Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She has the same taste in wine estates as Pitt and Jolie

Who knew I would ever have anything in common with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?

It turns out we're like this when it comes to wine, because we're all fans of Chateau Miraval. That's the extraordinarily beautiful and secluded wine estate in Provence that they have just rented for three years.

I spent a couple of nights there nine years ago while tasting my way through the region and can report that the world's most famous couple will have more than decent wines to sip. Miraval now produces three fish-friendly dry whites, two savory reds, a delicious dry rose and a luscious sweet wine, L'Or de Miraval.

Tile roofs, sky-blue shutters, warm creamy stone, fountains, olive trees on a steep hillside, 75 acres of vineyards -- Miraval is everyone's secret dream of a home in the South of France. From my room in the 14th century part of the chateau, the view stretched over a wide green lawn to rows of vines.

I sampled the estate's wines in a light-filled room off the country kitchen and later dined with neighboring producers in the long medieval hall with an immense fireplace.

I also took a peek at the recording studio on the property (Sting once used it; the Stones left after one night -- not enough local action). The estate even has a tiny private chapel.

Tom Bove, whose family owns the property, told me last week that Pitt and Jolie "dropped out of the sky."

"They're personally very nice," he said in the telephone interview. "Brad is from the Midwest, as I am."

Bove, 65, is an Indiana-born businessman (Rochem Group) who fell in love with Miraval in 1992 when he and his first wife, Jane, were looking for a vacation home. He persuaded his family to purchase the 1,000-acre estate. His wife took charge of the vineyards, and they set about vastly improving the wines' quality. Tragically, she died in a 1998 plane crash.

The Pitt-Jolie household, including four kids plus expected twins (who may or may not already have arrived when you read this), won't have to worry about toxic chemical sprays on the grapes since the vineyards are certified organic.

When Brad and Angelina first visited, they tried the savory, salmon-colored 2007 Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose ($16) with lunch.

"It's the first vintage to be labeled " 'Pink Floyd,' " Bove says. (The band recorded part of their iconic album "The Wall" at Studio Miraval.)

Naturally, the Brangelina buzz has already spurred wine sales.

"We've been inundated with calls from retailers," says Andrew Hirko, chief financial officer at the chateau's East Coast importer, Monarchia Matt International. "We're sold out of the rosé, and the red and white are nearly gone."

Elin McCoy