Enth Degree February 2006

News and Notes from the World of Wine.



Published:

The Enth Degree

Desperate Housewife Dishes

 
Eva Longoria portrays Latin sexpot Gabrielle Solis on the ABC megahit Desperate Housewives. She was named one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People and the "#1 Hottest Woman in the World" on Maxim's 2005 annual "Hot 100." The youngest of four sisters who grew up on a ranch in Corpus Christi, Texas, Longoria graduated from Texas A&M-Kingsville, then achieved relatively quick success in Hollywood, landing roles in several daytime, and then nighttime, soaps. She will soon be seen in feature films, including Harsh Times (co-starring Christian Bale) and The Sentinel (with Michael Douglas).

Wine Enthusiast: What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Eva Longoria: Olives in New York, where Todd English is the chef. I also love Katsuya in Los Angeles and Mi Tierra in San Antonio. At Katsuya, my favorite dish is the spicy tuna on crispy rice. They burn the rice and then put the tuna on it with a jalapeño.
I love spicy food, and you can only get this dish at this restaurant. Mi Tierra also has great Tex-Mex and in San Antonio, you have to eat good Tex-Mex.

WE: Being from Texas, is Mexican food, Tex-Mex or barbecue an occasional indulgence?

EL: It's a constant!

WE: Yet you're very slender. Are you one of those lucky, naturally slender people, or a work-hard-at-it slender person?

EL: I'm genetically small. My mom is tiny and small boned, and I inherited her petite frame. I do work hard at staying healthy, but not necessarily skinny.

WE: Now that you're hugely famous, is privacy in restaurant settings a consideration?

EL: Depending on where you go, privacy can be an issue. However, I think the quality of food is much more important than privacy and location. It's definitely more a matter of the whole dining experience.

WE: When you go to L.A. restaurants, are you starstruck? Get at least a bit excited at seeing actors you admire?

EL: I'm not starstruck at all. I'm actually pretty numb to that. I just love enjoying restaurants with my closest friends.

WE: Are you a wine drinker?

EL: I'm hardly a drinker at all, but Tony [Parker, Longoria's boyfriend] just started introducing me to wine. I'm definitely starting with the whites. I prefer still to sparkling. I love a good Pinot Grigio. And I love French wine.

WE: Do you have the time, talent or inclination to cook at home? What do you like to prepare?

EL: Yes. I love preparing Mexican food. I cook all the time.

WE: Has your transformation from daytime TV star to primetime altered your life in terms of restaurants, meals, diet approach and things like that?

EL: We have better catering on Desperate Housewives so my diet has definitely changed in a good way, due to what is available on set 24/7.

WE: How do you feel about your character, Gabrielle?

EL: I love playing Gabrielle because she has no moral boundaries. As an actor, it is a lot more fun to play a character like this. I like a woman who is fun and fearless. Gabrielle does what she wants, when she wants and how she wants. She is a lot of fun to play.

Uncorkings

Next time someone says you hang out with snobs, take it as a compliment—that is, if you go to S.N.O.B. (Sonoma, Napa or Beyond), a new wine bar in San Francisco. Hang out on the wine barrel furniture in a laid-back atmosphere with a glass of vino. 415.440.SNOB · Wine country has it's first cheese bar at the girl & the fig's new Salon de Fromage in Sonoma. Coming soon: cheese flights and cheese pairings with FIG FOOD, a line of cheese-friendly condiments. www.thegirlandthefig.com · Hate having to flag down the barkeep to refill your glass? Two German students have created a plastic beer mat, complete with sensor chips to measure
the weight of the glass, to signal to bartend-
ers when your glass is empty. · North Lake Wines and Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. have announced an exclusive import agreement. In addition to Mouton-Cadet, North Lake will also represent Vin de Pays d'Oc wine and Escudo Rojo. · The San Francisco restaurant Incanto is the first California restaurant to receive "Certified Humane" certification. www.incanto.biz.

—Samara D. Genee

 

 
Barrels Go High Tech

 
Every few years, new technology-based products come along and blast us out of our regular patterns: The Internet. Email. TiVo. IPods.

Now, winemaking takes advantage of a new technological breakthrough: BarrelTrak™. The system combines Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), wireless data transfer, a PDA and a wireless data wand, all integrated with existing winery software packages. BarrelTrak allows greater control of individual barrels, saves time and reduces human error.

How does it work? Each of a winery's barrels is fitted with an RFID tag the size of a quarter. BarrelTrak records the history of the wine in the barrel: the grape(s), the vineyard(s), the winemaking process. This data remains with the barrel, becoming part of its unique résumé. Kris Curran, winemaker at Sea Smoke Cellars in Lompoc, California, has been working with TagStream, Inc., the developer and manufacturer of the BarrelTrak system, as a test site for two years.

Says Curran, "a big benefit of BarrelTrak is the availability of information at the barrel. We know, in real time, all current information about the wine and the barrel. It also saves us two to three hours a day of paperwork and data entry."

Sea Smoke considered barcode labels to replace its system of clipboards and handwritten notes. But they hold limited amounts of data and are prone to mold and tearing. Changes require reprinting and remounting new labels. Now, notes of any length are recorded on the PDA and sent via wireless router directly to the Sea Smoke computer.

A complete system for a small- to medium-sized winery costs about $10,000. Two large wineries
are currently testing BarrelTrak, which is the
invention of Peter Taylor, a winemaker and CEO
of TagStream, Inc. In five years, BarrelTrak is
expected to replace most other forms of barrel management. —Patricia Savoie

Margaux Rows Over its Vineyards

 
It's taken 10 years, and many thousands of dollars. Finally, a commission examining the size and structure of the Margaux appellation has presented its report. And the report has generated anger, controversy and fear among some famous chateau owners that they could lose millions of dollars.

The study, carried out under the supervision of the INAO, the body that governs French appellations, was set up to study whether the existing Margaux-appellation vineyards should all re-main within the appellation. It is proposing that some vineyards on the fringes of the appellation should be declassified to Haut-Médoc, while others in Haut-Médoc, considered by the commission to be of better quality, will be up-graded to Margaux.

Margaux is the largest of the four famous commune appellations in the Médoc region of Bordeaux (the others are Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac). For years, experts have argued about whether vineyards in some of the neighboring villages (Tayac, Soussans and Arsac) were good enough to shelter under the prestigious umbrella of the Margaux appellation. And although vineyards in these villages are not all affected by the new proposals, it is here that most of the proposed changes will occur.

"We have asked the experts to reconsider," Gonzague Lurton, owner of Château Durfort-Vivens and president of the Margaux wine growers' syndicat, told Wine Enthusiast. "Our problem is that some of the areas that are to be declassified have exactly the same soil type as those which remain classified. We do not understand this and have asked for these to be reconsidered."

It all comes down to money. The average value of an acre of Margaux is around a million dollars, and the value of an Haut-Médoc acre is half that. Losing even 3.6 acres is a serious blow to a chateau's balance sheet.

Two of the top chateaus affected by the proposals are Château Prieuré-Lichine and Château Siran. Patrick Bongard, director of Prieuré-Lichine, said that "the commission has proposed to declassify 12 of our 167 acres into Haut-Médoc. We can agree with 3.6 acres, because they are wetter than the rest of Margaux, but we cannot agree with the other 8.4 acres. They have the same soil type as many other parts of Margaux which are staying in the appellation."

Now Margaux is impatient for the commission to report again. "We want them to be quick," says Lurton. "We need a decision as soon as possible." —Roger Voss
 

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