That the list of celebrity winemakers grows ever longer rattles the cages of many wine folks I know, causing skeptics to wonder if the trend is one born more of marketing than serious wine.
If my recent visit with Corey Beck, Director of Winemaking and General Manager at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, California (Sonoma) is any barometer, I can assure you: No cause for alarm.
Chatting with Corey about the winery and its programs, I came to understand that 5-time Oscar winning director / writer / producer Coppola maintains a high level of involvement with the winery and wines, from vision to detail. In fact, from what I can determine, Coppola approaches wine with the same passion and artistic creativity as he would a feature film.
Listening to Corey, it became clear to me that to create an environment where family members of all ages can enjoy a celebration of life is as important to the winery as the wines themselves. As a destination, Francis Ford Coppola Winery is a family-friendly facility remarkably featuring wine tasting bars, two restaurants, a full bar, a swimming pool, a movie gallery, a performing arts Pavilion and a park area with game tables and bocce courts.
I liked what I was hearing from Corey. But, the wines would still need to speak for themselves. And speak they did. In the tasting segment of our get-together, Corey presented three wines, impressive, French inspired, yet distinctly Californian in character:
Coppola Director’s Cut Chardonnay 2010
Produced from 100% Chardonnay aged in French oak, the wine shows floral aromas wound around scents of pear, honey and citrus. Grace notes of caramel–vanilla. Delicious key lime pie on the palate delivered with cleansing acidity that shouts “bring on the appetizers!” Super as an aperitif. A great crossover wine for lovers of Italian whites.
Coppola Diamond Claret 2010
This flagship wine of Coppola’s Diamond Collection is a sophisticated Bordeaux blend that drinks with both elegance and intensity. Layers of dark fruit are brightened by licks of raspberry; hints of baker’s chocolate. Luscious in the mouth, the wine finishes with trails of chocolate and raisin. Right up the alley of Bordeaux or Maremma fans.
Coppola “Eleanor” 2009
Named in honor of Coppola’s wife, this Syrah / Cabernet blend is still young with plenty of time ahead of it for cellaring. The wine emerges from 2 years in French oak with a personality intense, deep and complex like so many artists I’ve known. Dense in the mouth with great initial attack and a mid-palate full of delicious, raisin-y dark fruit. Assertive, nicely integrated tannins and a big mineral finish. Lovers of big Bordeaux, muscular Cabs, or massive Super Tuscans will totally appreciate this one.
The gauntlet has been thrown down! IMHO, if other celebrity winemakers can meet the bar set by Coppola … things are gonna be real fine 🙂
PS Learn more about Francis Ford Coppola Winery or Corey Beck
PSS Find a rather good and interesting list of celebrity winemakers here on Wikipedia