Is rosé the wine that can turn otherwise-tough New York retailers into kinder, gentler versions of themselves? Drew Barrymore, the 41-year-old actress, author, cosmetics maven and wine producer, hopes so.
Ms. Barrymore, who splits her time between her homes in New York and Los Angeles, introduced her newest wine, the 2015 Barrymore by Carmel Road Rosé of Pinot Noir, to a group of New York wine merchants over lunch at The Wayfarer restaurant in Midtown Manhattan this week.
“New York is a very tough market for anything celebrity-oriented,” Ms. Barrymore observed during a post-lunch chat along with winemaker Kris Kato of Carmel Road Winery in Monterey, Calif. The three of us met in a small private room whose stained carpet and rather grim décor seemed particularly at odds with the glamorous and ebullient Ms. Barrymore.
Mr. Kato and Ms. Barrymore were eager to describe a collaborative process that went well beyond a standard celebrity-labeled product. Mr. Kato might bring her samples of various possible blends, or Ms. Barrymore will send him pictures of wines that she tasted and enjoyed.
“There was an Italian Pinot Nero she really liked,” Mr. Kato recalled. He added: “She really liked the spice in that wine. She’ll say, ‘I really want a wine with a little spice, a little fruit.’”
Sometimes the two will send one another actual bottles of wines that they liked or they will sit down and share a bottle. Ms. Barrymore fondly recalled a shared bottle called Sexual Chocolate. Was that a wine made from actual chocolate? I asked. “It’s a red wine from a great little winery we both liked,” Ms. Barrymore replied.
Although there are two other Barrymore-labeled wines in the market currently—a Pinot Grigio and a Pinot Noir—the collaborative process was particularly important in the creation of the rosé, according to Mr. Kato, especially the color.
“We really wanted a pretty wine,” said Ms. Barrymore, looking at her pink-hued glass approvingly. But the wine had to be good. And it had to be dry. Ms. Barrymore wasn’t a fan of sweet wines. Or as she put it: “I will not dive into the sweet waters.”
Did Ms. Barrymore have a favorite New York restaurant or two where she hoped to see her wine? “If those Torrisi boys would have it I would be thrilled,” she replied. The “Torrisi boys” are Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick, who own a group of hip downtown restaurants that include Carbone, Dirty French, Santini and Parm.
How could they say no to Drew Barrymore? I asked. “I think they could,” she said with a self-deprecating laugh.
Ms. Barrymore was particularly interested in having her rosé offered by the glass. “I will pay a lot for a glass of wine in a restaurant,” she said. How much was a lot? “Probably $25-$30,” she replied. “I guess I’m not a real high-roller,” she said.
The Barrymore wine label, which features a large and rather ornate “B,” was designed by her friend Shepard Fairey, the street artist, and is the crest of her grandfather, the actor John Barrymore.
Was he was a wine drinker? I asked. After all, the tagline for her wine label is “From our family to yours.” He was not. In fact, Ms. Barrymore noted with a different sort of laugh, “I don’t come from a family-family. I don’t even have a family.” Ms. Barrymore’s best-selling memoir, ‘Little Girl Lost,’ tells that particular story.
Wine, however, has provided her with a family of sorts. “I think that’s what’s good about wine. It’s a very good binding agent, a glue of sorts,” said Ms. Barrymore. It’s a family that attracts a certain kind of person as well. As she noted, “Wine is a very passionate thing—it’s not for the faint of heart.”