A Day with Dan Aykroyd

img_1116This past Saturday morning, the Windy City Wine Guy was invited to a sommelier brunch at Feast Gold Coast with Chicago Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd.   The event was in conjunction with the release of his Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series Sonoma Wines and Crystal Head Vodka to Chicago.  We met Dan Aykroyd, along with his friends and coworkers.  It seems they are all very close and have been traveling and working together for over thirty years!  This was all taking place before a bottle signing event at Binny's South Loop.  Now on to the wines!

Dan Aykroyd entered into a partnership with Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates to create his Discovery Series Wines.  Mr. Aykroyd has had a love of wine for a long time, even before his Blues Brothers fame.  After meeting Jean-Charles in Canada, they discussed wine and the Boisset family purchase of vineyards in Ontario.  Soon after, they began to collaborate on a wine project out of DeLoach Vineyards in Sonoma, and the Discovery Series was born.  The wines are meant to bring a great $20 value to consumers.  They created two wines:img_11221

2007 Chardonnay.  A more crisp, Burgundian style from California.  Less oak flavor, it was aged in a mixture of new and neutral French oak.  There is good citrus and tropical melon accompanied by a light creaminess.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  A small amount of Merlot and Carmenere were added to the blend to round out this medium-heavy wine.  There are still some grippy tannins along with black fruit and spice.  Ideal with grill meat and rich stews.

After enjoying some wine along with a fluffy vegetable quiche and some good conversation from Chicago local sommeliers, I headed to Binny's along with my wife to get an interview with Mr. Aykroyd.  It was quite a scene as hundreds of people were in line to get an autographed bottle- I think my hand would've cramped up after that!  Here is a video interview conducted by my beautiful and talented wife, Blagica Bottigliero, with some questions we came up with for Mr. Aykroyd:
[blip.tv ?posts_id=1942357&dest=-1]

img_1121I also got a close look at the Crystal Head Vodka.  It is a cool bottle, and I could see it sitting on many a shelf.  To prevent this, the vodka strategists have future plans to release bottles with silver and gold teeth, kind of like pimp skulls!  The vodka is triple distilled through Herkimer diamonds (quartz crystals).  I have yet to taste it, but received good feedback from Binny's staff- they sold over 800 bottles this weekend!  It retails for $47.99.

Dan also makes Discovery Series Ontario wines, but they are unfortunately unavailable here in the states.  If you make your way north of the border, you can grab a bottle of either his Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet-Merlot, or Cabernet-Shiraz, each for about $15.  There is also an award winning Vidal Blanc Icewine for around $65.

It was a great experience to meet a great celebrity like Dan Aykroyd.  He is not only an honorary Chicago's own, but he actually cares about these products he helped create.  He did not merely slap his name on any of these for money, like so many others do.  I want to send out a huge thank you to Mr. Aykroyd, and John Wardzala of Boisset Family Vineyards for working with my wife (big thanks to her for the video!) and I to set all of this up.