• Alexander Smith

My thoughts on Celebrity wines

In recent years the amount of celebrities who have jumped into 'making' wine has been insane. The following is a non-exhaustive list of celebrities who are associated with wineries:

  • Drew Barrymore

  • Francis Ford Coppola

  • Ernie Els

  • Madonna

  • Brad Pitt

  • Jon Bon Jovi

  • Danica Patrick

  • Pink!

  • Sarah Jessica Parker

  • Cameron Diaz

  • Snoop Dogg

A Solid SJP Sauvignon Blanc from NZ!
A Solid SJP Sauvignon Blanc from NZ!

So what are my thoughts on our industry and whether I feel these 'celebrities' are welcome?

I believe any publicity on the wine industry is good and apart from Snoop Dogg, who promotes 19 Crimes, they are going to ensure to put their name on a good quality product. Saying this, for most of these celebrities they are only the face of the wine and will do very little work in the vineyard or winery (as per Instagram!). I believe Danica Patric is the most involved.

Certain industry members believe we don't need celebrities strutting around wineries, yet for me as long as they are humble and don't bring a bad name to the industry, I have no issues.

However one celebrity is different, Cameron Diaz recently made the following video, which is cringe-worthy. I will let you watch the video first before I provide my 'thoughts'

During this 9 minute video of pure joy, they mention the following:

  • Organic wines tend to not be great, and are often hit and miss

  • Organic wines lack flavors and structure

  • Most wine made in the U.S have harsh additives and chemicals which are bad for you, (FYI this is not true)

  • Trash-talking their competitors mentioning they are the worst offenders

So these two individuals have found a new way with the brand Avaline, which includes two wines (a white and rosé) which are natural, clean, and delicious. I won't be able to comment on how 'delicious' they are, however, I will address how natural and clean their wine is based on their website.

Avaline states the following which sounds like they took it from the side of an orange juice carton, with my comments adjacent.

  • Their wines are made using organic grapes. This is very possible and easy to achieve when producing wine from Spain and South of France. However it seems as though their wine is not certified organic,

  • Free of added sugars. This comment made me laugh a bit, roses are made traditional dry in the south of France and sugars tend to only be added in regions where they struggled to ripen grapes (Not in the south of France!). These additional added sugars are then fermented dry. There might be some commercial wineries that are stopping their fermentation early and hence sugar remains in the wine, but I doubt this. Finally, I am not aware of any European wineries which will add sugars post-fermentation, correct me if I am wrong.

  • Free of added concentrates This is very rarely done in France or Spain, maybe in the U.S with certain larger wineries, but this word: concentrate is very vague.

  • Free of added colors. Similar to above, this must be in reference to one or two wineries who add color to increase the concentration of their wines. However, this is not done (to my knowledge) in Europe which is where these wines are made.

  • Vegan friendly. So they do not use egg whites as a fining agent, ok great

  • Natural. This is where I have the biggest issue. I will be writing a separate article on natural wines and the real definition behind them in the coming weeks. However, what I can tell you is this wine is certainly not natural. A natural wine should be at the minimum biodynamic (which is not the case for Avaline's range), and adding a very small amount usually 20 ppm of sulfites or less. They add 100 ppm, which is quite standard for most wines. Hence this wine is certainly not natural

I suppose my issue with all of this, is how the Avaline brand seems to be marketing a natural wine which is not natural. Their wines were produced in Europe using a traditional approach and it is then compared to a few extreme wineries in the U.S. If you compare these wines to other similar style European wines, you will find very little difference in the final product, well apart from how their wine will end up being 30% more ;) Good luck with your brand, but I have no plans on buying or rating this 'vision'.

Sarah Jessica Parker on the other hand might not know how to hold a wine glass, but at least she is not going to war on the wine industry. I purchased a bottle of her latest collaboration with Invivo. She even helped with the blending and told the winemakers what she liked. I was ready to destroy this wine, yet I was actually surprised. I gave her 2019, a 90 points with the following notes: The aromas are pretty explosive with loads of grassy notes, green apple, lime zest, guava, and a little tropical fruit. The palate was bright yet less sharp than other SB with a good balance between the ever-present green apple and passion fruit which comes across strong, baked citrus tart and light herbal notes, the mid-palate is nicely layered with a soft and pleasant finish. I would buy it again, but don't tell anyone.

This is the video of her 'blending' wine:

What have I learned from this, firstly don't judge a book by its cover ;) However, I certainly encourage 'celebrities' to dive into the world of wine, just don't go thinking you are better than everyone else. I have met 100s of winemakers and I have never met one which believes his or her wines are better than others and trash-talk the competition.

What are your thoughts on celebrity wines?

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