Celebrity Wine Smack Down!

Post date: May 15, 2011 6:32:54 PM

Welcome to the Smack Down! Golfers vs. Baseball Players vs. Actors. It seems like everyone that has developed beyond Nouveau Riche has a need to attach their name to wine. It seems to be paying off. Celebrity wines as a category have increased in sales by 17% in 2007 according to Nielsen market research service.

I’m particularly struck by the number of golfers that have their own wine – Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Norman, Faldo, Frost, Els, Goosen, Luke Donald, Mike Wier and even Annika Sorrenstam have their own label. I love a good Cabernet, but I shudder at the thought of paying $150 a bottle for Luke Donald’s collaboration with Terlato Winery. Now I’m certain that Luke has an active interest in wine and that Terlato did a good job in selecting grapes from Napa with him, but, $150 per bottle! What is going on? Can any of these wines be worth the premium?

The Wine Lovers Group has spoken and the result is that the Baseball Players wines aren’t worth the effort. Not even close. Not by a long shot or a long ball. The Josh Becket ChardonK was a strike out and Jacoby Ellsbury Zinfandellsbury shouldn’t be at your plate.

What worked? The wines of Greg Norman were considered above par (a good thing for wine if a bad thing for golf). We tasted his 2009 Eden Valley Chardonnay ($14-16) and his 2008 Limestone Coast Cabernet (93%) Merlot (7%) meritage. The Wine Lovers Group particularly appreciated the firm acidity of the Chardonnay that balanced the wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon flavors dominated the 2008 meritage.

Actors never get used to critics. The Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Chardonnay ($23) didn’t make the cut. It was a bit too California creamy for our tastes. If you have friends that like their Chardonnay “oaky and creamy” this would fit their flavor profile.

The wine that did get all the applause was the 2007 Cinema ($25) from Sonoma County. This Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut wine is a fascinating meritage of Caberneet Sauvignon (54%) Zinfandel (32%) Cabernet Franc( 12%) and Petit Sirah (2%). I was really surprised that a Cab/Zin blend would work at all and this exceeded all expectations. The plumy richness of the Zinfandel complimented the dark cherry flavors of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The over-the-top tannic astringency of Petit Sirah provided the appropriate backbone to Cinema. This wine tends to be a bit difficult to find (New Hampshire Liquor Commission) but is worth seeking out.

I’m a great fan of Changala’s 2004 Sublime from Paso Robles a Cabernet Sauvignon (64%) Syrah (36%) meritage. The wine really works for me as the spice and plum flavors in the Syrah compliment the herbaceous notes in the Cabernet. You can find this wine at West Concord Liquors for around $16.

Celebrity Wine Makers