I recently received a press release from an old friend Patricia Schneider. We go way back to her days working for Wine Institute, the trade association representing California wineries. Now heading her own marketing and public relations firm, Patricia Schneider Associates, her newest client is Nova Wines, the Napa Valley producer of the Marilyn Merlot. I have always believed what is in the bottle is important but a beautiful and informative label helps sell the wine. For years I have enjoyed the wine that is bottled under the Marilyn Merlot label and now I know the whole story thanks to Patricia’s press release.
The 2004 sample I received is the twentieth vintage of Marilyn Merlot. The Sam Shaw 1953 photo portrait that graces the label shows Marilyn in a gown she wore in the movie How to Marry a Millionaire. The wine will be released on June 1st, Marilyn Monroe’s birthday. Entirely grown and bottled in the Napa Valley, the wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 12 months in oak, with a suggested retail price of $26.
The idea for a line of wines glorifying Marilyn Monroe, America's sweetheart, was conceived in 1983 (1985 was the first vintage) at the Napa Valley home of Bob & Donna Holder. Royalties from sales are distributed to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York and Los Angeles and to the Anna Freud Centre in London. Marilyn Wines has an exclusive agreement with the Monroe estate for the use of her name and image. There is also a Marilyn Cabernet Sauvignon ($38), Norma Jeane- a Young Merlot ($10.50) and a Marilyn Velvet Collection ($250 for a 1.5 liter bottle in a black presentation box).
For more information you can go to www.marilynwines.com - (866) MMWINES or contact your local wine shop.
The bottom of the press release mentioned “Marilyn Monroe and the Naked Grape” which is the title of a new book by Peter F. May (creator of www.winelabels.org ) from Quirk Books of Philadelphia ($16.95) that features over 100 unusual wine labels and odd wines from around the world. “This book celebrates those who have rejected pomposity and created wines with amusing names and clever labels.” There is a winery profile, tasting notes, and a full-color reproduction of each label. What one should appreciate are the addresses, phone numbers and websites (where available) for all the wineries mentioned in the book.
Look for the following: The Ball Buster, Big Ass Red, Cleavage Creek, Fat Bastard, Old Fart, Screw Kappa Napa, White Trash White and more. “It does not mean an amusing name or colorful wine label disguises an inferior wine.” I give the book a 95.