In American movies and TV since the early 1960s, Kurt Russell has had a durable career as an actor. Latterly he decided to get into wine, eschewing the use of his name and image and instead naming various wines for close family members. That his wine amounted to considerably more than a family affair was due to his association with Peter and Rebecca Work, who have been making wine at Ampelos Cellars since they planted their first 6ha in 2001. Despite the Works being initially resistant to the idea of a celebrity slapping his name on one of their wines – an unfounded fear in Russell’s case – they welcomed him and quickly found that he had a good palate and wanted to be properly involved.
‘ From the start, he really liked our wines,’ says Peter Work, ‘but I had said if you’re really interested, then prove it. Come down and take part in the whole process.’ Russell was interested. ‘ I knew what I wanted to do taste-wise,’ he recalls, ‘but I didn’t have any idea how to do it. Peter has developed into an expert winemaker. He has this fearlessness and openness. I love the way they farm.’
From this alliance came GoGi (Russell’s childhood nickname), a range including wines named Forbaz (Baz is his sister’s nickname) and Goldie (as in Hawn, his long-time partner). ‘ I thought slapping a name on a bottle that people might recognise was…not necessarily a good thing,’ Russell said at the time. ‘ I thought it was a drawback.’ Like Brad Pitt and Francis Ford Coppola, Russell cannot resist comparing movies with wines. ‘ The variety is the genre of movie,’ he says. ‘ The care in the winery is much like the casting, and the blending is the editing.’ And Kurt Russell’s wines sell out – even without his name on the label.
waving away the offending bottle and welcoming the gold-packaged Armand de Brignac ‘Ace of Spades’ cuvée in its place. Revenge served cold, you might say.
On a more wistful note, the marital break-up of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie left Château Miraval, the former couple’s Provence vineyard where they celebrated their 2014 wedding, in a kind of limbo. Charles Perrin, the estate’s vintner, sought to impose some continuity, saying: ‘We have long-term projects and have just released the latest vintage of rosé with our names, “bottled by Pitt, Jolie
Actor Kurt Russell
Right: rap star Jay Z, part-owner of the Armand de Brignac Champagne brand, produced by Cattier