I’m not easily impressed by celebrity wines especially when they simply slap their name on a bottle. But there are plenty of wine-loving celebs I’ve written about who have a commitment to quality. Golfers like Ernie Els and Annika Sorenstam come to mind as does movie director Francis Ford Coppola’s wine empire.Three more celebrity brands that you may or may not be familiar with but are worth seeking out, include a steamy star, a femme fatale, and a behind-the-scenes music legend.
I’ve been a fan of actor Kyle MacLachlan since his Twin Peaks days, but it’s his role as charming yet challenged Trey MacDougal in Sex and the City, that made me a devotee. When I heard MacLachlan was making wine with his vinous counterpart, star winemaker Eric Dunham of Washington’s Dunham Cellars, I had to pursue it. That’s just what I did sampling their “…pursued by bear” Cabernet Sauvignon. Only 300 cases were made and I can tell you, it’s a red with teeth. The unique name centers on the legend that William Shakespeare kept a bear at London’s Globe Theatre. As a result in his play, The Winter’s Tale, Will coined the now-famous stage direction, “exit, pursued by bear.” The wine, like all of MacLachlan’s characters, is packed with personality. When I asked Kyle what one of his roles most closely fit the essence of his wine he laughed and said, “Trey. Both have complexity, heart, and style, but need a little time to develop.”
2006 “Pursued by Bear” Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, WA $65
Combining the structure of Cabernet rounded out with Merlot for plushness and Syrah for a spicy kick, this age-worthy red still showcases elegance. Powerful enough to pair with the biggest of steaks, its pinpoint balance also invites savoring with more delicate dishes like grilled salmon topped with mushrooms. www.pursuedbybearwine.com
Another personality that’s larger than life (even though she’s no longer alive) is Marilyn Monroe. For over two decades Napa Valley-based Nova Wines has been making a roster of bottlings bearing images of the screen legend that change each vintage. Led by the aptly named, Marilyn Merlot, what could have been a brand built only on image has become just the opposite. Due to creativity and a focus on quality, these wines have become affordable collectors’ items. Royalties from sales help support the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute and the Anna Freud Foundation.
2009 Marilyn Sauvignon Blonde, Napa Valley, CA $19
Adorned with the famous shot of Marilyn Monroe in a white dress baring her long legs, this white is crisp and racy with a long finish.
2008 Marilyn Merlot, Napa Valley, CA $29
Released on June 1, which was Marilyn’s birthday, this is the 24th vintage of the collectable wine. Primarily Merlot with a streak of Cabernet Sauvignon the red is — not surprisingly — a sexy sip. Check out all the images of Marilyn at www.MarilynWines.com
Finally, for fans of a certain age the Dobbie Brothers are an iconic band. Bruce Cohn has been the band’s manager for nearly 40 years starting back when they called themselves Pud. The name Pud was clearly a dud so after smoking a bit, the moniker Dobbie Brothers was born and the rest is music history. In 1974 Cohn bought his Sonoma Valley estate as a restful place to raise his family. He soon realized he had top-quality vineyards and began his own winemaking venture. The winery specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, but has a lineup of offerings by winemaker Tom Montgomery. B.R. Cohn is also known for crafting gourmet olive oil made from century-old picholine olive trees located on the property. With charity concerts, cooking demonstrations, and a collection of vintage cars to view, it’s a must-stop for wine (and music) lovers visiting Sonoma.
2007 B.R. Cohn “Silver Label” Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, CA $18-20
The “Silver Label” ranks as one of California’s top Cabernet values. With a supple yet vibrant texture and high-quality packaging, I dub it an Impress-for-Less bottle. Perfect as your house wine or a house-warming gift.
2009 B.R. Cohn Chardonnay, Sonoma County, CA $24
Marrying the full-bore California style with a core of zesty acidity, this partially barrel-fermented white is a crowd pleaser. www.brcohn.com