2006 Virgin Vines Shiraz – Richard Branson’s Wine Marketing Impresses, the Wine Not so Much

    2006VirginShirazStarkCellarsAren’t the Brits cheeky little ones? Billionaire Brits are a whole different game. Case in point: Sir Richard Branson; a Rolling Stone loving thrill seeking adventurer with enough money to make things very interesting.

    Music, of course, is his calling card. But then there’s the airline (Virgin Air), the cell phone service (Virgin Mobile), the space missions (Virgin Galactic) and umpteen other ventures. Heck, a few years back he even ventured into reality TV, with poor ratings, but with a freestyle, fun loving charm that was addictive.

    So then, why not a wine business too!

    I guess the thinking was to partner with a California vineyard, apply the cheeky, carefree Virgin marketing touch, and distribute like mad at a value price point.

    On that plan, I’d say: +1 for marketing, -1 for product.

    The label is distinctive, but not the wine, as is so often the case with overly creative labels. Typically the best wines speak for themselves, and do not need gimmicks, instead relying on word of mouth and positive reviews from influential wine critics.

    This wine, a 2006 Shiraz, is just so wrong in so many ways. The nose is harsh and slightly pungent. If this is their meaning of “big bold” then call me a wimp. The flavor is no better, with strong chemical undertones. I found myself with no other ways to describe it. 

    There are so many other wines in the $10-15 range I would choose over this one. This Shiraz is so far off the Australian gold standard, it’s almost embarrassing. But then again a few billion dollars can earn you some bravado.

    I did get a kick out of the label though, from the back of the bottle:

    If you feel the need to describe this wine as “full bodied with great legs.” we suggest you lie down until the feeling passes.

    Well I’m standing. In fact I almost feel like dancing, it’s the weekend and we have a new president elect.

    STARK INSIDER WINE REVIEW

    2006 Virgin Shiraz 
    Virgin Vines, Hopland, California
    Shiraz, Alc. 13.5%
    750ml
    $8.99 (Cost Plus World Market)

    Clint says: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin brand stretches a little too far. Better to stick with music, airlines and space.

    Rating: 70 out of 100

    IMG_6510
    Loni snapped this while enjoying the business lounge in Heathrow.

    Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
    Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.
    • Jim Caudill

      <p>I thought you might find it interesting to know that this wine was selected as the best Shiraz in California at this year's California state fair.</p> <p>That's what makes wine so interesting; there are lots of styles that appeal to a wide range of tastes. Also wine wines are usually evaluated blind, so nothing influences what is thought of the wine except the wine itself.</p> <p>Here are what some other folks have said about this wine:</p> <p><br /> Maynard Johnston, California Wine<br /> 98 Points<br /> &ldquo;Beautiful cherry oak aroma with strawberry undertones. Flavor of cherry and fine oak with a hint of bacon. Nice, long finish.&rdquo; September, 2008</p> <p>James Laube, Wine Spectator<br /> 86 Points/Very Good<br /> A Wine With Special Qualities<br /> &ldquo;Extraordinary values abound in this selection of 15 very good to outstanding Syrahs from California's Rh&ocirc;ne grape proponents. Among the excellent value findings in this report are a $10 Shiraz from Virgin Vines&hellip;which would also merit consideration as 12-bottle acquisition.</p> <p>Smooth, with ripe, juicy plum and wild berry fruit that drinks easy. Drink now.&rdquo; September 3, 2008</p> <p>Best Value November 30, 2008</p> <p>Tasting Panel, International Wine Review<br /> 86 Points<br /> &ldquo;This is an entry level Syrah blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Brown-Forman and Virgin Atlantic Chief Richard Branson. It is very approachable offering pret&not;ty plum fruit with smoky toasty and butterscotch aromas, followed by black raspberry fruit and sweet vanilla notes on the palate. A pleasant and well-made quaffing wine.&rdquo; June, 2008</p> <p>John Breitlow, Winona Daily News<br /> &ldquo;Cool evenings and shorter days herald the approach of fall hunting seasons. I find that most game &mdash; wild or farm raised &mdash; is best when accompanied by crisp, medium-bodied red wines that offer ample fruit but moderate levels of alcohol and tannins. Wild game also goes well with dry red wines of rich, elegant and complex Rh&ocirc;ne Valley styling such as top-value Virgin Vines Shiraz.&rdquo; September 12, 2008</p> <p>Rick Lyke, Lyke 2 Drink<br /> &ldquo;This California wine is ruby red with a cassis nose and dried berry flavor that finishes with just a hint of spice.&rdquo; October 21, 2008</p> <p>Medals</p> <p>Best of California<br /> Best of Class, California State Apellation<br /> Double Gold Medal<br /> California State Fair</p> <p>Gold Medal<br /> Jerry Mead&rsquo;s New World International<br /> Wine Competition</p> <p>Gold Medal<br /> West Coast Wine Competition</p> <p>Gold Medal<br /> Orange County Fair Wine Competition</p> <p>Silver Medals<br /> Riverside International Wine Competition<br /> San Francisco International Wine Competition<br /> Indy International Wine Competition<br /> Long Beach Grand Cru <br /> International Wine Competition<br /> </p>

