Millionaire pop star Mick Hucknall is set to buy vineyard land on Sicily to produce 'the best red wine in the world.'
The flame-haired frontman of multi-million-selling band Simply Red, who is a friend of Tony Blair’s and owns a restaurant chain with Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera he would like to contribute to the growth of Sicily.
He already owns land on Mount Etna and now intends to buy a 100-ha estate with its own 17th century winery in Sant’Alfio. Hucknall (pictured) told the newspaper he has drafted in a winemaker from Verona called Carlo Nerozzi, and an enologist, Federico Giotto. He is also backed by Sicily’s regional vicepresident Giuseppe Castiglione.
When asked why he was such a wine aficionado, Hucknall pointed out he comes from Manchester, ‘where they drink only beer. But when I came to Italy for the first time I got to know Italian wine and food. It was love at first sight.’
The singer – who has been visiting the island for years with his Sicilian friend Marco Lombardo – added, ‘Recently I decided that I would like to do something to contribute to the growth of this wonderful island.’
Hucknall joins the Duchess of York, Sting and British prime minister Blair and his family as a confirmed Italophile.
‘I don’t know why, but I feel part Italian,’ he said. ‘I even learnt the language without going to classes.’
It’s not clear when Hucknall’s first wine will be released, but there is no doubt he’s making a sound investment. Sicilian producers like Donnafugata and Planeta are making headlines, two of the country’s biggest wineries, Mezzacorona and Santa Margherita, have just bought land there, and the island is generally being tipped as the next Italian success story.
Written by Adam Lechmere, and Michele Shah in Italy17 April 2002