Singer Julio Iglesias, 64, has sold more than 250 million albums worldwide. But becoming an internationally renowned singer was a bit of an accident, since what Iglesias really wanted was to play for legendary soccer team Real Madrid. He enjoyed a short stint with the team as its goalkeeper, but a near-fatal accident in 1962 left him unable to walk for two years. It was during his recuperation that Iglesias began writing songs and learning music, and the rest is history—literally, since Iglesias has sold more albums in more languages than any other artist. And just like that accident that changed his life for the better, it was a whimsical tasting in the early '70s that turned Iglesias into a lifelong wine lover and, eventually, led him to build a vast collection over the past three decades.
Wine Spectator: How and when did you first become interested in wine?
Julio Iglesias: I got interested in wines in 1972, one afternoon, having lunch with Roman Polanski and two photographers. I remember I was not interested in wines. But I was having lunch and I asked what was a good wine to the barman, and they took away the glasses from the table and brought a new wine--not in the bottle, but in the carafe. It was a '51 Lafite. And I became crazy about the wine. I understood for the first time the pleasure of the taste of an incredible wine.
WS: What are some of your favorite wines today?
JI: I don't have very many favorite wines. It depends on the circumstances. I started to collect wines in 1973, and I very much appreciate the wine, but tonight I will work until four o'clock, and I will be very tired, so I will not drink a wine tonight. But normally if I have time and it's a casual conversation I will open a good Pauillac or a good Pomerol. I will not open a Romanée-Conti in a casual conversation. But I will open a good wine in a good year. I['ve] collect[ed] wines for 30 or 40 years, [but] I'm not a big buyer like I used to be.
WS: How many bottles do you have?
JI: Fifty thousand? I was buying and buying and buying and buying. I drink wine every night a little and I have tastings with my friends. Unfortunately, for my age, I will not be able to drink all of them! My main cellar is in the south of Spain, in two main rooms. One is underground. I keep maybe 60 percent of my wines there. The other 40 percent is in Florida in my house and in a [rented] wine cellar. And at my house in the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, I keep three or four thousand wines there.
WS: Is there a wine you don't have that you really want?
JI: Le Pin is quite impossible—it's quite difficult to buy any today. And I'm not interested in buying very many more Romanées because I have a good collection, and I won't have time to drink it all.
WS: If you could only drink one wine from your collection for the rest of your life, what would it be?
JI: If I know, and I would not be disappointed [through the years] with the way the wine is tasting I would go to the Latours. If I had to taste a wine with the same flavor all the time I would take a good Château Pétrus or a Le Pin—a great Pomerol.
WS: Who is the most interesting winemaker you've ever met?
JI: I was very impressed with Robert Mondavi. What he did was not easy. [But] I'm much more impressed with the people who make the wines, who are 65 years old and worked in the same vineyard with their father, and follow the vineyard from the first day to the second week of September to the next September. They really care about the vineyard. That's what I appreciate very much.
WS: If Real Madrid wins the Champions League this year, what wine will you open to celebrate?
JI: I don't think I'll be able to open one, because I don't think they're going to make it! [Ed: He was right--Real Madrid was eliminated in the early rounds of the tournament.] We have great players, but we don't have a great team. It's like we have a great vineyard, but we don't have a great winemaker. But when they finally win it will be my last '85 Romanée magnum.