What follows “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”? The equally hedonistic mantra of “wine, women and song.” And like those of any true-blue rocker, the lyrics in New Jersey-born musician Jon Bon Jovi’s catalog are peppered with boozy references. In 1987’s wild west outlaw-inspired “Wanted Dead or Alive,” he admits that “sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink,” and morosely reflects on love gone bad in 1995’s “Bitter Wine.” He was said to be nursing a hangover when he penned 1993’s “Bed of Roses,” in which he rues a vodka-induced headache that he seeks to cure with morning-after whiskey.
But a little older, his once-teased blonde glam band hairstyle cropped shorter and turned salt and pepper, Bon Jovi has a penchant for wine these days. Quaffable French rosé to be specific, which he loves to throw back with his family on sunny days in the Hamptons. So much so that he and son Jesse (who uses the family’s last name of Bongiovi) decided to launch their own brand, a label dubbed Diving into Hampton Water that’s a collaboration with South of France winemaker Gérard Bertrand. The wine is made in a fresh, lively, mineral-driven style with Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah grapes sourced from vineyards close to the ocean where cool breezes maintain freshness, and 25% of it sees some oak to mellow it. Diving into Hampton Water is set to hit store shelves this spring at a retail price of $25 per bottle.
On February 23, 2018, it was unveiled at a private party for around 200 guests at Villa Casa Casuarina in South Beach, a 10-room luxury boutique hotel that used to be the private residence of designer Gianni Versace. That evening, before an acoustic set of some of his greatest hits of his decades-spanning career (he’ll be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this spring), Bon Jovi reflected on his friendship with Versace and his sister Donatella, as well as that of Bertrand, telling the crowd that old friends were no doubt smiling down on new ones. He spoke affectionately of the chance to work alongside—and technically for—his son. “People say that working in a band is like a family and it is,” he noted. “But truly working with your own son is probably one of the great thrills that I’ve ever had.”
For his part, Bongiovi (a Notre Dame alumni and former football player who serves as co-founder of Diving into Hampton Water), says the project was inspired by the good times he’s spent with family and friends on the East Coast over the years. “For us, rosé is something that brings people together and we wanted to share that feeling of the perfect Hamptons day,” he muses. “When you drink Hampton Water you’re immediately brought right back to so many amazing times with friends and family.”
Admittedly, they knew the final product had to be something light, dry and refreshing they could uncork all throughout the day and evening, with that pale pink color all the rage among fans of Provençal brands sold and sipped all year long. “I think it has become popular because it is approachable,” Bongiovi notes. “So many wines intimidate consumers, [but] we welcome all—rosé is fun and easy.”
Bertrand, who manages vineyards in the South of France and is a proponent of biodynamic winemaking, hosts a jazz festival each year at his main wine estate Château l’Hospitalet, and sees an organic connection between wine and music. So, striking up a relationship and partnership with Bon Jovi—who visited him several times at his properties along with his wife Dorothea as well as Jesse to blend and taste—was effortless and synergistic. “For me, it was important to make the link between the energy of Jon with the music and rock ‘n roll, and I wanted to create a wine with a lot of energy,” Bertrand says. (As a teenager, Bertrand was more familiar with another NJ rocker, Bruce Springsteen, but his love of international music introduced him to Bon Jovi songs like “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “It’s My Life.”) “I love what he has done, he’s an iconic rock star.”
It also didn’t hurt that Bertrand saw similarities between the carefree lifestyle and gorgeous sunsets of places like The Surf Lodge in Montauk in the Hamptons and those in the South of France, comparisons that truly allowed the trio to craft a wine that evokes a sense of place despite the fact it’s named for a spot that’s 3,500 miles from where it’s produced.
But back to that perpetual association of rock with wine and spirits. While the days of groupies and ever-present bottles of Jack may have been replaced by laid-back seaside family vacations, Bon Jovi is still adamant about his thirst for liquid indulgence. He announced to the crowd that night that he and Jesse were already quite familiar with Bertrand’s wines before making their own, consuming quite a bit of them over the years. “I don’t have a problem,” he joked, “I’m actually just quite good at it.”
Here are a few other fun rosés to try:
The Infinite Monkey Theorem ($15/4 250ml cans)
Perfectly portable for the beach, boat, pool or park, this recyclable canned wine from the urban winery with locations in Denver and Austin is fuchsia in the glass, with intense notes of strawberries and raspberries, slight carbonation for freshness, great acidity, and just a touch of residual sugar to make it endlessly drinkable. “The ubiquity of rosé lends itself to a more accessible single-serve style of packaging, says CEO and winemaker Ben Parsons. “Take it anywhere, drink it anywhere and when you’re dancing, don’t pour it out of the can into a glass because it will end up all over you.” The winery team loves it with grilled salmon or goat cheese.
Cross a pink-tinged sparkling wine with a White Zinfandel and a Provençal rosé, and you get this new easy-drinking fizzy offering from California. It’s strawberry-hued in the glass, with ripe berry aromas and flavors to match, along with watermelon and red cherry. “[It’s] the ultimate crossover wine, delivering all the sophistication of still wine with broader appeal,” touts Jon Guggino, vice-president of marketing for Clos du Bois. “[It’s] fun, festive and ideal for sharing with friends and family.” Try it with strawberry shortcake, watermelon salad with feta, grilled prawns or salmon with a teriyaki glaze.
This wine is produced in Swartland, the region referred to as “the land of South Africa’s hipsters” that’s finally ready for its closeup after being overlooked far too long for showier regions like Stellenbosch. It’s produced with grapes from really old vines and boasts complex red fruits, spice, rose water, and a gorgeous line of minerality. It’s the thinking oenophile’s choice for sipping year-round that works with grilled spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, shrimp steamed in Old Bay Seasoning or seared pepper-crusted ahi tuna.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.