Published: Sunday April 21, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday April 26, 2013 MYT 12:26:42 AM

Stars in a bottle: Celebrities and their wines

You’ve got money, you’ve got fame ... but do you have your own vineyard?

OF late, many celebrities have chosen to return from their starry existence to terra firma. And you can’t get closer to the earth than planting grapes and owning your own vineyard.

Recently A-listers including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas and Drew Barrymore have launched their own labels.

Jolie and Pitt are the owners of the 148-acre Chateau Miraval in Correns, Southern France. Used also as their summer getaway, the estate includes 20ha to 24ha of organically grown vines. Decanter magazine reports that Jolie and Pitt have been working with French winemaker Marc Perrin on a 2012 harvest. (Marc Perrin’s winemaking pedigree is top-notch. The Perrin family own the famed Château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf du Pape, and produce wine in the whole Rhône Valley.)

The Jolie-Pitt wine, a Rosé called “Miraval”, is expected be available in the market this month, with white wines arriving by summer’s end.

So how hands-on was the couple? According to Perrin, they were present at the blending sessions, redesigning the vineyard and even the wine labels.

You may be wondering how much it will cost for a taste of the Jolie-Pitt wine. In Europe, it’s estimated that the 150,000 bottles of Rosé wine would go for RM60 each sold through good wine merchants and restaurants.

‘Fergalicious’ wine

Eight-time Grammy Award winner, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, together with her father, viticulturist Pat Ferguson, have launched a family wine called Ferguson Crest. Set in the crest of Solvang, overlooking the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara, the winery features a Syrah, a Cabernet, two Viogniers and a red blend called “Fergalicious”. All grapes are organic and handpicked.

Like Jolie-Pitt, the glamorous head-turner has not been afraid to get her hands dirty. Both father and daughter have made this their family project. In 2007, they planted their grapes over 0.2ha. By the next five years, they expanded their vineyard by 2.4ha. Beginning 2009, they had harvested grapes for production.

To ensure quality, the Ferguson winery has an expert consultant onboard: Joey Tensley, a Food and Wine magazine award winner whose Syrahs have ranked in the Wine Spectator Top 100.

Not surprising, the Ferguson Crest 2010 Syrah is the company’s signature varietal, featuring flavours of black pepper, graphite, chocolate and cassis. The Viogniers are also highly rated. The 2010 features underlying hints of apricot and lavender while the 2011 is well-balanced with a smooth round texture and crisp acid finish.

Readers can purchase Fergie’s fruits of her labour from Bottles range from US$22.50 to US$150 (RM70 to RM465) for an autographed bottle.

For Drew Barrymore, if her career in Hollywood ever pans out, she can always turn to a career in the wine business. Last year, her three-year labour of love, the Barrymore Pinot Grigio won a Gold Medal at the largest international wine competition in France – the Le Challenge International de Vin in Paris.

Produced by Decordi, a large winery, Barrymore’s grapes are grown in the Triveneto region of north-east Italy. The region lies below the Alps and is known for producing crisp, fresh white wines.

Drew’s choice

Why Pinot Grigio? The effervescent 38-year-old is quoted as saying: “Pinot Grigio has always been a love of mine. If I go to a restaurant, it’s a safe, sure-fire bet and I love it.”

From the start, the actress was committed to her latest venture. She was involved in nearly every step of the wine’s creation, down to the wine label with a Barrymore family crest.

So how does the wine taste? We are told that it comes in a pale straw colour, and it is minerally and lingers long in the mouth with fruit notes of apple and lively citrus flavours. It also has a relatively low alcohol content at 12%. To date, 6,000 cases of the 2011 Pinot Grigio have been imported. The wine retails in the United States at US$19.99 (RM62) with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

Other celebrities who make wine include Madonna. The Material Girl owns the almost 6ha Ciccone Vineyard and Winery in Northern Michigan with her father. Dan Aykroyd and ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky also produce wine under their own labels in Canada. Sting offers drinkers and fans a wine called Sister Moon (a 40-30-30 blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and another wine, Casino delle Vie (almost 100% Sangiovese) all made from organic and biodynamic grapes from his farmland in Tuscany.

So are celebrity wines worth it, you might ask. Wine cognoscenti are divided in their opinions. Some critics argue that if one puts aside all the fanfare, many of the labels are going at inflated prices, judging by quality alone.

But there’s no denying the amusement factor when one serves up a celebrity wine at dinner. Dinner conversations will never be the same again. And that’s priceless.

Edwin Soon is a qualified oenologist and has run wine shops and worked as a winemaker in various countries. He now writes and teaches about wine around Asia. E-mail

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Lifestyle, ed soon, uncorked, wine, celebrities


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