Claire @ fromthegrapevine
There's a bit of a trend on the supermarket wine shelves at the moment, and that's celebrity wines. Some celebrities just put their name to the label, whilst others get far more involved in the wine making process. The really committed ones actually own the vines and the winery!
This is a run down of some of the arrivals on the market in the last few years.
1) Graham Norton
New Zealand based Invivo wines, which started out in 2007, discovered that chat show host Graham Norton was a fan of their Sauvignon Blanc, and as a result, Invivo and Norton began working together on a "Graham Norton's Own" branded range of wines. This started out with a 2015 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It's not just his face on the bottle; Invivo winemakers and Norton meet up each year to blend the next vintage of the range, and have subsequently expanded to include other varietals.
Graham is a minor shareholder in the wine company, and his wine range has grown over the past few years. Alongside the best-selling (and awarded) SauviGNon Blanc, he has introduced a popular South Australian Shiraz, New Zealand Rosé, Italian Prosecco – and now the Graham Norton Pink and Irish Dry GiNs are starting to take the Gin world by storm.
Graham’s wines have been awarded over 50 accolades, including: Gold at the Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters; twice Gold at the Sydney International Wine Competition; a Trophy at the UK People’s Choice Awards; 90 points from both Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator; chosen to be served in Qantas Business Class and selected for The Independent’s ‘Top Sauvignon Blancs’ in the UK.
You'll find the SauviGNon Blanc in Asda ( £9), Tesco (£9.50), Sainsburys (£9), and Morrisons (£9.50).
2) Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Miraval wine comes from the vineyards at Chateau Miraval in the south of France, which has been in the hands of Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie since 2008. The estate has extensive olive trees and produces olive oil, but the château is best known for its wines. The white wines fall under the Coteaux Varois appellation and red, white and rosé wine under the Côtes de Provence appellation.
The domaine consists of 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of which 30 hectares on the valley floor are devoted to vines. The most iconic wine is the Miraval Cotes de Provence rosé, which has been made in partnership with the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel. This has found its way onto some supermarket shelves, such as Tesco, £19, and Morrisons, £17. It is also in selected Co-op stores at £17.
In 2020, the Chateau launched Studio by Miraval - a more accessibly priced screw top rosé (Tesco, Co-op £12) and before Christmas, added a Studio Blanc white wine (Co-op exclusive, £12) made form the Rolle grape, which is better known as Vermentino. According to its makers, the “mouth-watering white has a pure, refreshing palate of pear, green apples, tangy lime acidity and a hint of almond on the finish”. Be sure to stock up your fridge for those summer bar-b-ques where you can serve your guests with something straight from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's crib.
3) Kylie Minogue
And so to Kylie. 2020 saw the launch of Kylie Minogue Wines, where Kylie, as Creative Director, collaborated exclusively with London-based distributor Benchmark Drinks to create a portfolio of wines bearing her signature.
At the basic end of the spectrum (Kylie calls this the 'signature' selection, which are fruity and expressive), we have the screw tops; a rosé made under the Vin de France appellation, a merlot from the Languedoc region and Sauvignon Blanc from Gasconny in south west France.
The signature range can be found for £9 at Tesco, with the rosé and sauvignon blanc also at Morrisons for £9.
For the bubble fans, here's also an Organic Brut Reserva Cava, made from the classic cava grapes from the Penedes region near Barcelona. The high altitude estate produces multi award-winning, organic, premium Cava, so if you have an occasion to celebrate, this fizz comes from good pedigree.
Kylie also offers two wines in her single-estate Collection. There's another rosé, that hails from just west of St. Tropez, where the vines of the picturesque, palm-lined Domaine of Château des Anglades go into this stylish bottle. This is a cork closure, with the cork bearing Kylie's signature, which is a nice touch. Normally £20 at Morrisons, it's on offer at £15 until 16th March 2021.
4) Ian Bowtham Wines
"People ask me what I’m looking for in a good wine and the answer is simple. It must taste exceptional and offer good value for its price tag. I believe each of my wines delivers that." These are the words of Sir Ian Bowtham, whose passion for wine stemmed from a long friendship with John Arlott, BBC cricket commentator and wine connoisseur.
In 2001 Ian, with fellow cricketing friend Bob Willis, teamed up with international award-winning winemaker Geoff Merrill, to bring out their first vintage.
Twenty years later, Ian now has three different ranges. Like Kylie, there is a basic "all rounder" series, which are priced accessibly. There's a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (Waitrose, £7.99). From South East Australia, these wines are easy drinking and great value.
The next step up is a selection of wines from more defined appellations. The "Botham Series" features a 81 Series Barossa Shiraz, which represents the year he led England to victory in the Ashes, a 76 Series Margaret River Chardonnay, which nods to the year he first scored 1000 runs in one season and played grade cricket for the illustrious Melbourne Cricket club, and finally the 80 Series Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon that celebrates the year he became the 1st player in test history to score a century and take 10 wickets in the same match.
The Botham Series wines are a touch pricier, as you would expect from the higher quality. They are £11 at Tesco, and the 80 Series Coonawarra Cabernet is £9.99 at Waitrose. Like any good Coonawarra Cabernets, this delivers deep intense fruit, integrated tannins and hints of eucalyptus of the finish.
5) Phillip Schofield boxed wines
Phillip Schofield has been writing a wine column in Waitrose magazine for several years, and in April 2020 he teamed up with importer "When in Rome" to create a range, sourcing grapes from independent Italian vineyards.
“When I agreed to this partnership, I had certain conditions; I wanted to be part of the tasting team. I wanted figures on how eco-friendly box wine was and I wanted it to be good value. The result is something I felt I could invest in,” Schofield said at the time of the launch.
There are three boxes in the range. An organic Nero di Troia from Puglia in the sun drenched south of Italy, and a white Benevento IGT Falanghina from Campania, which is described by Waitrose as being “clean, with a hint of tropical fruit and a thread of peach”. The critics are fans and the white wine achieved third place at the prestigious International Wine & Spirit awards back in August. There's also a rosé produced by Viticultori d’Italia in Verona, this pale Rosato is similar in style to a Cote de Provence Rosé.
At Grapevine Towers we find the 2.25 litre boxes dangerous... it's too easy to have 'just one more glass." The wine will stay fresh for up to 6 weeks once opened, but we've not managed to make it last that long. All boxes are available at Waitrose, priced at £24.99 - equivalent to £8.66 a bottle.
In December 2020, the red was launched as a single bottle, but flat enough to go through the letterbox. These PET bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable.