It seems that in the modern age, some people are not satisfied with starring in films, raising six children, engaging in humanitarian work in Africa and being one of the most powerful and influential couples in the entertainment world. Otherwise, how could anyone explain why Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would choose to spend their free time making wine, of all things?
The first rose of Chateau Miraval, the vineyard in Provence that they own, got wall-to-wall praise when it came out on the market last year and even came in 84th place on the American magazine Wine Spectator’s list of 2013’s best wines. That is the highest place for a rose wine on the list, which makes it, for the people of that popular magazine, the best in the world of its kind. It recently arrived in Israel, imported by Ha’Magash Shaked.
This does not mean that Brangelina have come up with anything new. Vineyards and celebrities have been going hand in hand for years since long before sports clubs became the preferred toys of the wealthy. Among the stars who have owned vineyards are Gerard Depardieu, Francis Ford Coppola, Olivia Newton-John, Sting and recently, star soccer player Andres Iniesta, who plays for the Barcelona FC and the Spain national team; Iniesta's vineyard bears his family name.
Despite the many examples, few are the cases in which the owners are fully involved in running the vineyard. Most of the time, the owners are celebrities who wanted the prestige of owning a magnificent estate that produces wine that has their name on the label. As things look now, at least, Pitt and Jolie, wine connoisseurs who reportedly know a thing or two about the subject, belong to the former group.
I would not be surprised if the name Chateau Miraval sounded familiar to readers. This lovely, spacious farm with a 35-bedroom castle at its center has a splendid past rich with art and music. In 1970, the well-known jazz pianist Jacques Loussier bought the estate. He built a recording studio there, Studio Miraval, where prominent rock bands such as Pink Floyd, The Cranberries and the Gipsy Kings recorded tracks for their albums.
Jolie and Pitt, who rented the estate for three years running and used it as a summer home, bought it in 2008 for the modest price of $60 million. The winery that operated on the estate continued to do so independently until two years ago, when it went into the couple’s full ownership together with estate’s vineyards. Jolie and Pitt realized that even though they had won Academy Awards and Golden Globes, they would need help with the venture, so they began searching for local partners.
The Perrin family met the criteria, and joined the project in 2012. Considered one of the leaders in the French wine industry thanks to their accomplishments and the quality they reached in the Rhone valley, the Perrins are well-known to wine lovers for the vineyard they own — Chateau de Beaucastel, which is located in the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. If the information about Brad and Angelina’s great appreciation for Rhone valley wines is accurate, the Perrin family was a natural choice without parallel.
Chateau Miraval’s launch of the 2012 Cote de Provence rose (Cinsaut, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle) was a rousing success. The first 6,000 bottles offered for sale were sold within a few hours, creating an enormous demand for the new celebrity line. This year, before the 2013 vintage went on the market, bottles were already offered for early sale for people who registered in advance. Reputation is everything, right?
Not exactly. Unlike other wines that created hype just because they bore a link to some famous person, the wines produced by the Pitt-Jolie-Perrin winery were warmly received even by wine critics who were not put off by Jolie’s character in "Maleficent," Jolie's latest film, a spin-off from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty." The reviews on the important wine sites ranged on the scale between excellent and very good — not bad for the first vintage of a new project. Alongside the rose, Chateau Miraval also produced a white wine based on Rolle grapes that did not generate even one-tenth of the noise that the rose did. That is not surprising, since rose wines have become trendy among consumers in the U.S.
According to the reports that were published in the British magazine Decanter, Chateau Miraval does not plan to rest on its laurels. Pitt, Jolie and Perrin plan to make red “super Provence” wines like the “super Tuscan” wines that brought the Italian wine industry to new pricing records. The reference here is to wines that will not obey the rigid rules of the AOC - a French certification granted to certain geographical indications for wines, cheeses, and other products - as far as the grape varieties that are allowed for use. In the near future, they plan experiments with strains of Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre and Syrah. If past experience with the Perrins is any indication, it will be worth waiting for.
Since tasting the Chateau Miraval 2012 rose recently, I am not in a hurry to join the grand celebration around it. It is certainly an enjoyable, worthy wine with an impressive structure, a lovely bouquet and fruity fragrances that give it a slightly different character from other Provencal rose wines. Still, it does not require special treatment, and its price tag is not exactly an incentive to snap up several bottles.
While the wine can be bought in the U.S. for $23, that is still a bit expensive for a rose, but the names of Jolie and Pitt can provide an explanation. In Israel, the wine is priced much higher, at NIS 150 per bottle. If you are not among the die-hard admirers of “Brangelina,” you may want to pass on this one. An alternative might be to go the nearest supermarket, buy an Israeli Dalton rose wine, get change for your 50-shekel note and hurry home to watch a good movie. I had wanted to recommend a film with Brad or Angelina, but then I remembered that the new season of "Game of Thrones" has just started.
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