Wine Talk: Mick Fleetwood

Fleetwood Mac's drummer spent years learning about and tasting wine--which serves him well now that he makes his own
May 8, 2007

Drummer Mick Fleetwood formed the band Fleetwood Mac along with Peter Green and John McVie in 1967 (Christine McVie joined in 1970, followed by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in 1974). Since then, the group has earned 11 Grammy awards, and Fleetwood has launched his own record label, TallMan Records, to showcase emerging musicians. After years of cooking and traveling the world with his wife, Lynn, Fleetwood developed a passion for wine. In 2002, with the help of a business partner, he launched the Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar range of wines. Currently he works with seven different winemakers and wineries (including Mike Brown of Lucas & Lewellen in Santa Barbara and Firestone in Santa Ynez) to produce several varietals with grapes grown in California and Washington state.

Wine Spectator: How did you become interested in wine?
Mick Fleetwood: My wife [Lynn] loves to cook and we just started really enjoying choosing wines and trying them out and experiencing the whole inner-exchanges of tastes and so forth.

WS: Do you have a favorite food-and-wine pairing?
MF: I'm a Merlot-crazy man, and sitting down to a shank of lamb with a Merlot--I love 2002 Frog's Leap--is about as good as it gets for me.

WS: How have you developed your tasting skills?
MF: [By being] open to trying new things. Years ago I was with Lynn in London, and we were at an Indian restaurant with [musician] Al Stewart and he wanted to order a Gewürztraminer. I said, "Well, the thought of a sweet white wine is disgusting," and he said, "I'm ordering it right now--believe me, with Indian food, you'll want to take it." And lo and behold, it was fantastic.

WS: How much do you think you need to spend to get a great bottle of wine?
MF: It's fine to find a bottle of wine for $9. It can be glorious. It's just a matter of knowing what you like. In France, you can go into a restaurant in a little village and they don't even have a label on the bottle they bring to your table …They chuck it down in front of you with a lovely piece of Camembert cheese and slice of apple or a little steak and it's fantastic.

WS: Why did you decide to launch your own label?
MF: I was really enjoying [learning about] wine, and definitely sowing the seeds for something that might become a business. I was on a learning curve, and I think it's fair to say you're always on a learning curve with this art form--that's what it really is when one talks about all the ingredients and all the emotions that are often involved in getting the juice into the bottle. The torture that growers go through is immense--a bad season, a bad rain. It can be a very emotional journey. So it's a very good fit for me--that's how I sort of run my life.

WS: How involved are you in selecting and blending your wines?
MF: I'm by no means an expert at blending wine … I think I just have a knack for getting to an approachable taste that people really seem to like. Once I have a wine I've crafted that I really like, I try to test [it] with my friends before I commit it to [my label]. I'll sometimes have the wines I'm blending delivered in advance to a restaurant and have the waiter just bring it to the table, "compliments of the house"--then everyone isn't worried about saying what they really think. When lots of my friends and guests like something, I know I have a wine that I really like and that also suits the tastes of many others.

WS: Do you have a personal cellar?
MF: Yes. I'm blessed with having a funny little farm in Kula [Hawaii], and it makes for a lovely little place for my wine cellar. I have about 3,000 bottles. Most of it is my stuff.

WS: Are any wine regions close to your heart?
MF: Santa Ynez has got to be one, and Mendocino. We'll be traveling next year a lot with Fleetwood Mac, and I really am anticipating that we'll be doing some side work outside of music. I know we're playing in Italy, and we're already in negotiations with some wineries in Europe and South America. I'm very excited.


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