Forget celebrity tequila. And whisky, too. A veritable Who’s Who of the entertainment industry have recently launched some exceptional new wines.
by Christine Sismondo
The next big thing is almost certainly celebrity wine, evidenced by the spate of new vino ventures recently launched by A-list musicians, actors, fashionistas and sports figures, including Guy Lafleur, Cameron Diaz, Vera Wang – and even Sting, whose “Message in a Bottle” has been such a hit it’s become one of Tuscany’s best-selling wines.
Sting’s wine is exceptional, but it’s not the only one that’s worth drinking since many of these wine enthusiasts have partnered with some of the world’s best producers to make some first-rate wines.
Here are a few of our favourites that have landed in Ontario over the past few months:
What’s the 411 on Mary J. Blige’s Sun Goddess wines? Well, the multiple platinum-award winning performer just wanted a Pinot Grigio (she adores the stuff) to call her own and, to that end, travelled to Italy’s northeast, where they make some of the finest whites in the world. There, legendary winemaker Marco Fantinel introduced her to the region’s traditional “Ramato-style” wine, a skin contact wine with an orangey-pink glow and a slightly bigger body than the average white.
$20.95 | LCBO 19481 | Sun Goddess Pinot Grigio Ramato
Practically the OGs of celebrity rosé, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie launched their Miraval Rosé in 2013 and, while we’re unsure which one got custody of the wine, it’s still one of the prettiest pinks out there. Made in Provence, France, this wine has lovely floral aromatics, plenty of fresh berries, sweet cantaloupe and just enough citrus kick to balance it out and make it perfect for all-day rosé sipping.
$23.95 | LCBO 342584 | Miraval Rosé
Long before she was a Real Housewife, philanthropist and television personality Lisa Vanderpump had a small empire of high-end restaurants and clubs, which is why it’s not surprising that one of today’s best celeb wines comes at her behest. Two expressions are from Sonoma: a buttery Chardonnay, and a bold and spicy Cabernet – a steak wine if we’ve ever had one. This fall, look out for her rosé, too, a delicate, crisp and pale Provencal classic with a light watermelon flavour and a hint of tangerine.
$29.95 | LCBO 14808 | Vanderpump Rosé
With a new season of Sex and the City coming to HBO, it’s a great time to revisit pink drinks like the Cosmo that Sarah Jessica Parker’s character famously made into the “it” drink of the early millennium. This time around, though, we’ve got a new drink in play, Parker’s own totally crushable Sauvignon Blanc. Made in New Zealand, this award-winning wine is highly aromatic, lightly sweet and perfectly balanced between citrus and tropical fruit. It’ll be joined by a pink this fall, too.
$22.95 | LCBO coming in October | Invivo X by Sarah Jessica Parker Sauvignon Blanc
Thanks to Jessica Chastain’s husband, fashion designer Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, who launched Fiol Prosecco a few years ago, we’ll never again have to endure the “What to serve at an Oscar party” dilemma again. The answer is Fiol (translates as “cool guy”), a luxury Italian sparkler that happens to make amazing “champagne” cocktails, exactly what you’d want to drink at any self-respecting (Oscars or otherwise) party..
$15.95 | LCBO 394577 | Fiol Prosecco DOC
Most Canadians already know that the Great One’s been dabbling in wine, beer and spirits for a while. Less well-known is the fact that the “Estate Series” expressions available exclusively through Wayne Gretzky’s namesake winery and distillery in Niagara-on-the-Lake are brilliantly food-friendly wines. We’re a big fan of the Cab-Merlot, which is awesome with grilled meats, veggies and wood-fired pizza.
$29.95 | Wayne Gretzky Estate Series Cabernet-Merlot | GretzkyEstatesWines.com
Cuddy by Tawse
Best-known as one-half of Canada’s uber-popular country-rock band, Blue Rodeo, Jim Cuddy’s name now graces a bottle of one of the most uniquely beautiful Ontario wines we’ve had the pleasure of trying – Cuddy by Tawse Chardonnay. It’s bright, fresh and light, with a little citrus, smoke and even a hint of salt, reminiscent of a coastal wine but made in Niagara at the storied Tawse Winery
$25.95 | LCBO 469023 | TawseWinery.ca
As soon as Snoop Dogg started hanging out with Martha and doing potluck dinners, we should have known a signature wine was somewhere in the pipeline. I mean, you can’t show up without a hostess gift, right? Australia’s 19 Crimes helped him out of this jam by making Snoop Dogg Cali Red, a fruit-forward blend that was designed to win over beer and spirits fans. Given that it’s rich in sweet red berry flavours and vanilla, the plan will almost certainly work.
$19.95 | LCBO 18116 | 19 Crimes Snoop Dogg Cali Red
Christine Sismondo is the author of America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops and Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History, with a PhD dissertation on Toronto bar history. ChristineSismondo.com