Dan Aykroyd goes from blues to booze in Ontario and Italian wine gets a XXX twist
Posted: November 30, 2005
has just sunk more than $850,000 into wine. Well, actually the Canadian-born comic actor and musician has invested CAN $1 million to take a nearly 6 percent stake in Ontario-based Niagara Cellars, which owns four wineries and a sales and distribution agency. His money will come in handy for a planned acquisition that will be announced sometime in the next 60 days. After kicking off a press conference in Toronto today by excusing himself to go to the washroom because he'd just had three glasses of the company's 2004 EastDell Black Cab, the one-time Blues Brother and Ghostbuster explained that he has been looking to shift money out of the United States and into his home country. "It's an investment not only in a business I love—spirits, wine and entertainment—it's an investment in the province of Ontario, in a Canadian product and in the people who work here." (That, and he hopes to make Christmas gift-giving easier this year.) This is not Aykroyd's first foray into booze (movie roles notwithstanding): He's an investor in the House of Blues restaurants and nightclubs, and this past summer, his company Alloy Brands introduced Patrón tequila to Ontario. Aykroyd likes wine enough to show up as Elwood Blues for the Wine Experience in Chicago last year
, but now he has grand plans for the Birchwood Estates, EastDell Estates, Lakeview Cellars and Thomas & Vaughan wineries. "Everywhere you go in the United States, you see Argentinian, Chilean and Australian wines, but you don't see Canadian wine on the shelves and I'd like to change that," Aykroyd said, adding that he envisions product placement of Canadian wines in future movie contracts. Perhaps someday, he joked, he'll even develop a Conehead
|From porn star to pour girl? Savanna Samson is making wine in Montalcino.
• Wine lovers in search of a little excitement may want to take a peek at Sogno Uno, which will be unveiled in February. This Italian red is bold, voluptuous and daring—and that's just the label. The wine is a collaboration between American adult-film actress Savanna Samson
—best known as the star in titles such as Savanna Takes Control
and a frequent guest on Howard Stern
's radio show—and Italian winemaker Roberto Cipresso
, who crafts Brunello for his Fattoria La Fiorita
label and is also winemaker for Argentina's Achával-Ferrer
. Lest you think a porn star can't make serious wine, Samson learned about wine by visiting France and Italy for many years with her husband, a New York wine merchant, tasting barrel samples and meeting winemakers. "I don't claim to be an expert," she says. "But I started to dream of one day having my own wine." (The wine's name means "One Dream," and she's already planning a white from Capri called Sogno Due.) With a provocative image of her on the label, Samson was sure it could sell. "I was confident it would work--even if I just carried the wine in every strip club across the country." But Samson didn't go for the easy choice. After tasting numerous wines from the 2004 vintage, she and Cipresso settled on a ménage a trois of the little-known Cesanese grape (from Lazio), Sangiovese and Montepulciano. "I loved the Cesanese," says Samson, describing it as spicy yet elegant. "It's not a wine for the masses—this wine will make you think." On the other hand, the label, a picture of her in a sheer dress, leaves very little to the imagination.
• Sauvignon Blanc is just Sauvignon Blanc, right? Not so, says one New Zealand wine writer. Keith Stewart, wine critic for a weekly magazine called the New Zealand Listener, says that New Zealand wines are so unique they should be called by native Maori names, in a system he calls "Whakararangi." So Sauvignon Blanc would be "Karaka," the Maori word for "fragrant." Red wines would be classified under "Totowhenua," or "earth's blood," and sparkling wines would be "Huka," the word for "foaming." Stewart also proposed that New Zealand classify its wine regions for quality and style just as the French do, though with Maori names, of course. The New Zealand Winegrowers organization has yet to respond to Stewart's proposal, which probably wouldn't exactly help it market the wines overseas, given that many Americans have trouble pronouncing even Sauvignon Blanc. But one person who has made his thoughts known is actor Sam Neill, who owns Two Paddocks winery in Central Otago. Neill told TVNZ, "I just think it is a lame idea that we could do without." That comment probably made Stewart's totowhenua huka.
• Anyone who reads industry news knows all too well that Canadian wine company Vincor wants nothing to do with U.S. behemoth Constellation Wines and its $1 billion takeover bid. There's no debating who's at the top of the food chain in this scenario, but if you're still not sure, just type the keyword "Vincor" into the Google News search. Due to a quirk in the way Google works, an image of an open-mouthed great white shark shows up next to the headlines about the Vincor-Constellation battle. (Apparently Canada's National Post was trying to be a bit humorous in illustrating a financial article on mergers and acquisitions.) A note to Vincor: If you start hearing Jaws music, you're gonna need a bigger boat.