AC/DC Wine Back in Black Shiraz & Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc

This year London Southbank Centre hosted a Festival of Death exploring why dealing with,
Posted 04th July 2012        

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This year London Southbank Centre hosted a Festival of Death exploring why dealing with, as the Telegraph’s obituaries editor put it, “relentless tide of death” in fact can be uplifting.

Apart from other amusing objects visitors of the festival could enjoy an exhibition of coffins. I doubt you see more imagination at use at any wedding fair.

Modern coffins and ancient ones, coffins from Nottingham and Ghana, coffins that look like a giant coffee bean and a ballet shoe. A giant can of Red Bull transformed in a coffin reminded me of a famous “Kiss Casket“. Adding another product to the band’s  merchandise range, Gene Simmons of Kiss said that fans are welcome to buy caskets now and use them straight after purchase – as a cooler. “We figured, why not use it while you’re alive? For a guy that’s home watching the game in the living room, he could just reach over and grab a cold one,” Simmons said.

If this guy were looking for a consistency of style, he could opt for a cold one from Kiss too – since a few years ago the band started their own wine range, one of which was honestly called Destroyer.

This is hardly a fresh idea – Rolling Stones, Metallica, Madonna, Whitesnake и Motorhead all used their names on wine labels.

But when I’ve learnt that AC/DC is going to release their wine I was a bit surprised.

“Why bother? They sold 200 million copies of their albums, were never involved in cheap product placement. Selling perfumes and coffins named after their band is not their style,” my diplomatic colleague – and musician, who plays in his own band – said.

AC/DC announced last year that they are going to produce four wines in partnership with Australian company Warburn Estates. All the wines are called after the band’s hits: Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon, Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc, You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato and Back in Black Shiraz. I’ve tried Back in Black Shiraz and Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc.

My first impression from these wines is how cheap they look. The problem wasn’t at all about the absence of a natural cork – it’s more than normal now for New Worlds wines, and I personally don’t have any problem with screw caps fro wines made to be drunk young. The most disappointing bit here was the label – vulgar, badly designed and even worse printed.

Reminding ourselves of the old (and wrong) advice not to judge by looks, we tried this Sauvignon. It smells of typical, undistinguishable New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, that formed an archetype of these wines in customers’ minds. The palate of Hells Bells is as green and overwhelmingly acidic as the nose – to such an extent that even the lovers of Kiwi Sauvignons wince. This is a very young wine – apart from acidity, you can even sense some effervescence here. We pinned more hopes on Back in Black – after all, Shiraz is a symbol of modern Australian winemaking.

But this wine was an even bigger disappointment. Flat on the nose, reminding at best about a jam jar opened a fortnight ago, flat taste with no hint of fruitiness, harsh tannins, cut finish. I remembered the line from AC/DC’s track “Have a Drink On Me“: “I’m trying to walk a straight line / On sour mash and cheap wine.”

Alas, the band’s wines fit in this category neatly.


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Meet the Author:
Alya Kharchenko
There is not much out there that Alya wouldn’t try out – sometimes only for the sake of it, tackling obstacles of any kind being her drug of choice. But there are other things she is fond of: especially wining and writing – so wine writing came in handy. Trained as a journalist, Alya discovered her love for wine long before she moved from Moscow to London, which became her home five years ago. After having worked for the BBC, she took a leap of faith, and a few sips of wine, and started her first full time job in the wine trade at the UK's oldest wine merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd. Since then she's worked as a sommelier and wine advisor, but writing has never been far from her mind - as well as a bottle of nice wine, suitable for any mood and occasion.