    • Jim Caudill

      I thought you might find it interesting to know that this wine was selected as the best Shiraz in California at this year’s California state fair.

      That’s what makes wine so interesting; there are lots of styles that appeal to a wide range of tastes. Also wine wines are usually evaluated blind, so nothing influences what is thought of the wine except the wine itself.

      Here are what some other folks have said about this wine:

      Maynard Johnston, California Wine
      98 Points
      “Beautiful cherry oak aroma with strawberry undertones. Flavor of cherry and fine oak with a hint of bacon. Nice, long finish.” September, 2008

      James Laube, Wine Spectator
      86 Points/Very Good
      A Wine With Special Qualities
      “Extraordinary values abound in this selection of 15 very good to outstanding Syrahs from California’s Rhône grape proponents. Among the excellent value findings in this report are a $10 Shiraz from Virgin Vines…which would also merit consideration as 12-bottle acquisition.

      Smooth, with ripe, juicy plum and wild berry fruit that drinks easy. Drink now.” September 3, 2008

      Best Value November 30, 2008

      Tasting Panel, International Wine Review
      86 Points
      “This is an entry level Syrah blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Brown-Forman and Virgin Atlantic Chief Richard Branson. It is very approachable offering pret¬ty plum fruit with smoky toasty and butterscotch aromas, followed by black raspberry fruit and sweet vanilla notes on the palate. A pleasant and well-made quaffing wine.” June, 2008

      John Breitlow, Winona Daily News
      “Cool evenings and shorter days herald the approach of fall hunting seasons. I find that most game — wild or farm raised — is best when accompanied by crisp, medium-bodied red wines that offer ample fruit but moderate levels of alcohol and tannins. Wild game also goes well with dry red wines of rich, elegant and complex Rhône Valley styling such as top-value Virgin Vines Shiraz.” September 12, 2008

      Rick Lyke, Lyke 2 Drink
      “This California wine is ruby red with a cassis nose and dried berry flavor that finishes with just a hint of spice.” October 21, 2008

      Medals

      Best of California
      Best of Class, California State Apellation
      Double Gold Medal
      California State Fair

      Gold Medal
      Jerry Mead’s New World International
      Wine Competition

      Gold Medal
      West Coast Wine Competition

      Gold Medal
      Orange County Fair Wine Competition

      Silver Medals
      Riverside International Wine Competition
      San Francisco International Wine Competition
      Indy International Wine Competition
      Long Beach Grand Cru
      International Wine Competition

    • Jim Caudill

      I thought you might find it interesting to know that this wine was selected as the best Shiraz in California at this year’s California state fair.

      That’s what makes wine so interesting; there are lots of styles that appeal to a wide range of tastes. Also wine wines are usually evaluated blind, so nothing influences what is thought of the wine except the wine itself.

      Here are what some other folks have said about this wine:

      Maynard Johnston, California Wine
      98 Points
      “Beautiful cherry oak aroma with strawberry undertones. Flavor of cherry and fine oak with a hint of bacon. Nice, long finish.” September, 2008

      James Laube, Wine Spectator
      86 Points/Very Good
      A Wine With Special Qualities
      “Extraordinary values abound in this selection of 15 very good to outstanding Syrahs from California’s Rhône grape proponents. Among the excellent value findings in this report are a $10 Shiraz from Virgin Vines…which would also merit consideration as 12-bottle acquisition.

