Courtney Taylor-Taylor is the front man for the Portland, Ore.-based psychedelic-rock group the Dandy Warhols. The four-piece band found success in the late 1990s with pop chart singles "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth" and "Bohemian Like You," toured with David Bowie and the Rolling Stones, and were the subject of the 2004 documentary, Dig! The band recently released their sixth album, … Earth to the Dandy Warhols …, followed by European and U.S. tours. Home in Portland for a brief spell between concerts, Taylor-Taylor spoke with Wine Spectator about how the record labels got him hooked on great wine, his favorite bargain Bordeaux and the wine tastes of his fellow rock stars.
WS: When did you first get into drinking wine?
CT: About 15 years ago, my band was being courted by all the major labels. They would take us out to really expensive restaurants and order a lot of wine, so I could start to figure out what I liked and didn't like. Then, about six years ago, we started our studio, the Odditorium [in Portland]. We've had [David] Bowie and Duran Duran, and the Strokes—everybody comes through there. We'd have big dinners and I needed to start finding wines that weren't $150 a bottle. One night we had The Vines, The Strokes and Jet [an Australian band] over and I needed a lot of wine. The [wine] store owner filled up two cases of $10- to $20-a-bottle wines and said, "Taste as many of these as you can tonight and [try] to remember which ones you like and which ones you don't." I think the only one out of that first batch that I liked was a Gigondas. Then next time, it was Duran Duran and [director] Gus Van Sant. Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran is a wine snob, absolute '80s Bordeaux-head, so I got a couple of cru bourgeois-y Bordeaux and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I went back to the store owner and he said, "You have the palate of an old French person. Here's something that's going to blow you away." It was a '95 or '96 Bordeaux. It was everything I dreamed I wanted.
WS: So you're big on mid-'90s Bordeaux?
CT: The price is right and they're old enough. I can excuse $15 a glass, which comes out to $60 a bottle. That will get you into 10-,12-, even 13-year-old Bordeaux that are beautiful, like Clerc-Milon. I try not to spend willy-nilly, but boy, I like wine.
WS: What do you drink on an everyday basis?
CT: There's a Lynch-Bages neighbor called Château Hanteillan, which was phenomenal from the mid-'90s to 2000. I just got 10 or 12 cases of the 1996, four or five of the 2000. I've had a few Clos Los Lunelles, which is a Côtes du Castillon. Château Figeac, that's another one I like. It's the first Bordeaux that I bought several cases of.
WS: Do you have a wine cellar?
CT: Yes, I've had one for about a year. I'm constantly trying wines [on tour], but you can't really order wines and have them shipped to America, so we just keep the corks. Then I get online and start finding out who has what wines and can ship them. I've been told by my wife that I have to stop buying wine when the cellar is full. We used to go through a case a week because I'd have dinner parties, but with traveling, I keep buying and not drinking. … [In 2009] I'll start having big dinners again. It will start to dwindle and I'll have to say goodbye to vintages. You just can't make more 1986 Pontet-Canet.
WS: What will you collect when you've gone through your '80s and '90s Bordeaux?
CT: I've started buying up 2005s and a lot of 2000s, so that should get me through to 2015. Everybody's slamming the 2007 Bordeaux, saying it's not worth the price, but I'll start sniffing them when they're out, start tasting a lot of $35 '07s and we'll see.
WS: Have you traveled to many wine regions?
CT: My wife and I were in Bordeaux on our honeymoon. It was really fun. Bordeaux was like the holy land. We went to Château Léoville-Barton and took pictures like it was some kind of temple. When we tour, we try to make sure we have a lot of time in wine country. We were just in Piedmont. I drank half a bottle of a 1945 Barbera. It was light and floral.
WS: Do you put wine on your tour riders?
CT: Oh yeah. It has to be Bordeaux. I need two bottles of Bordeaux, so I can drink one that night and save the other. I stack them up on the bus and get a couple bottles ahead, so I can really have a nice dinner.
WS: Is there a kind of "wine club" among your musician friends?
CT: The Strokes have a couple expensive wine snobs. The two guitarists, Nick [Valensi] and Albert [Hammond, Jr.], they're really into it. Albert is big with Haut-Brion. Nick Rhodes [from Duran Duran] too. Whenever I've scored some fantastic wine and am sitting down to an amazing meal with a '67 Léoville-Barton or whatever, I'll text [them]: "You'll never believe what I'm having."
WS: What are you going to do when you stop touring? Any plans to pick up a vineyard?
CT: I'm never going to stop touring. The Rolling Stones have flown us out the last couple of years to play some shows with them, and they're 60-something. Mick [Jagger] is in better physical shape than anyone in my band. You don't ever really stop this—the lifestyle is too good. And as long as I do that, then I can afford to let other people make the wine and I'll buy it from them.
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