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.


    2006 Virgin Shiraz 
    Virgin Vines, Hopland, California
    Shiraz, Alc. 13.5%
    $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

    Loni snapped this while enjoying the business lounge in Heathrow.

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