Arts & Entertainment

Dowd On Drinks: New Wine From an Old Bombshell

Joan Lucille Olander earned her first public attention at age 15 when she was named Miss Palm Springs, Calif.

She got her most recent at the Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club in Santa Rosa, Calif., the other day when she launched her first, limited edition of collectible "Mamietage" wines.
The younger generation(s) may not recognize Ms. Olander, but those of a certain age certainly will if you say the name Mamie Van Doren. She was one of the Hollywood "blonde bombshells" of the 1950 and '60s along with the late Marilyn Monroe and the late Jayne Mansfield, although definitely the least of the group.
Now, at age 77 and the sole survivor of the trio, she's getting into the celebrity wine game with the likes of other show biz denizens such as Fess Parker, Francis Ford Coppola, Lorraine Bracco and Olivia Newton-John.
The wine labels on 1.5 liter bottles feature three images of Mamie. Two of the images are of Mamie today, and the third image is of Mamie at age 21. Each features a nude pose of Mamie covered by a clear peel-off label with strategically-placed stars. Peel the label away, and … well, there's Mamie.
The wine, a Bordeaux blend from Sonoma County's Armida Winery, is a limited production of 2,000 bottles of each image, individually numbered. The blend utilizes Cabernet sauvignon, petite verdot, syrah and malbec.
Van Doren, who has been married five times, was known for her sexual image rather than her acting chops during her Hollywood days. One of the memorable quotes attributed to her was this widely published comment: "I don't wear panties anymore. This startles the Hollywood wolves so much they don't know what to pull at, so they leave me alone."
She dated Howard Hughes and a string of actors and had roles of varying size in such motion pictures as "His Kind of Woman" (1951), "Yankee Pasha" (1954), "Untamed Youth" (1957), "Sex Kittens Go to College" and "Vice Raid" (1960) and "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" (1966), winding down to just four bit-part film appearances in the past 40 years, including 2002's "Slackers."
On another front, American Riesling quality, led by wineries in New York's Finger Lakes region, has been rising exponentially in recent years. Nevertheless, German winemakers in the Moselle River region report exports of their famous Rieslings rose 21 percent in the year ending in July, fueled by rising demand from U.S. consumers.
About 43 percent of the region's wine output was sold outside Germany, with more than half going to the U.S. where sales rose 29 percent in the year through July. The bulk of the remaining exports go to Norway and the Netherlands.
"Americans prefer more and more expensive, high-quality Riesling," said Adolf Schmitt, Moselle Wine Growers Association president, at a press conference last week in Mertesdorf, Germany.
The Moselle region, in the southwestern part of the country, is one of 19 German wine regions.
Schmitt said the quality of its 2007 vintage will be "superb." The grapes ripened about 130 days instead of the average 100 days due to favorable weather conditions in the Moselle area that differed from widespread negative weather in many parts of Europe.
New York's wine industry keeps expanding — now topping the 240 mark, and no other region seems to be doing it any faster than Niagara County, home of the Niagara Wine Trail.
Schulze Vineyards and Winery just opened, Leonard Oakes Estate is scheduled to open in November, and Arrowhead Springs Vineyards is targeted for February.
The Niagara Wine Trail started in Cambria, N.Y., as a two-winery organization in
2002 and already has grown to include 10. State lawmakers have approved splitting the trail into east and west branches.
      (William M. Dowd covers adult beverages at

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