Once they’re famous, people love to make wine. Or at least be associated with making wine by purchasing a vineyard or two. I totally get where they are coming from, although on my budget I can barely afford the organic grapes at Whole Foods, so there are no such purchases in my future.
But can we trust celebrity-linked wine? Just about everybody who’s anybody is involved in the wine game, and we’re bound to stumble across a wine linked to a celebrity sooner or later. I’m holding out for Pitbull Cellars, myself.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie may have split, but they still own their Miraval wine estate in France, and that rosé is pretty tasty. Musician Dave Matthews collaborated with winemaker Sean McKenzie to create the affordable Dreaming Tree wines, which come from a certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery.
Director Francis Ford Coppola has made good wine for years. Even “Twin Peaks” star Kyle MacLachlan makes wine these days in Walla Walla, Washington, on the awesomely titled label Pursued by Bear. Nothing like a great cup of black coffee. Except maybe a great glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
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There are also celebrities who lend their names to collections they didn’t make. We checked out examples of both sorts of celebrity vino to see what’s worth your time.
Z. Alexander Brown: Unless you are a country music fan, you probably don’t know who Zac Brown is. But in addition to singing songs with Jimmy Buffett, he has also teamed up with winemaker John Killebrew to make “Uncaged” wines. We tried the smooth 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99), and we were happy to be knee-deep in it. The wine didn’t last long once it was open. Even the white wine lovers in the bunch enjoyed the opening notes of black cherry, which then segued into a chocolatey — or is it mocha? — finish.
On our list to try: the 2014 Uncaged Proprietary Red Blend. Check the store locator on www.zalexanderbrown.com to find it in your neighborhood.
The Martha Stewart Collection: OK, so Martha isn’t actually out making wine. What, you think she has time with fall craft season coming up? Making wreaths takes up a lot of time (or so I hear). What Martha does is curate the collection [to curate: a made-up verb that means to choose a bunch of related items and slap your name on it]. To translate, she “handpicks” the wines she likes and then sells them individually or as a set.
2016 Racine Cotes du Provence ($17.99): So crisp! So dry! It’s like it was made for drinking in the summer heat. Our favorite of the bunch.
2016 Villa Ruby Caresse de Rose ($18.99): This Grenache blend is fruity without being sweet and comes in a sexy bottle.
2016 Les Murieres Coup du Rosé ($22.99): This dry wine grows on you, but there’s an odd, unidentifiable aftertaste here that we just couldn’t place. At this price? You can do better.
2016 Abbazia Moscato Rose Dolce ($14.99): Step away from this sparkling wine unless you are a fan of sweet stuff. Otherwise you will be completely horrified.