whether picking the vineyards or the final blends.” Other famous vintners profiled in Celebrity Vineyards: Francis Ford Coppola, chef Charlie Palmer, Dan Aykroyd, Antonio Banderas, Fess Parker, race car drivers Mario Andretti and Randy Lewis, coach Dick Vermeil and Natalie Oliveros, perhaps better known to Unfiltered readers as adult-film phenom Savanna Samson. “They have to bring out the whole ‘Savanna Samson’ thing, but I do make the wine,” Oliveros said. “I was there every month in 2012.” Oliveros is co-owner of Brunello estate La Fiorita with Roberto Cipressi; the 2006 riserva earned a classic 95 points on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale. Wise, who has worked as a wine merchant and entertainment writer, mused that winemaking is an attractive second profession to “a lot of technical people, a lot of golfers and race car drivers. That translates into the technicality that goes into wine—what pH, what tannin level.” As for Kamen, his approach began with slightly less precision: As he tells it, his “dope dealer” in the ’70s dreamed of planting an organic vineyard on North Coast slopes, but no one would bite at the time. Kamen took a chance and was among the first to go organic in the state. His original viticulturist is still on staff.

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“If you think about it, good wine, good sex — they’re both feel-good things.”

 

Natalie Oliveros poses in her apartment in New York

Natalie Oliveros.

 

 

There’s a good chance that you might recognize Natalie Oliveros, a.k.a. Savanna Samson, from her roles in such award-winning adult films as The Masseuse with Jenna Jameson, The New Devil in Miss Jones and Debbie Does Dallas… Again. (We’ll spare you the hyperlinks). But would you believe us if we said we knew her instead from her work with acclaimed winemaker Roberto Cipresso of Fattoria La Fiorita? Didn’t think so. Oliveros started working with Cipresso in 2006 and has since become a partner in the winery. The newest release, La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2006, will be released in early 2013. She talked to us about her transition from adult film to Italian wine.

Have you always been into wine?
When I was still in the adult industry, I thought making wine would be a way to carry on a legacy, something my family and I could be proud of. But it actually brought me back to my roots. When I was a little girl, I made wine in the basement with my dad. My sister and I would take turns churning grapes. We would get in trouble because neighborhood boys were sneaking in to drink the wine. So, I always had an affinity to it.

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A single bottle of 1788 Cognac from the cellars of the historic La Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris has sold for £17,825 at a Christie’s auction.

Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine Clos de Griffier Café Anglais 1788
Fetching over four times its estimate, the Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine Clos de Griffier Café Anglais 1788 is identical to the Cognac that was accidentally smashed by a customer at The Plaboy Club in London this July.

The bottle was destined to form part of the world’s most expensive cocktail, mixed by world-renowned bartender Salvatore Calabrese at The Playboy Club.

Dutch spirits collector Bay van der Bunt snapped up all six lots of Clos de Griffier at £17,825 each, to add to his Cognac collection, one of the largest in the world.

Van der Bunt was also the highest bidder for two Jeroboams of Grande Fine Champagne Cognac ‘La Tour d’Argent’ 1805, bought for for £23,000 each.
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THE FREEMASONS are said to be one of the most secretive societies in the world. They have many mysterious rituals, special symbols and words and at least 12 different handshakes (some of which can be seen on YouTube). Some wine societies are almost as secretive, although their members are less likely to employ a special handshake than they are to break into song.

Two of the most exclusive wine societies, La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and the Commanderie de Bordeaux, have special songs that accompany an evening of drinking and are delivered in French (naturellement). The Tastevin tune is a traditional Burgundy chanson, while the Commanderie song, “Toujours Bordeaux,” is a more recent work. Created in 1998 by Eric Vogt, the music-loving maître (or head) of the Boston Commanderie chapter, the song won a prize at a competition in Bordeaux. (The prize was Mr. Vogt’s “weight in Bordeaux,” or 10 cases of wine, although Mr. Vogt maintained that the prize committee erred “on the generous side.”)

The Commanderie ditty is a fairly rousing number and, save for a few references to the region’s major varietals and great châteaux, it might well have been my college drinking song. On the other hand, the group I saw singing “Toujours” at the French ambassador’s residence in Washington a few weeks ago didn’t look like anyone I knew in college. The members, mostly in their 60s, were an accomplished group of women and men with careers in government, law, banking and finance—and possessed an impressive knowledge of French.
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