Someone recognized that “wineries are the new racehorses” among the super rich.
We see more and more athletes and celebrities in the wine business. Not all celebrities on wine bottles own the wineries, though. Many just lend their name or cross promote, as opposed to actual vintners like former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who is intimately involved in the Walla Walla winery he founded and owns.
I recently picked out some wines pushed or created by actors and pop stars. The results are mixed, overpriced and as gloriously packaged as the 10th row of the Academy Awards.
It’s remarkable how many male hip-hop stars have glommed onto the rosé craze. I remember when drinking pink wine was (ridiculously) viewed as effeminate and eschewed by bro culture. Fortunately, rosé and its charms have been degenderized and are now widely enjoyed by all.
Case in point is Post Malone and his personally approved rosé, Maison No. 9, which he named after his favorite tarot card. It comes in a clear, tall bottle with an etched glass cork. Rather than the typical Côte de Provence designation for French rosé, this wine is designed as made from grapes from Mediterranée — a broader region. E&J Gallo distributes the wine.
Maison No. 9 2019 smells of fresh melon and is medium-bodied with flavors of just-ripe strawberries and melon. The wine is very straightforward and good but falls short of the price tag. $20. ♦♦♦ 1/2
I can’t figure out Snoop Dog’s presence on a bottle of 19 Crimes 2020 Cali Rosé, and I don’t care to Google it. Typically, 19 Crimes is an Australian brand. But Snoop will put himself on anything, even this electric-pink, low-alcohol, sweet wine that I swear tastes like the very Eastern grape Catawba rather than something from “Cali.” If you like that, you may like this. $13. ♦♦1/2
Sara Jessica Parker lent her name and painted a teal “x” that became the label for the Invivo X SJP wine. She approved the 2020 vintage, we are told, via bench trials on Zoom thanks to Covid. The Invivo X SJP 2019 Sauvignon Blanc didn’t taste much like a Marlborough sauvignon blanc. It was softer, fruitier and less acidic. There was nothing wrong with the approach, except for a nuttiness or caramel note in the finish, that I have to attribute to improper storage. Otherwise, the wine tasted of passion fruit and was soft in the palate. $18. ♦♦♦
Just when I thought the celebrity wines were going to be a bit of a bust, the couple formerly known as Brangelina comes through. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie initially leased, then became significant owners of, Chateau Miraval before they split up.
Though in a years-long divorce, they continue as business partners, viewing the wine business as an investment for their children. Even as they battle over custody of said children, the winery just hums along and expands into Champagne with Pitt seeming to take a bigger role. They actually own the facility and have partnered with skilled hands to obtain the grapes and make the wine.
The packaging of Miraval 2020 Côtes de Provence 2020 is stunning, with a clear port-style bottle with a small, round and elegant front label. It’s difficult to describe a great rosé whose understated components all fit together so well. The wine smells of fresh-cut watermelon with a slight herbalness reminiscent of the rind. The wine tastes of white cherry and tart strawberry with a dry, crisp finish. $24. ♦♦♦♦ 1/2
Stars on the label or on the payroll don’t always result in stars in the bottle.
GRADE: Exceptional ♦♦♦♦♦, Above average ♦♦♦♦, Good ♦♦♦, Below average ♦♦, Poor ♦