Wine with starring roles on screen

An iconic Marlborough sauvignon plays a pivotal part in the drama of a French film; a Central Otago pinot gris pops up on an episode of The Big Bang Theory, while a New Zealand wine is apparently also in the glasses of guests on The Graham Norton Show.

Wine has been no stranger to film and television. Think of James Bond's taste for Bollinger.

This originated in Ian Fleming's novel, Diamonds Are Forever, and developed to a partnership in the films through the friendship of James Bond producer Albert R.

"Cubby" Broccoli and past Maison Bollinger president, Christian Bizot. Though Bollinger recently celebrated 40 years of this official relationship with a series of 007 themed products, it has not been so quick to embrace all famous fictional fans.

Having a lush like Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous as a regular imbiber of Bolly, is not something the Champagne house appears to court.

Targeted product placement has been embraced by a number of wine companies.

One of the highest profiles is California's Clos Du Val, allegedly the wine stars drink in more Hollywood movies than any other label. The company allegedly pays a four-figure sum every month for a marketing firm to keep its products "in directors' minds".

Most wineries don't have the cash to do this. And unless the wine has a prominent position in the action, it's been suggested that brief appearances do little to boost brand recognition.

So it was extreme good fortune when Cloudy Bay was featured in the film The Big Picture, directed by Eric Lartigau after it was mentioned in the novel by Douglas Kennedy on which the screenplay was based.

Not only do the protagonists take time to talk about the sauvignon blanc itself, noting its screwcap and praising its quality, it goes on to motivate the action in leading to the discovery by the leading man that his wife is having an affair.

Another bottle to hit the big time was Central Otago's Brennan pinot gris, which appeared on The Big Bang Theory. The brother of winemaker Sean Brennan is an assistant director on the show, which has also featured one of the winery's gewurztraminers in the past.

"I believe he took some of the Brennan wines to the show one day for some of the cast and crew to try," says Brennan's Mathew Abbey, "and they occasionally use them in the show as a few of the characters on the show enjoy a wine - although I believe they are watered when filming!"

Likely not so for the wines quaffed on The Graham Norton Show, which are provided by Marlborough's Invivo. After hearing Norton was a fan of New Zealand sauvignon blanc a few years back, Invivo's Tim Lightbourne contacted the show's producer and asked him if he and Norton would like to try his wines.

"The key for us is getting our wine in front of some interesting people," says Lightbourne.

Last year, Norton announced he was giving an award for the best guest on the show, recounts Lightbourne. "It wasn't to someone like Madonna or Johnny Depp who had been on the show, as the crowd expected, it was awarded to our sauvignon blanc in a giant wine glass!"

Invivo Central Otago Riesling 2012, Brennan B2 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 and Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011.
Invivo Central Otago Riesling 2012, Brennan B2 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 and Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011.


WINERIES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Other varieties from wineries that have been in the limelight:

Invivo Central Otago Riesling 2012 - $21.95
A new wine in the Invivo range, the Central Otago riesling possesses pure apricot and lemon fruit infused with notes of honeysuckle, which opens with a soft honeyed sweetness and ends on a fresh drier note.
From Farro Fresh, Advintage, Caro's, Point Wines and First Glass.

Brennan B2 Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 - $29
This fine, silky pinot noir is filled with juicy cherry and plum fruit supported by an elegant line of acid and mineral, leading to a fragrant floral and slightly smoky denouement.
Available from thegoodwine.co.nz and brennanwines.com

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 - $49
A seriously structured pinot, which balances weight with lightness in its attractive palate of concentrated plum fruit and lifted fragrant notes of spice, mineral and forest floor. Find at leading fine wine retailers.

- VIVA

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