Some Labels Just can’t be Ignored!: do they only work when the wine = fabulous?

Over the years I’ve been fascinated by wine labels. How good they can be. How awful many are. Funny ones. Distasteful labels. Traditional. Modern. Jokey. Ethnic. …. the list goes on and on and on …

What are labels for ? Are they there to attract attention, are they meant to be informative or are they simply a way to get legalities out of the way? I suppose its all of these and maybe even more besides. One thing I am absolutely convinced of is that labels on wine bottles can evince emotion.

Take a wine that wants to tell us something like, ‘I’m Chablis and I’m from France‘: the ONLY way to let a customer know this is to spell it out. Literally! CHABLIS AC.

Add a design that includes a chunk of pitted limestone rock to the Chablis label and you begin to tell a story, attract attention and, hopefully, separate your wine from the crowd.

Take this brilliant Selbach Incline label from the Mosel in Germany. Its an O’Briens Wines import. The wine is a Riesling from the Mosel in Germany. The vines are grown on steep slate slopes. There is an optimal spot on these slopes to ripen the grapes. Selbach is showing all of this on the label AND in the name. Super wine. Simplicity itself on the label. Brilliant.

The good folk at Curious Wines recently imported a label that is equally simple. It’s so simple it can probably be described as a ‘Statement Label‘! Have a look ….

Confidence! What if the wine is brilliant but you don’t like it? I suppose the statement continues to be true! IF the wine is genuinely excellent … Now, I haven’t tasted this wine but I do know the Verdil grape that its made from in the Valencia region of Spain. I also trust Curious Wines (experiential!!) who tell us that, ‘this is a really good wine!‘. Simple. (for the more curious the description for this (organic) wine is fabulous, ‘Composed of 70% of the rare Verdil grape with 10% each of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier, this is a fine, dry white with punchy, zesty citrus, nettle, pear and passion fruit flavours. Refreshing, complex and long on the finish, we actually think the label statement oversimplifies this terrific organic white‘.

Soft expletives have been used on many labels in the past. A couple of my all time favourites are the The Dog’s Bollocks and the Fat bastard Chardonnay. The second of these implies a rich and full wine while the former is a peculiarly British term to imply excellence. I have never been able to see the Bollocks label travelling well – we seldom even use this as an expression in Ireland. What about customers elsewhere??

Its a bit like the old Bull’s Blood label from Hungary. It used to be widely available. When it was there were confused customers who thought the wine had been infused with ….!

I like the funny labels. A play on old fashioned place names has often been successful. Fairview in South Africa used ‘Goats do Roam‘ to show allegiance to Cotes du Rhone styling. It actually then morphed into a further wine titled the GoatFather!!

You have to like the Chat en Oeuf. Its such a super play on Chateauneuf

I could keep this up all day. I won’t! Lets finish with one of the great pun labels. I’ll leave it to yourselves to decipher it. Do these labels work? Sometimes. Sometimes not.