What’s in a name?


GOLD STAR Graham Norton’s Sauvignon Blanc gets the thumbs up.


Philip Dunne

The old art of winemaking is drawing celebrities who want to add some prestige to their self-branding. Even Queen Elizabeth is getting involved, producing a new bubbly from southern England.
One of the original and best-known celebrity winemakers is Francis Ford Coppola, idolised by many as the director of the Godfather film series. In 1975, he set up one of the now iconic estates in California, Rubicon, famed for their Cabernet Sauvignon production. Coppola’s bottles are highly sought after in wine shops and restaurant wine lists alike, retailing on the Irish stage at around €150.
Closer to home is the famed winery of ‘trouble in paradise’ couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jones, who part own the fabulous Chateau Miraval estate in Provence, Southern France. Their signature wine is their Rosé, with Cinsault and Grenache grapes prominent in the blend. Although the wine itself, which costs around €30 a bottle, is pleasing, you may find more happiness in a bottle for half the price from top Irish-owned winery Chateau La Coste, which produces a very delightful Rosé blend,‘Belluge’. If you were ever looking for sunshine and flowers in a wine bottle, this one is it.
I’m generally a cynic about ‘celebrity-infused wine’; it’s often a let down. There is one exception I have tasted and really liked, though – and surprise, the celebrity is Irish!
Chief winemaker (and part-time comedian/chat show host) Graham Norton tied up with the fabulous Invivo of New Zealand to produce a passionfruit and elderflower fruit bomb Sauvignon Blanc. You’d be right in thinking this is the wine he always has in his hand during his late night chat show each week on BBC. But you’d be wrong to think this wine was expensive; at only €12, it’s an absolute gem!

Philip Dunne is Head Sommelier at Ashford Castle, Cong. Trained by the Court of Master Sommeliers, he is part of the team voted the Best Wine Experience in Ireland 2016 at the Restaurant Association Awards in Ireland.