Taste of the high-life: a mixed dozen celebrity wines

Decanter - - CELEBRITY VINTNERS -

Ar­mand de Brignac, Gold Brut, Cham­pagne, France NV 95 £ 250-£ 279.90 Har­rods, Harvey Ni­chols, He­do­nism, Sel­fridges, WoodWin­ters The flag­ship wine is equal parts of Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir with 20% of Pinot Me­u­nier – and a blend of three vin­tages: 2009, 2010 and 2012. The nose is full of rich aro­mas, with notes of white flow­ers and crème patis­sière. How­ever, the palate is crisp, fresh and del­i­cate with a lovely creamy tex­ture. It’s el­e­gant, re­fined and very stylish. A pleas­ant com­bi­na­tion of power and con­cen­tra­tion con­trast­ing with fi­nesse and ele­gance. While the dosage is 9g/l, it feels much drier, and this is prob­a­bly due to its firm spine of acid­ity. Drink 2017-2020 Al­co­hol 12.5%

Trump Win­ery, SP Re­serve Brut,

Mon­ti­cello, Vir­ginia, USA 2008 91 N/A UK www. klugeesta­teon­line.com No­tably more con­cen­trated and com­plex than the reg­u­lar sparkling Blanc de Blancs, with an ex­pres­sive bou­quet of warm bread, ap­ples, tart or­ange and quince. Deep, full-bod­ied and re­fined palate with an el­e­gant mousse and nice per­sis­tence. Stylish and well-made, served blind this could com­pete with a lot of grande mar­que NV bot­tlings. Drink 2016-2020 Alc 12%

Ger­ard Dé­par­dieu, Château de Tigné Les Mail­lones, An­jou

Blanc, Loire, France 2015 91 N/A UK www.chateaudetigne.com Larger than life French ac­tor and bon-viveur Gérard Depar­dieu sur­ley needs lit­tle in­tro­duc­tion. After his out­stand­ing per­for­mance as a doomed hunch­back farmer in the film ver­sion of Mar­cel Pag­nol’s Jean de Florette, Depar­dieu took on farm­ing for real by ac­quir­ing Château Tigné in 1989. This Chenin Blanc reveals apri­cot and quince aro­mas and hints of grass. A tex­tured and gen­er­ous palate with weight and creami­ness from the oak and ripe white fruit char­ac­ters with a zesty fin­ish. Drink 2017 Alc 12.5%

Blen­heim Vine­yards, Painted White,

Vir­ginia, USA 2015 89 N/A UK www. blenheimvine­yards.com Dave Matthews, a mu­si­cian and singer more prom­i­nent in the US than in Europe, is known for a style of mu­sic de­scribed by some crit­ics as lack­ing in per­son­al­ity. How­ever, this wine is the op­po­site of that: it’s full of per­son­al­ity, re­veal­ing flo­ral scents and white peach and apri­cot fruit aro­mas on the nose. With an aro­matic style, it is ex­pres­sive and vi­brant, but has a touch of sweet­ness on the fin­ish. Very en­joy­able wine with a cool la­bel, de­signed by the man him­self. Drink 2017 Alc 13% Mi­raval, Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France 2016 92 £ 16-£ 19.99 Berry Bros & Rudd, Booths, Exel, Hand­ford, Harvey Ni­chols, He­do­nism, Ma­jes­tic, Mil­lésima, Sains­bury's, WoodWin­ters Its fate may be un­cer­tain, though it still be­longs to Brad Pitt and An­gelina Jolie cur­rently, but there’s no doubt about the qual­ity of this fresh, el­e­gant and wild straw­berry-scented dry rosé. Drink 2017-2019 Alc 13% In­glenook, Ru­bi­con, Ruther­ford, Napa Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, USA 2013 93 £ 150-£ 215 Berry Bros & Rudd, Hand­ford, Harvey Ni­chols, He­do­nism, L’Assem­blage, WoodWin­ters Dark black-red in colour, with brood­ing but al­lur­ing aro­mas – quiet black fruits framed with the scents of spice, of the for­est, of cool earth. Dry, vivid and el­e­gant, the fruit flavours are pre­cise and al­most zesty, hint­ing at cur­rant, pome­gran­ate and cit­rus rather than the ex­u­ber­ant plum or black­berry more typ­i­cal of Napa. The tan­nins are re­fined and stealthy – not quite cash­mere, but cer­tainly suede. Give it time to un­fold. Drink 2018-2025 Alc 13.8% ➢

and Per­rin”, on it.’ In hap­pier times, Pitt cred­ited the in­flu­ence of Mi­raval with turn­ing him into a farmer, even as he likened the process of wine­mak­ing to that of pro­duc­ing a Hol­ly­wood block­buster: ‘Let’s ap­proach it like a film, and let’s make some­thing we can be proud of and peo­ple can en­joy.’

The celebri­ties whose es­tates I have vis­ited (and some I have so far only in­ter­viewed) have some­times sur­prised me and oc­ca­sion­ally dis­ap­pointed, but usu­ally I’ve been fas­ci­nated to see how wine­mak­ing reveals some­thing of their char­ac­ter. From Cop­pola’s rather in­ac­ces­si­ble wine and tourism con­glom­er­ate, through An­dretti’s warm ex­er­cise in re­cre­at­ing his lost Italian youth, to the ad­mirably stream­lined Dis­ney wine in­dus­trial ven­ture, ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent ap­proach.

Over­whelm­ingly the route seems to be one of the as­pi­ra­tional ama­teur hook­ing up with a sym­pa­thetic crafts­man who wants a gen­uine part­ner­ship. ‘Get­ting in­volved’ can range from pas­sive opin­ion to proac­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion.

There are un­ex­pected sur­prises, oc­ca­sion­ally pleas­ant and some­times less so. And al­ready I know that the new gen­er­a­tion of celebrity wine­mak­ers will be dif­fer­ent from the past ones. Nick Wise is the au­thor of Celebrity Vine­yards (Wel­come Books, 2013). His next book, The Wines and Winer­ies of Ore­gon’s Wil­lamette Val­ley (Om­nibus Press), writ­ten with Linda Sun­shine, is due out in Au­gust

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