What do a Formula One racing car driver, a former porn star, and Vinitaly, the world’s largest wine fair, have in common? The answer is Rocco’s Red.
This supple yet muscular red wine is the result of a partnership between two men for whom performance is important: recently retired Formula One star Jarno Trulli, and Rocco Siffredi, who has built a successful empire that spans hard-core movies made at his studio in Budapest where he now lives.
The two men met when Siffredi liked to visit the pits at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and their shared Abruzzo origins forged a bond that soon turned into a long-lasting friendship. Siffredi has now moved on from acting in his pornographic films to being a producer and director.
Everyone in Italy knows Siffredi: eyes light up at the mention of his name. He is so universally popular that he was even selected to appear in a nationwide potato-chip advertising campaign (where he is seen happily munching chips among a gaggle of nubile, bikini-clad young women). His presence shifts fast food in the same way that George Clooney or Brad Pitt swan through television commercials selling coffee and perfume.
At the recent Vinitaly wine fair held in Verona, the stand where he was presenting Rocco’s Red was swamped with people of all ages and sexes begging to have their picture taken with the slim, fit and tanned Siffredi.
And what about the wine, made from Montepulciano grapes grown in the central/southern region of Abruzzo (towards the Adriatic coast)? It’s good. Which is not surprising, since it is produced by Jarno Trulli at his Castorani winery. Wines from this estate won top honors in 2012 from both of Italy’s most prestigious wine guides. The 2007 Amorino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was awarded three glasses (a mark of excellence) from Gambero Rosso, and the 2007 Jarno Rosso Colline Pescaresi IGT racked up five grape clusters in the Italian Sommeliers’ Association’s Duemilavini year book.
“This wine is sort of my gift to Rocco,” says Trulli. “We wanted to represent Rocco with this wine: he is a leader, so he needed a good strong product. Rocco encouraged us to make a wine that is very close to our own Jarno wine.”
But don’t expect to find Rocco Rosso just anywhere. This first release from the 2010 vintage runs to only around 3,000 bottles, most of which are likely to be served exclusively at Sifreddi's latest venture: Rocco’s World Café. The first Rocco’s World will open in Budapest in June; naturally, it will not be just another wine bar. It will instead combine two of Siffredi’s interests – sex and wine. There you will be able to buy various sex toys as well as a nice bottle of Rocco’s Red.
The decision to open the wine bar has pragmatic roots.
“In my business,” says Siffredi, “the minute you release a film it is immediately pirated. And as the producer you can lose a lot of money. So I decided to create a place where my fans can see things that are not actually in the films."
The venue will include large screens that will allow customers "to get greater insight into the world of hard core porn." But Sifreddi says he plans to start slowly. "At least to begin with, what we show will be relatively soft, such as casting interviews and the backstage preparation for filming.”
Much of this material will be broadcast live from the nearby Siffredi film studio. There are plans to open additional Rocco’s World Cafés in Prague and eventually Milan.
“Wine has a profound link with eroticism, and with the right person it is able to create the perfect atmosphere for a fun evening,” explains the film magnate. "I am particularly pleased that Rocco Rosso comes from my home region, and that I can work with Jarno on this project because he has great passion for what he does – and his wines are top class.”
These are indigenous white varieties that are often used to produce fresh, well-structured, dry whites and zippy sparklers in the Marche, Abruzzo, Umbria and Lazio. From Siffredi's point of view, they also have the added advantage of the grape names being very similar to Italian slang words for a sexual position and a sexual organ respectively.
“All the packaging and promotion will be done with great irony,” says Siffredi. “It will be very tasteful.”
When asked about this future enterprise, Jarno Trulli replies: “This is something we have to discuss...”