Ever wanted to know what Whitesnake taste like? Now's your chance as they have bottled the essence of their music in the form of Zinfandel.
Lead singer David Coverdale's love of wine started back in the '70's and the days when he fronted the band Deep Purple. Certainly not taking a back seat in rock music nowadays, David takes the time to indulge in the finer things - one of which being his love of the good stuff.
Here he talks to us about how his love affair (for wine) started and why wine and rock music are a match made in heaven.
What sparked your interest in wine and how did the Whitesnake wine get started?
I’m from a British working class background, so, ‘wine’ was unheard of in our household, sadly, it was an upper class, aristo’s drink. I started tasting wine and developed a taste for wine after I started as a student at Art College.Of course, it was cheap Spanish red wine - German Blue Nun Liebfraumilch for white, a Chianti Ruffino with the raffia packaging, if we were lucky. As an art student, some of my fellow students were a little more worldly and traveled than myself, so I just joined in and experienced and fell in love - with wine, that is, and the love affair continues.
After being introduced to Dennis De La Montanya by our mutual friend Ken Ciancimino, I was intrigued to sample Dennis’ wines and once nicely bitten we opened dialogue immediately on the possibilities. We ultimately decided on a Zinfandel - Primitivo as we call it in Europe. It felt right for a Whitesnake wine - a decent, affordable price, naughty, spicy, peppery red with some nice heat, that once again, felt ‘right’.
Dennis loves rock music and I love wine...‘tis a marriage made in Heaven, I tell you...
What do you look for in a wine?
Dennis says I seek ‘elegance’ in my wines and yes I do favor elegant wines. I’m a fool for very dry, white Burgundies - Chassagne, Puligny and...sigh...Chevalier Montrachet simply take my breath away with their layers, depth, sensuality, colour. Certain wines just ‘talk’ to me and I embrace the conversation, of course!
I adore big bodied, robust flavorful reds that fill my mouth. I’m not averse to lighter reds, of course, but, I rarely indulge in a red for lunch, too heavy if I’m working. But, give me deep, fruitful Italian red in the evening & my palate sings.
Of course, to me, high end French wines are more ‘serious’,more exploratory and reflective. I’ve actually just finished a Keever Cabernet, an excellent Californian wine that I find is considerably competitive with European wines & it’s still resonating with me an hour later.
De La Montanya reds are a delight, too - I keep discovering his beautifully layered reds, obviously made by people who actually care about this living, breathing thing, and of course, he tops it off with...mmm...what was it again?...Oh, I know...alcohol!...Dennis likes his alcohol to be noticed and so do I.
After your experience in the wine business, what do you think the average wine drinker should look for when choosing a wine?
For me, I’d go to wine tastings and explore what wines resonate with your palate. There are plenty around - seek and ye shall find.
With the Whitesnake wines I feel there is a collectors element, of course, but, Dennis and I always want to make it price agreeable for my core audience and as good a quality as possible without going over the top, so, my advice is not only collect it, but enjoy drinking it too. We had very, very positive responses to the Zinfandel -I think we were both pleasantly surprised.
Which regions in your opinion produce some of the best wines?
Immediately, I go to Burgundy, Tuscany...but, with my recent exposure to Californian wines I must add Russian River, Sonoma.
There has been a huge rise in popularity of social media – how do you think this has affected the wine industry and how people communicate? The same can be said for the music business too.
Hmm...there’s a documentary I always recommend to people called ‘Mondo Vino’, it shows how the larger global corporations are taking over many quality wineries and basically forcing them to oxygenate and spend shorter time in new oak barrels, add vanilla to taste. God, it makes wines so generic and characterless. Wines should have an individual personality.
I actively seek independent wineries and support them as much as possible. As a businessman I’m not naive in the sense that I don’t understand that some people want to exploit and maximize the earning potential of their wines, but in some cases it’s too compromising a price to pay, I feel. It’s sad to see the generational approach dying away - the family business replaced by ‘corporate’ wines that all taste the same. Not for me.
How would you compare the music industry with wine making? Is it similar in some ways?
In some ways wine does sing to me, ha ha!. But, being creative with your gifts, rolling with the punches, the mood swings, marketing, promotion, heart and soul. Yes, there are definite similarities. I feel they go together very well.
It’s not often that people associate wine with rock music – what would you say to change their minds?
We were very encouraged by the response to our wine. Nobody negated it, it’s simply the fact that not a lot of artists even consider expanding their reach.
With Whitesnake I have a song preaching my rather basic, lower chakra philosophy of ‘Wine, Women and Song’. I rest my case...
What was the process for choosing which wine you wanted to produce? For example, the Zinfandel 2008 – is this one of your favourites?
Dennis sent me several sample wines to try and the Zinfandel simply resonated. We packaged it very elegantly.
How and where do you like to enjoy your wines?
To be honest, any occasion is appropriate for me. I can enjoy a glass or two on my own, reading, sitting watching the sun go down, but my idea of a great evening would be with several friends, enjoying dinner & good conversation, accompanied by fine grape.
Do you have any favourite food and wine matches?
I immediately flashed on sushi and sake. Other than a glass of Japanese beer I find nothing else works with sushi. I prefer a dry, room temp sake and also unfiltered, of course - Hot doesn’t do it for me...well...in terms of drinking...
If we’re having wine for lunch, I’ll most likely open a La Scolca Gavi de Gavi, the Black Label. A lovely light, flavorful, dry Italian wine, not too heady. It’s the evening I anticipate - bring on those Montrachets, baby!
Will you be releasing any more wines?
I hope so. Dennis and I couldn’t decide on a Pinot Noir, or a Cabernet, so we may release both. The more the merrier for me. It’s pretty cool having your own label.
What advice do you have for the average and unpretentious wine lover?
Sample away. Try, don’t be shy, have fun with it.. Certainly don’t risk spending more than your budget allows until you’ve educated your palate a little more.
When I was an art student the introduction of wine into my life - even a cheap red with a fresh baguette, a selection of cheeses and cured meats, was nothing less than bliss. I can still taste it, explosive!
Sometimes less can be more and more can mean much less in terms of pleasure. Like most things in life, don’t be afraid to try...you never know...it may be the journey of a lifetime...