April 2, 2013

B is for Bordeaux, or do you prefer Bored Doe? More importantly which of these two wines would you buy? Particularly as the latter is a Cabernet Sauvignon red blend with a very non-plussed female deer and a French chateau on the label.

Such a great play on words is typical of wines produced by Charles Back in South Africa, one of his ranges has equally frivolous names that offer a passing resemblance to certain French wine appellations; Goats do Roam being the probably the most famous take on Cotes-du-Rhone. Charles produces serious wines and whilst they were originally produced at the same time as the “Critter Wines” craze this was not really his intention. (The term is given to wines displaying animals on their labels). One of my favourite wine writers, Fiona Beckett, warned in the Guardian last month she “generally finds the cuteness of the image in inverse proportion to the drinkability of the wine”. The suggestion being that serious winemakers don’t generally go down this route perhaps?

On a personal note, I moved to Belgium in 1999 and I found myself trying to choose a bottle of much needed wine from a shelf full of mostly French labels that meant nothing to me and no doubt selected some wines solely on the design of the label. I do remember drinking some pretty ropey examples! For me that was the start of a long and enjoyable journey into discovering what lies behind the label, but if you haven’t the time or the inclination to seriously study all aspects of wine then I completely sympathise, a cute animal on the label might just work for you.

The industry is well aware that labels sell wine. I do tend to deter people from buying Critter Wines but I understand they may make wine more accessible and less intimidating. If a frivolous and amusing label takes away the snobbishness that is deemed to prevalent in the industry then hooray, we can work on that as a starting point!

However if you stay with me until the “Y” day I will share with you some interesting facts about Yellow Tail wine.

Follow me in my blog challenge this month and I hope you will pick up a few more pointers in your pursuit of your own suitable wine. I will leave you with an interesting question – have you ever loved a label and hated the wine? Or vice versa?



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