“Real men drink pink” announces Jon Bon Jovi at the European launch of Hampton Water rosé, going on to explain that he used to refer to the wine as “pink juice” because “I didn’t want my children to know I drank it so much. I love wine and I love rosé”.
Hampton Water is an aspirational lifestyle brand spearheaded by Bon Jovi’s son Jesse Bongiovi (the singer’s real name is John Bongiovi), who came up with the idea with his college roommate. With a knowing nod to The Hamptons “a place where people drink more rosé than water”, Bongiovi had already started referring to rosé as “Hampton Water” when he approached his father about creating the brand. “I said: ‘go take the business courses and get the degree and prove it’,” says Bon Jovi. So he did.
Before anyone rolls their eyes at yet another celebrity wine, this one comes with a certain pedigree – the two wisely partnered up with respected and experienced winemaker Gérard Bertrand from France’s Languedoc.
“It is a source of inspiration to create a premium rosé like this and lead the innovation for the French market,” says Bertrand. “It was always going to be French and we knew of Gerard’s credibility,” says Bon Jovi.
“He has been an amazing partner and teacher,” agrees Bongiovi, “and with his guidance, since launching in the US in 2018, we have had 90-point ratings for four years running”.
Speaking about the steep learning curve into winemaking, Bon Jovi talks about the time he was being taught about terroir and was told to lick a rock: “And I thought, hey, this guy is just trying to get me to lick a rock,” adding with a shrug, “so I licked the rock”. “It was important for us to be hands on,” adds Bongiovi, describing many days with Bertrand, working with test-tubes and droppers to perfect the blend.
“Never assume my celebrity means anything,” says Bon Jovi, “it is about the wine,” and it is also about creating a family legacy. “Being in business with my son is one of life’s greatest joys,” he adds, gesturing across Paris’s Café de l’Homme, where the launch party took place. “I remember coming here when Jesse was a little kid and eating ice cream on this terrace, so now to be back here with him, with a business he has created… that’s a great thrill for me”.
The bold label design, showing a swimmer “diving into Hampton Water” is certainly eye-catching, even if the “aspirational” Hamptons lifestyle is a reference not everyone in Europe will get. With 35 years’ experience, Bertrand created a “harmonious and racy rosé,” blending Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre.
A naturally food-friendly style of wine, this is not necessarily the focus here. “The best thing that goes with a glass of Hampton Water,” says Bongiovi with a smile, “is another glass of Hampton Water”.
• Hampton Water has partnered with Hard Rock Café and will be available from Majestic at £16.99.