Music and wine: a natural pairing?

While I did not meet Jon Bon Jovi or John Legend in person, they were in my home on two separate afternoons during virtual tastings with Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse Bongiovi were with winemaker Gerard Bertrand and John Legend was with winemaker Jean-Charles Boisset. These pairs are producing wine labels which had me wondering about the the role of the celebrities in wine. But, these pairs have created harmony between wine and music as I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and share here.

Launching or buying a winery is definitely a status symbol for celebrities. Many celebrities, from actors to musicians to athletes have entered into the wine business.

But I have been somewhat skeptical about celebrities who attach themselves to a wine label. I have wondered how involved many celebrities are when it comes to their wine label. After all, there is more than just putting your name on it. Of course, it sounds romantic to own a winery. But the reality is that the wine business is a lot of hard work.

I was intrigued when online wine retailer announced virtual tastings with musical legends Jon Bon Jovi and John Legend as part of their virtual wine tasting line-up. Wine and music seem like a natural pairing. There is growing scientific evidence regarding the relationship between wine and music and how they enhance each other. And, I have met so many people in the wine industry who play musical instruments or are, or were, involved with music both professionally and personally.

Jon Bon Jovi and John Legend are both musical icons, who have created their own wine label. And, they both partnered with well-known French winemakers to bring their visions to life and to show that wine and music do go together.

Hampton Water 

When Jesse Bongiovi, musician Jon Bon Jovi’s son, was in college, he and his friends would hang out in the Hamptons at the family home. Both Jesse and his roommate grew up in New York and would joke that people drank more rosé than water. And, when Jesse’s mom said they were drinking too much rosé, they responded that they were not drinking rosé but rather “Hampton Water.” His father Jon Bon Jovi loved the name and said they should put that name on a bottle.

Jesse wanted to create a lifestyle brand in which he could share the ideas of the beach, fun, family and food. They looked to the south of France. Jon Bon Jovi had been familiar with Gerard Bertrand’s wines. Jon Bon Jovi called Gerard and they met for lunch in New York. Gerard felt their commitment and long-term vision. From there, Jon and his son Jesse traveled to the south of France to taste and talk about the label and the bottle.

With a shared commitment, a friendship developed between Jon, Jesse and Gerard. They had selected the place to make the wine, the winemaker who would make it and the name for the brand; next they had to decide the blend. Jesse wanted a wine that was drinkable, and he and his father bought a selection of rosés to taste. They made notes about the colors of the wines and what flavors and aromas they liked. They spent time in the vineyard and the winery where they played with test tubes of wines and learned the effects of blending one wine with another. Under Gerard’s guidance, they came up with the final blend that consists of Grenache as the foundation, Syrah for the color, Cinsault for the freshness and Mourvedre for additional structure. Twenty percent of the final blend is aged in French oak to add body to the wine. The resulting wine is a pale pink color with notes of red fruit, mint and vanilla. It is a wine of purity and leaves a mouthwatering finish.

Now that Hampton Water is in its third year, how involved are Jesse and Jon in the brand? From the start they were very hands-on with the blend. They took part in harvest, visited the different properties and began to understand the balance of art and science when it comes to making wine. Hampton Water has quickly grown in an already crowded arena and has received 90+ ratings.

LVE (Legend Vineyard Exclusive) 

Between traveling, eating at restaurants and romantic evenings, John Legend fell in love with wine. Wine has played an important role in many of his most memorable events and fans say that the music of John Legend pairs well with wine. So, when John Legend decided to produce a wine label, he knew he needed to do it credibly and with a good partner. He found that partner in Jean-Charles Boisset, proprietor of the Boisset Collection.

John and Jean-Charles met through a mutual acquaintance and became friends, bonding over food, wine, music and life. While John had been approached by others to put his name on a wine label, it was different with Jean-Charles. There was a shared energy between them, and they create LVE, which stands for Legend Vineyard Exclusive, but also represents “love” without the “o”. LVE wines are created to enjoy over shared moments and experiences.

LVE was launched in 2015 with the 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. They also produce Chardonnay and a Red blend from Napa. John wanted a light, refreshing and crisp Grenache-based rosé and in 2017 LVE released a rosé from Provence. In 2019, a French rosé sparkling wine was added to the line-up. LVE wines have scored 90+ points and the brand continues to grow and expand.

Two famous musicians and two well-known winemakers definitely created harmony between music and wine.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.