Full disclosure: I did not want to like this wine. The name, first of all, somehow encapsulates everything that is wrong with the place. Hampton Water. Oh, haha that’s frigging hilarious. Oh, Bon Jovi, you founder of this wine company, you are so funny. Everything is so chill and pleasurable in the Hamptons that even the water is pastel colored and gives you a light buzz. The front label offers, as the wine’s provenance, simply “South of France.” Puh-leeze.
I don’t really have an opinion about Jon Bon Jovi himself one way or the other, or about his son Jesse Bongiovi, co-founder of the brand. The music is fine, the hits are undeniable. Who among you does not know that Tommy used to work on the docks, or that he and his girl are halfway there? JB senior is even widely, rightly, known as a charitable dude. He has a foundation. Early in the pandemic—remember how weird things felt, two years ago?—he started up a food bank. The man took action.
Even so: In the main, I don’t like celebrity wines. Brad and Angelina’s Provencal rosé Miraval has proven pretty decent, but on the nose I always get a whiff of custody litigation. I’ve liked Drew Barrymore since before she was flashing Letterman, and who can deny the guilty pleasures of Charlie’s Angels, but I think calling oneself a winemaker with a straight face requires putting some real time in. When Cameron Diaz started talking about her “clean” wine, I started looking for “some other” wine.
And yet. I happened to read up on Hampton Water, and discovered that the Jersey boys had partnered with Gerard Bertrand, a fellow whose wines I have long admired. He is a pioneer in the biodynamic creation of wines, a passionate advocate for coexisting with the earth and her cycles. If he wants to play gongs in his cellars, I have no objection; the wines speak for themselves.
And, I discovered, so does Hampton Water.
After literally years spent avoiding it, I got hold of a bottle and gave it a try. It is basically exactly what you want in your glass right now, as the weather calls us to our verandas, backyards, seasides. Crisp and refreshing, with a poised balance of fruit and acid. It’s sourced from Languedoc (Bertrand’s playground), 60% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah, and spent a little time in French oak, which might just be the difference maker here. It’s hard to say, and that’s fine, too: this wine is not meant to be talked about overmuch. It’s wine to open with friends and enjoy. Why my bias against it? I don’t know. But I’m to blame. I was wrong to give this wine a bad name.