Lot's of "famous" people own vineyards, or more often than not, wine labels. I don't buy a wine because I like the owner's music, movies or sports teams, however, many fans do. But I admit to having a certain curiosity about the quality of wine in the celebrity bottle.
Paul Cullen makes wine from grapes grown in California's Sierra Foothills called Sonata. He developed an appreciation of wine while touring and drinking it with guitarist Mick Ralphs. At one point in his post-band career, he even sold wine for an Italian distributor. Wine and music are a natural fit to me; Cullen as well. He married the two by forming Unplugged and Uncorked, making "wine friendly" music and selling it at wine events, rather than through big record labels.
I love the concept, but what about the wine? The Sonata Bianco is a refreshing, clean blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Its an acidic wine with citrus and apricot flavors. I'm not sure I would've guessed there was any Chardonnay in there had I not known. It was just enough for some extra body but thankfuly no oak Very enjoyable!
The Sonata Rosso is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Cab Franc. I tasted allspice, clove and some creamy vanilla and caramel. I shared some with another wine lover who picked up the bottle, peered in with one eye, then put it back down with a pout declaring, "I'm so sad it's all gone." I felt the same.
I interviewed Cullen for an upcoming story in Times Of The Islands Magazine (more to come on that). He told me he was most excited about his Rose', the only one of the three I haven't tried yet. It's an interesting blend of Petit Syrah and Fiano, a rare Italian grape. Cullen says it is refreshing but still dry with watermelon undertones. Sounds perfect for summer. Sonata wines aren't widely distributed but you can get them. Retailing around $15 each, they are more than worth the hunt. Sip a glass while listening to his new music for double the pleasure. It's a fabulous combination!
Cullen will be pouring wine and performing live in Fort Myers in May, Labor Day week. Look for him at Yabo and Twisted Vine. I'll keep you posted on other appearances and remind you Southwest Floridians when the time nears. Cheers.