Fancy a taste of Mr & Mrs Smith’s wine? Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have put their new wine on sale.
The first 6,000 bottle release of their Provence rosé called Miraval sold out in just five hours on the internet, but the remaining 15,000 cases are now available in restaurants and shops in the USA and UK.
Pitt and Jolie bought the beautiful Chateau Miraval, near Correns, with its 60 hectares of vineyards for a reputed £40 million back in 2008. Instead of cashing in on the wine harvest immediately, they decided to enlist the help of top soil scientist Claude Bourguignon and winemaking experts, the Perrin family from Chateauneuf du Pape’s top estate, Chateau de Beaucastel – with the aim of making the best Provençal red, white and rosé they could. Five years later, with active involvement from Brad and Angelina in the blending and packaging choices, a vinous addition in the form of a swish-looking rosé joined the Pitt household.
It might all sound like an unlikely association selling on hype and curiosity, but the new Miraval rosé vintage has scored a very decent 90/100 in a blind tasting with respected US wine magazine Wine Spectator. It is a classic Provence rosé blend of four grapes: red grapes grenache, syrah and cinsault – and white grape vermentino – with 5 per cent oak. What sets it apart is its overtly glamorised packaging in a custom-made Champagne Ruinart-lookalike bottle which seems at odds with the style of wine. Not surprisingly Miraval has a hefty price tag to match the Jolie-Pitt & Perrin endorsement on the back label.
This is not the first famous wine from the vineyards of Chateau Miraval in Provence. In the past, prior to the Pitts’ purchase, it produced a rosé called Pink Floyd, named after the rock band who recorded The Wall in the studio at Miraval in 1979. What the Pitts have done is raise the bar in wine quality. They will be releasing a white wine this summer and a red next year.
This Hollywood A-list couple are not the first to use their name to promote wine. Celebrity wines are now all the rage. Involvement varies from owning the vineyard and actively making the wine like Gerard Depardieu at Chateau de Tigne in the Loire, to just lending their name to another producer. Other celebrities such as Sting at his Tuscan Tenuta il Palagio, Johnny Depp in Provence and the Beckhams in California just make wine for their own use.
The best-known celebrities selling their own wines under their name include Francis Ford Coppola at Rubicon estate in Napa, Cliff Richard in the Algarve in Portugal, Sam Neill at Two Paddocks winery in New Zealand’s Central Otago, racing driver Jarno Trulli at Podere Castorani in central eastern Italy and Ernie Els at Engelbrecht Els in Stellenbosch in South Africa.
Those lending their name for a short period of time to a winery to help sell the wines include Carlos Santana who gave his name to Champagne Mumm to produce sparkling wine in California called Santana DVX – and Bob Dylan who gave his permission for Italian Fattorie Le Terrazze to use his Planet Waves album cover and name. Singer Mick Hucknall formed a collaboration with Italian Salvo Foti – as did golfers Arnold Palmer with California’s Luna Vineyards, Nick Faldo with Katnook Estate in Australia’s Coonawarra and Greg Norman with Mildara Blass.
The latest famous golfer to add his name to the celebrity wine list is Englishman Luke Donald. He spends a great deal of time in California, where he has formed an association with his friend and winemaker Bill Terlato to make a Napa Valley Cabernet blend and Carneros Chardonnay – just released onto the UK market this spring.
The wine list
Luke Donald Carneros Chardonnay 2011
I preferred Donald’s sleek Burgundian-style white to his hefty Napa red. Very elegant, rich, citric notes, oaky undertones, well balanced with a fine long finish. Stylish and not too pricey considering its origin and celebrity endorsement.
Miraval Rosé 2012
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s rosé is a beautiful pale pink, with attractive red fruit notes, fresh flinty acidity and mouthfilling weighty fruits on the palate with a touch of bitterness on the finish: expensive for a Provence rosé (I can think of several others I would prefer well under this price) but this is a very well-made wine.
(£18.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com)
First Paddock Pinot Noir 2010 Two Paddocks Vineyard
As a lover of Central Otago pinot noir, I have to admit that I adore the cherry and plum fruits and succulent length of this wine. Sam Neill’s offering is hugely overpriced – but well made.
(£46, Haynes Hanson & Clark, www.hhandc.co.uk)
Join Rosé’s Beginners’ Wine Course in Edinburgh, with classes from £35, www.rosémurraybrown.com