The concept of celebrity wine is a curious one, since its initial appeal is based on name recognition of a person we admire or yearn to emulate. Will a bottle of Greg Norman’s wine improve your short game? Does the consumption of Andretti Cabernet enable you to roar through hairpin turns in excess of 100 mph? Not likely, yet some celebrity brands manage to survive in a brutally competitive marketplace—despite the fact that a consumer’s decision to buy is rarely based on an appreciation of the wine itself.
This year’s celebrity wine sensation is Diving into Hampton Water, a collaboration between rocker Jon Bon Jovi, his son Jesse Bongiovi and French winemaker Gerard Bertrand (Jesse, a recent graduate of Notre Dame, uses his father’s given name). The story goes like this: father and son are sitting on the porch of their Easthampton home, drinking rosé at two a.m. Jon asks Jesse if he wants another glass of “pink juice,” and Jesse informs him that rosé is really the water of the Hamptons. The two have an epiphany, and decide the name belongs on a wine label. They seek out Bertrand, a former rugby star who took over his family wine company after the accidental death of his father, and Diving into Hampton Water is born.
To the credit of Bon Jovi/Bongiovi, neither name appears on the label: it is bisected by a picture of a female swimmer captured in mid-dive. The grapes were sourced by Bertrand in the Languedoc, and the wine is a blend of Grenache (60%), Cinsault (15%), Mourvedre (15%) and Syrah (10%). The 2017 Diving into Hampton Water ($25) has a pleasant nose with faint aromas of red fruits. It is easy to drink, with good acidity and flavors of strawberry and red raspberry that linger on a reasonably long finish, but you wouldn’t necessarily remember it in the morning.
The natural temptation is to compare Diving into Hampton Water to Miraval, the excellent Provence rosé that survived the marriage of its founders (Brad Pitt And Angelina Jolie) and which retails for the same price. Miraval, though, is made in Provence rather than the Languedoc; most of the grapes are estate-grown, and the wine is vinified by the Perrins, one of the world’s great winemaking families. Diving into Hampton Water launched around Memorial Day and quickly sold out, due to intense interest from the Eastern tip of Long Island. Will it be around next year, or the year after that? Probably—unless the current mania for rosé subsides, or unless another celebrity comes along with a wine that captures the imagination of the public.
Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He has written several books on distilled spirits and the cocktail culture. His first novel, Friend of the Devil, is available on amazon.com; his second novel, a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq, is due out in Spring 2019.