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