Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Zinfandel

Big, juicy and plump with smouldering accents.

Dark ruby colour, intense aromas of cherry, forest fruits and plum, sweet spices, cinnamon and vanilla, and toasted nuances of cocoa, on the palate well balanced with intense flavours, high acidity, mellow tannins, and a smokey, dry finish.

Food pairings:

This wine expresses depth in aromas but a light body with a soft mouth feel. It would be best paired with simple meat dishes or pasta. Some examples include: barbecued meat pork or chicken, spaghetti with tomato sauce, meatballs in tomato sauce.

Entrance to Francis Coppola Winery
Entrance into the Francis Coppola winery and resort

This Zinfandel is part of Francis Coppola’s Diamond collection, which includes 12 different wines produced from traditional Californian varietals with vineyards spread across California. The wine is a blend of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Syrah, sourced from Coppola’s vineyards in Amador county, Lodi and Paso Robles, with 10 months ageing in French oak.

Niebaum-Coppola mansion in the Francis Coppola winery
Niebaum-Coppola mansion in the Francis Coppola winery

They say you should not judge a book by its cover, often with the implication that the inside contents are more interesting than what the cover may provoke. But how does that hold up for celebrity wines? Does the wine inside the bottle manage to live up to the star dusted glamour of the name?

One can’t deny that it’s a great selling point, and while I certainly don’t want to imply that celebrities shouldn’t make wine purely because they are celebrities, I do take issue with the view of wine as a marketable commodity in a plethora of consumer goods designed to dazzle us into buying them instead of something embedded in history and tradition, and for many part of a way of life. In short, it’s not the latest gadget on the market that nobody really needs but every one wants.

It is with these things in mind that I drank Francis Coppola’s Diamond Collection Zinfandel. Immagine my disappointment when I discovered that the winery itself was inspired by the idea of an amusement park!

Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen

“I’ve always been influenced by the idea of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, which was the inspiration for ultimately all modern amusement parks. …a pleasure garden for all people to enjoy, which perhaps is the best phrase to describe what we’re creating here.”

– Francis Coppola

A pleasure garden? An actual wine wonderland resort? The property boasts two restaurants, a pool, a park area with games tables, a performing arts pavilion, and a movie gallery with memorabilia from Coppola’s film making career, in addition to vineyards on and off site. A capitalist driven, money making, mindless consumerism exploiting enterprise that trivialises wine and wine drinking! …But they say you should not judge a book by its cover.

One of the restaurants at the Coppola winery overlooking the vineyards

The swimming pool at the Coppola winery

The Movie Gallery at the Coppola winery

On further investigation and reflection, my skepticism was put in check. Coppola’s inspiration for making wine came from the memories of how his grandfather would make wine in the basement of his childhood apartment in New York. His uncle would say they weren’t “fancy wines” but “pleasant, everyday drinking wines” to be shared with family and friends.

Francis Coppola on set with the cast of The Godfather
Francis Coppola on set with the cast of The Godfather

After the success of the Godfather films, Coppola and his family started to look for a cottage retreat in Napa Valley where he could make a little wine as his grandfather did. In 1975 he purchased the Niebaum mansion on the Inglenook Estate, one of the most important and historic wineries in California, and began restoring the property with the vision of not only producing wine, but recreating the spirit of wine drinking that his grandfather’s legacy had impressed on him.

“I’ve often felt that modern life tends to separate all the ages too much. In the old days, the children lived with the parents and the grandparents, and the family unit each gave one another something very valuable. So when we began to develop the idea for this winery, we thought it should be like a resort, basically a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.” -Francis Coppola

Francis Coppola at his winery
Francis Coppola at his winery

Typically, words like “fun for the whole family ” and “celebrate life ” have me running for the hills in fear of drowning in superficial aphorisms that are so hackneyed they’ve lost all meaning. Here, instead, I see a clear vision, the conception of an idea and the ingenuity to carry it out. It may be a bit cliche, it may have underlying capitalist motives, but I feel it is at least authentic.

Other celebrities involved in wine making include Dan Aykroyd, Gérard Depardieu, Sting, Lorraine Bracco, Drew Barrymore, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Sam Neil, and even Queen Elizabeth II.

2 Comments

  1. We have friends in Denmark and on one of our trips there we spent a weekend together in Copenhagen. A beautiful city, except for that blot on the landscape …. Tivoli! Horrible place!

    Liked by 1 person

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