It's official: Carmelo Anthony is in the wine game. The 10-time NBA All-Star, What's in Your Glass? host and current Los Angeles Laker has launched his own wine brand, VII(N) The Seventh Estate, in partnership with third-generation Rhône winemaker Stéphane Usseglio.
It all started in March 2019, when Usseglio (son of Raymond Usseglio) came across an article about Michael Wijnen, a music industry professional who pivoted to a career promoting French wines to celebrities. Usseglio tracked down Wijnen, lamenting the dearth of celebrity star power in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A month later, Wijnen was meeting with Anthony in New York and brought up the possibility of collaborating with Usseglio in the Southern Rhône. By June, Anthony was on a plane to France.
Three years later, Anthony and Usseglio are releasing their debut wine: VII(N) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Oath of Fidelity 2017 ($NA, 200 cases made). The blend of 90 percent Grenache and 10 percent Mourvèdre is sourced largely from 80-year-old vines in the Le Mourre du Gaud vineyard, adjacent to the famed La Crau plateau. The wine was fermented in concrete vats with native yeast and aged for two years in a combination of concrete and large oak barrels.
"When Carmelo came in June 2019, we spent a while visiting the vineyard together, understanding the different terroirs of Châteauneuf, and then sitting in the cellars and working on the blend," Usseglio told Wine Spectator. "It was actually very interesting to taste the different grapes and terroirs together and to have this exchange with Melo and build the wine with two noses and four hands. We exchanged a lot of thoughts and ideas, and Melo was extremely hands-on throughout the whole process."
As with Anthony’s other branded projects (see StayMe7o), VII(N) includes a reference to Anthony’s playing number, 7. The cuvée name, Oath of Fidelity, is a tribute to François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, the Haitian general and revolutionary who led Haiti's fight for independence from France in the 18th century; the oath refers to the promise Louverture, a hero of Anthony’s, asked his soldiers to take: to support freedom at the risk of their lives. In June 2021, Anthony was honored as the NBA’s inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabaar Social Justice Champion.
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