Celebrity Wines? A must have accessory?
So what do you do once you have made your first few millions these days? Art, houses, fast cars, save the planet (yes please), adopt African children and fly them by private jet to London? Some of the most recent names that have made forays into the wine world are Beyoncé, Drew Barrymore, Fergie from Black Eyed Peas, Slayer, Motorhead, AC/DC and Josh Groban.
Visit my growing list of celebrity wines – I intend to keep it updated as I hear of more
For a growing number of celebrities (filmstars, musicians, sportstars) the latest must have accessory is their own celebrity wine label or even their own winery and vineyards. This is not a new phenomenon and some celebrities have been operating in the wine trade for a number of years. Many others are involved at a more superficial level and have their own labels or cuvées from existing wineries. A celebrity name on the label can be a big factor in selling the wine and can certainly be a big factor in getting the wine listed
The Godfather of Celebrity Wine?
With a family wine-making heritage stretching back to the Italy, one of the very first celebrities to get involved in the wine trade was Francis Ford Coppola. Perhaps we can lay the blame at his door for the rapidly expanding celebrity wine craze.
Francis Ford Coppola
One of the longest involved and probably the most serious players, Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Trilogy, Apocalypse Now) bought the Inglenook Estate in the Rutherford region Napa Valley largely on the proceeds of The Godfather Films. He purchased the Estate in 1975 and set about modernising the Estate and turning it into a rather more serious winery than it was. Renamed the Niebaum-Coppola Estate. His Rubicon Estate wine is one of the most sought after wines in the USA. And, not content with just one celebrity wine in this wine making family there is also now a Sophia Coppola Blanc de Blancs. Daughter Sophie is the Oscar winning Screenwriter and Director of Lost in Translation and her wine was first launched as a sparkling wine in a can aimed at clubbers!
Gerard Depardieu – A Nose for Wine
Gerard Depardieu is one of the other big name celebrity wine players and, unlike recent new-comers, has been involved in wine-making since the early 1980s. He owns a property in the Loire and has interests in Bordeaux as well as in Condrieu, St Joseph, Languedoc in the South of France, Spain, Algeria and Argentina. Many of these are in partnership with Bernard Magrez and Michel Rolland. Depardieu, when he is not working, lives at Chateau de Tigné in the Loire (which might be sold to fund a divorce). Funnily enough Depardieu didn’t put his name on his wines until his he went into partnership with Magrez and was persuaded to do so. Depardieu has also recently launched a beer too.
Celebrity Wine in New Zealand
Sam Neill who is probably most famous for his roles in the Jurassic Park films. He is a New Zealander and owns a winery in Central Otago called Two Paddocks. I have tried a couple of cuvées from Two Paddocks and they have both been as good as any Central Otago wines I have tried.
British Celebrity Wine (via Portugal!)
The most famous Brit involved is probably Sir Cliff Richard and his wine Vida Nova has seen some good sales in celebrity-obsessed UK – his agents have had quite an aggressive marketing campaign and have had it listed in various supermarkets. Gordon Ramsey pulled a stunt on Sir Cliff on his F-Word television show – where he gave Sir Cliff a blind tasting – the first wine was a first growth Claret from a very good year (I think it was Haut Brion 1982) and the second wine was Sir Cliff’s own red. Of course he said the first wine was excellent and that the second wine was OK, a bit rough and probably worth about £5.00!! Not quite a fair comparison and rather a cruel trick.
Cliff’s vineyard is in the Algarve near Albufeira which is an area best known for sun, sand and sea and golfing holidays. Indeed they used to say the only thing they bottle in the Algarve was headaches. Cliff has proved them wrong, he makes an affordable, everyday wine.
Celebrity Wine from the Afterlife!
Just because you are a dead celebrity, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a celebrity wine. I sell a couple of great wines licensed by Marilyn Monroe’s estate to Marilyn Wines. There is the soft, round and plump Marilyn Merlot and the fresh, crisp, herbaceous Sauvignon Blonde. Sometimes customers can be a bit sceptical with labels like this but the proof of the pudding is in the label, as it were, and I wouldn’t sell the wines if I thought they were purely cashing in on the name. The wine has to be good too. Moreover Marilyn Wines is no flash in the pan – they celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2012.
And let’s not forget the infamous. I see that there is a new wine label with Hitler in the label which is causing a bit of a stir in Italy at the moment. Indeed, I remember a similar scandal when someone used Mussolini’s picture and name on a range of wines. I suppose these wines will have a certain “collectablilty”.
So What happens when the celebrity fades?
I guess the celebrity wines just fade away. Certainly vanity labels and celebrity wines that the celebrity has little to do with, apart from lending their image or name to a label, will probably disappear as quickly as they arrived, after all yesterday’s news is tomorrow fish and chip paper. Many of the celebrities that own their own wineries or wine estates will probably see their wineries outlive them in some way. Francis Ford Coppola, Sam Neill, Gerard Depardieu, Micheal Seresin – all of these guys produce quality wines that are quality wines in their own right.
So who will be the next generation of stars with their own celebrity wine? Emma Watson, Justin Bieber, who knows? Celebrity can be a very fickle thing can’t it?
Please visit the Fareham Wine Cellar Website for Marilyn Wines in the UK.