Jul 23 2012
In a wine world exclusive, WineGoggle gets down with Keith Richards, the guy who plays a bit of guitar with a certain rock band.
WineGoggle: The Stones. Wow! 50 years. You kicked off your career in 1962, one of the great French wine vintages.
Keith Richards: Obviously at the time we were not aware of this Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ werenΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t aware of anything, really. But since learning a bit about the stuff, I am proud of the connection. Just like Mick is╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ heΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s the real wine ponce.
WG: You mentioned an interest in wine during the StonesΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗ formative years?
KR: Brian (Jones) got us into red wine. HeΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗d shagged some French wine merchantΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s missus backstage after a show in Frejus, and all of a sudden we was getting these cases of Burgundy sent to us on tour. When we was bust by the cops in London, with Mick doing his Mars Bar-lingus with Marianne (Faithfull), I was sipping a Roman╬ô├╢┬ú╬ô├«├ëe Conti 1954, telling Mick what I were drinking was much better tasting. But you know MickΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼┬¼Once heΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s into that kind of thing you canΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t haul him off with a Hummer SUV.
WG: YouΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗ve been wine-tasting in South Africa, I believe?
KR: First visit was 1995 for the Voodoo Lounge gig at Ellis Park, but the organisers tried too hard to lay-on the Bourbon, Dom Perignon, vodka and all that predictable stuff. No local wine in sight back-stage, although I had a good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for breakfast on the day after the show. Thelema with ostrich egg omelette. Eat your heart out, Jamie!
WG: So when did you get around to checking out our South African vino?
KR: You wonΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t believe this, but IΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗m quite a nob at bow-hunting. Love pulling the string and watching some creature go down, arrow-inflicted. ItΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s far more sporting than blasting the thing at 200 yards with a telescope-sighted rifle. Any event, I went to the Kalahari Desert to shoot some gemsbuck and ended up visiting a few cellars in the Northern Cape. Douglas and Upington in particular. Loved it. Killer Chenin Blanc, one of my favourite wines, and fantastic sweet fortified stuff.
WG: You like Chenin! Did you see the New York Times trash South African Chenin Blanc?
KR: All critics are pricks, so I donΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t really care or read the papers for opinions. But I do like simple, austere Chenin Blanc and perhaps you guys are starting to over-complicate things. Why batter it with wood? Or mainline it with botrytis-juice? Your best Chenins are crisp, clean with the complexity being wrapped in a cloak of expressive minerality. It should be a riff, man, just an uncluttered riff.
WG: And you like the sweet stuff?
KR: IΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗m a bit of a Port fundi, if I may say so. Strokes the vocal chords, it does. Love the texture. I have all the great vintages, especially the 1963, from all the main houses. South Africa has killer Port, probably the best outside Portugal. It is great drinking it on a cold night in the African bush. Muratie is as good as any vintage Port anywhere, with characteristics of tobacco, cloves and leather which I find quite haunting. South Africa has great Muscadels, too, although I enjoy mixing these half-and-half with Jack DΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s to cut the sweetness.
WG: Johnny Depp, your son in the Pirate of the Caribbean series is also into his wine. Did it bring you two closer?
KR: Johnny is smitten by Bordeaux, and expecially Calon Seg╬ô├╢┬ú╬ô├▓├ªr, although IΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗m more of a St Emilion guy than a St Est╬ô├╢┬úΓö¼ΓöÉphe.
But look, Calon rocks. The Chateau has this clay patch on the property that gives the Cabernet Sauvignon a gritty edge. As a result, the flavours cut through any tobacco smoke allowing Johnny and me to get to full grips with the berry-side of the fruit.
We actually mainlined a glass each to confirm our brotherhood to Calon.
WG: How are we going to get wine into the rock Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£ΓöÉn roll narrative and reach out to a younger crowd?
KR: Well, one has to promote wineΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s ability to bring out the best in certain drugs. Ordinary Champagne and coke is great, but once youΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗ve had a few lines of Bolivian with a really good vintage Krug, you know you are onto something mind-boggling. And stuff your fancy Havana cigars Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ red wine and weed is the real deal. Moroccan hash and Burgundy Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ man, you think good Aloxe-Corton rocks your world on its own, but try it with a bit of smoke.
Not thatΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s rock and roll.