Showing posts with label labels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label labels. Show all posts

Monday, March 16, 2020

1849: The Wine's As Good As The Label

The 1849 Wine Company puts as much into their labels as their wine.  I am actually rather turned off by eye-catching labels, my knee-jerk reaction when I am hit with marketing techniques.  I must admit, though, that their label art is striking.

The wine company describes their fascination with the bottle as drawing "inspiration from the contemporary art movement of the 21st century."  The graphics are provided by Los Angeles street artist Saber, whose work is as political as it is attention-getting.

"But," you might ask, "what of the wine inside?"

I'm glad you asked.  The winery boasts that they pride themselves on "creating California wines of the highest quality and expression," while championing the artistic endeavor.  I found, after tearing my eyes away from the label and sampling the juice, that they have met their goal.

Declaration, their 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, was blended in St. Helena from "Napa Valley vineyards," although the company does not publish much information about the wine.

Declaration was aged in barrels made from French, Hungarian and American oak, 30% of which was new while 70% was previously used.  Alcohol checks in at a lofty 15% abv and the retail price is up there as well, at $80.

This dark wine has a gorgeous nose - blackberry, cherry, lavender, graphite, vanilla and sweet oak spices laid out with great care.  The palate is a delightful playground of dark berries and that Napa dirt, which doesn't seem all that dirty, really.  It still drinks fairly fruity and young, but has plenty of aging potential for the coming years.  After it sits awhile, you'll get a nice waft of smoke as you inhale on the sip.

1849 also makes a Sonoma County red blend.  The 2017 Triumph also has artwork by Saber and also hits 15% abv.  This one is a little easier on the wallet at $45.  It is a Bordeaux-style blend, presumably of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot.  There may be some Malbec and Cab Franc in there, but I couldn't say for sure.  The winery isn't very good at putting together a tech sheet.

Triumph's nose has some mild funk on it, with touches of campfire and earth.  The palate is youthful and fruity with a firm set of tannins and a fresh acidity.  The flavor profile does open up after a few minutes in the glass, revealing notes of beef jerky, black olives and forest floor.  It's an interesting wine which becomes more complex as it gets air.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011


Where Does This Burgundy Come From?

A Chicago writer, Michael Austin, has endeavoured to make wine designations a little easier to understand.  In the Chicago Sun-Times, he breaks it down this way: European wines are named for the places where they originate, while elsewhere the wine is usually named for the grape from which it's made.

For example, the French wine called Bordeaux is wine made in a place called Bordeaux.  It can be red, white, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc, but it's all Bordeaux.  It's the same in Burgundy.  That's a place in France, and that's where Burgundy comes from, not California, as Gallo, Rossi and other producers have insisted with their so-called "California Burgundy" wines.

Champagne is also a specific place in France.  Sparkling wine from California is not Champagne, since it's not made there.  Even bubblies from other parts of France are called by a different name, cremant.  This is probably the most abused wine designation, as many American producers insist on calling their sparkling wines "Champagne."  The region of Champagne takes steps to try and educate the public on the distinction, in an effort to preserve their brand.

In Italy, a Barolo is made from Nebbiolo grapes, but it's made in the town of Barolo.  Chianti comes from Chianti.  It would be named after the Sangiovese grape elsewhere.  Spanish Rioja wine is made from Tempranillo and Garnacha, mainly.  Rioja, though, is the specific place where the wine is made.

Austin goes on to describe several other designations and what they mean.  The article is a good starting point for anyone just getting into the wine world who feels a bit confused by labels on European wines.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011


Wine News

Ask most winemakers, and they'll probably tell you there are already plenty of regulations concerning how things can be worded on wine labels.  Some in the wine industry are now telling the federal government just that, as the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has begun to make noise about tightening restrictions on the words that appear on wine labels.

An article from the Los Angeles Times, by Michael Doyle, says many terms that are used on wine labels are not specifically defined, so they actually have no meaning in a legal sense.

The article points out that "estate bottled" is a strictly defined term and wineries must adhere to guidelines in order to use it on the label.  "Estate" by itself is not defined, however, so there are no regulations at all on how that word may be used.

Other terms which have no legal definition - "old vine," "select harvest." "barrel select" and proprietor's blend," for instance - are now being studied for the way they are used in describing wine.

The article states that regulators began asking for input from consumers and the wine industry in 2010 on whether more control should be exerted.  California's Wine Institute has already chimed in that current labeling restrictions are sufficient.  So has the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

The article cites one Oregon winery which might not be opposed to tougher label regulations.  The owners of Stone Hollow Vineyard are quoted that they use the term "estate bottled" on their wine labels and they don't appreciate that other wineries could use the term "estate" as loosely as they wish.

According to the article, the Feds have not said when the next step on a new set of regulations might come.

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