12×75 – Can I Offer You Some Celebrity with Your Wine?
By Anna Scott
A couple of wine-related news items caught my eye in the last week and both of them to do with those famous types. Apparently Jay-Z has purchased the Armand de Brignac Champagne brand by making the company an offer they ‘simply couldn’t refuse’. I like to think that this included the chance for some executives to be Beyoncé’s backing dancers for the day and nobody can tell me otherwise. The other celeb/wine crossover story involves none other than our own David Beckham, when it was revealed he purchased a Napa Valley vineyard for his missus some time back.
This got me thinking about the famous, and sometimes rather strange, celebrity wine offerings we’ve seen over the years. Jay-Z and Armand de Brignac appear to be a match made in heaven and I can only assume he’s going to play a large part in the promotion of them, being one of the most famous people on the planet right now and all that. But in the case of the Beckhams, the low-key nature of this purchase makes me think that they’ve bought he vineyard purely for their very own consumption. And yes, I never thought I’d ever use the words ‘low-key’ and ‘Beckhams’ in the same sentence. But good luck to them – if I had as many millions as the Beckhams, I’m pretty sure a premium vineyard would be top of my to-buy list.
These two examples aren’t particularly surprising but delve a bit deeper and there are some celebrity wine enterprises that are distinctly odd to say the least. Those famous people just can’t stop dabbling in the ways of the vine, so much so that a substantial Wikipedia page in now devoted to the subject. There’s something slightly heart-warming about some of these examples that sets them apart from just any old celebrity endorsement and I take some comfort in the fact that the odd famous person wants to buy a winery and actually create something rather than just purchase another diamond encrusted toilet/watch/speedboat. The fact that Carlos Santana put his name to a sparkling wine makes me happy, finding out that none other than Perry Mason himself, Raymond Burr has an estate named after him raises a warm smile from my usually cynical chops – it’s these rather random celeb wine facts that make me more for rather than against the whole thing.
But celebrities take note – this particular wine drinker is much more likely to investigate your vintages if you come up with an interesting, nay completely bonkers, name for your project. Like actor Kyle MacLachlan, who co-owns Pursued By Bear Wines. As opposed to Nick Faldo and, um… Nick Faldo Wines. The only exception to this rule is Dan Ackroyd Wines because he was a Ghostbuster and Ghostbusters rule.
But, at the end of the day, I’m fairly sure that, novelty value aside, adding the name a celebrity to a bottle isn’t going to make it any more likely that I’m going to pick it out off the shelf, but then again, I’m sure that I’m not the sort of customer they’re trying to attract. But whether it’s a vanity project or a genuine desire to make a great wine, I think the world is a jollier place on the whole knowing that Gerard Depardieu now owns so many vineyards, he puts vigneron as the occupation on his passport.
Or maybe that’s just really insulting to every other vigneron out there.