      Smooth, with ripe, juicy plum and wild berry fruit that drinks easy. Drink now.” September 3, 2008

      Best Value November 30, 2008

      Tasting Panel, International Wine Review
      86 Points
      “This is an entry level Syrah blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Brown-Forman and Virgin Atlantic Chief Richard Branson. It is very approachable offering pret¬ty plum fruit with smoky toasty and butterscotch aromas, followed by black raspberry fruit and sweet vanilla notes on the palate. A pleasant and well-made quaffing wine.” June, 2008

      John Breitlow, Winona Daily News
      “Cool evenings and shorter days herald the approach of fall hunting seasons. I find that most game — wild or farm raised — is best when accompanied by crisp, medium-bodied red wines that offer ample fruit but moderate levels of alcohol and tannins. Wild game also goes well with dry red wines of rich, elegant and complex Rhône Valley styling such as top-value Virgin Vines Shiraz.” September 12, 2008

      Rick Lyke, Lyke 2 Drink
      “This California wine is ruby red with a cassis nose and dried berry flavor that finishes with just a hint of spice.” October 21, 2008

      Medals

      Best of California
      Best of Class, California State Apellation
      Double Gold Medal
      California State Fair

      Gold Medal
      Jerry Mead’s New World International
      Wine Competition

      Gold Medal
      West Coast Wine Competition

      Gold Medal
      Orange County Fair Wine Competition

      Silver Medals
      Riverside International Wine Competition
      San Francisco International Wine Competition
      Indy International Wine Competition
      Long Beach Grand Cru
      International Wine Competition

    • Jim Caudill

      I thought you might find it interesting to know that this wine was selected as the best Shiraz in California at this year’s California state fair.

      That’s what makes wine so interesting; there are lots of styles that appeal to a wide range of tastes. Also wine wines are usually evaluated blind, so nothing influences what is thought of the wine except the wine itself.

      Here are what some other folks have said about this wine:

      Maynard Johnston, California Wine
      98 Points
      “Beautiful cherry oak aroma with strawberry undertones. Flavor of cherry and fine oak with a hint of bacon. Nice, long finish.” September, 2008

      James Laube, Wine Spectator
      86 Points/Very Good
      A Wine With Special Qualities
      “Extraordinary values abound in this selection of 15 very good to outstanding Syrahs from California’s Rhône grape proponents. Among the excellent value findings in this report are a $10 Shiraz from Virgin Vines…which would also merit consideration as 12-bottle acquisition.

      Smooth, with ripe, juicy plum and wild berry fruit that drinks easy. Drink now.” September 3, 2008

      Best Value November 30, 2008

      Tasting Panel, International Wine Review
      86 Points
      “This is an entry level Syrah blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Brown-Forman and Virgin Atlantic Chief Richard Branson. It is very approachable offering pret¬ty plum fruit with smoky toasty and butterscotch aromas, followed by black raspberry fruit and sweet vanilla notes on the palate. A pleasant and well-made quaffing wine.” June, 2008

      John Breitlow, Winona Daily News
      “Cool evenings and shorter days herald the approach of fall hunting seasons. I find that most game — wild or farm raised — is best when accompanied by crisp, medium-bodied red wines that offer ample fruit but moderate levels of alcohol and tannins. Wild game also goes well with dry red wines of rich, elegant and complex Rhône Valley styling such as top-value Virgin Vines Shiraz.” September 12, 2008

      Rick Lyke, Lyke 2 Drink
      “This California wine is ruby red with a cassis nose and dried berry flavor that finishes with just a hint of spice.” October 21, 2008

      Medals

      Best of California
      Best of Class, California State Apellation
      Double Gold Medal
      California State Fair

      Gold Medal
      Jerry Mead’s New World International
      Wine Competition

      Gold Medal
      West Coast Wine Competition

      Gold Medal
      Orange County Fair Wine Competition

      Silver Medals
      Riverside International Wine Competition
      San Francisco International Wine Competition
      Indy International Wine Competition
      Long Beach Grand Cru
      International Wine Competition