Monday, November 12, 2007

Nashville Wine Press Interviews Big Kenny of Big and Rich

Big Kenny is living large. As one half of the huge country duo Big & Rich, Big Kenny is playing big arenas, writing big hits, wearing big hats, and sharing big ideas while celebrating the gift of life. But to interview him is kind of like herding cats—you just go with the flow ‘cause he knows how to bring it back home.

Jimmy Collins: When it comes to wine, are you an appreciator and student or simply a drinker of wine?

Big Kenny: I’m slowly traveling from a drinker who really enjoys it…it’s slowed me down from my Crown Royal habit. I started hanging around some friends who started teaching me about wine. On our radio tour in 2004, we were with the promotions staff at a finer restaurant and we had their credit card to use. Well, John and I thought since we had someone else’s credit card to use that, by gosh, we should take a chance to find out what really good wine is all about. I remember asking the sommelier, “What do you recommend on this list?” She said, “By all means I would have the Haut-Brion.” I think it was a 1988 or ‘89. It was off the charts. We had been drinking some good wine by then, though. When John and I signed our record deal we went over to the management office and they opened a 1988 Silver Oak. So we were slowly being introduced to some of the finer stuff. Once we were doing OK and I could pay off over $150,000 in credit card debt and buy a home with a cellar, a childhood friend started sending me wine. I got a pretty doggone good collection. I don’t know what half of the stuff is, but all I know is that it is good!

Jimmy Collins: As a consumer/collector, what style or region do you lean towards?

Big Kenny: I think the greatest thing that the French have to offer us—other than starting to step into international diplomacy, which I really appreciate—is their wine. I am totally into French wine and I think we should drink all of it. Until you’ve tasted a 1989 Chateau Lafite Rothschild from the Pauillac region, you just haven’t experienced what wine is all about. Although with an American wine, if I had my choice, I love the Opus One, but you have to hit the right years with those. I have a case or two of the 2001 in my cellar. I think it’s fantastic but that was a combination of an American vintner, Robert Mondavi, and a French vintner, Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The two came together and did something good. It’s like when Big & Rich formed—worlds collided and two forms of music were smashed together and that’s what made it successful. I also like Meritages, especially the Clos du Bois Marlstone. A friend gives me French wine and the Ch√Ęteauneuf du Pape I have fallen in love with. I also have a case of different Pinots down here to see what I like. I like some Australian wines, South American wines, and I love some Oregon wines. We are making some great wines in this country, too, don’t get me wrong—Cakebread, Caymus, Insignia—there is phenomenal stuff here.

Read the entire, fun interview in the Nashville Wine Press.

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