Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wine Labels We Like

Last post we looked at wine labels that were light on facts but heavy on fun. Cute, but not very informative. Some wineries use labels to tell a story that can help you decide if what's in the bottle is right for your preferences or occasion.

Take a look at the back label of Zolo 2005 Malbec (click on the image to enlarge and catch the details). The snapshot plants you in the Mendoza terroir of this 100% Argentine Malbec. It's been aged for 14 months in new oaks, a tip-off to this wine's toasty flavors. In case you missed that clue, the description of the wine's aromas spells it out for you. Read on and you can picture the wine's deep color and imagine how your first sip will taste and feel.

Fans of this silky smooth and totally delicious Malbec know these wine words are accurate. The proof is in the tasting and, truth is, you can't know for sure until you pop the cork. Even so, if you enjoy this flavor profile, the label may help land this wine in your shopping basket. We snagged one of the last bottles at LA Wine Company for $15, a total steal for such a big, balanced wine.

Another type of helpful label tells you when and how to drink what's in the bottle. We saw this label on the back of an Austrian red wine at Johannes in Palm Springs.

At a glance, the three-panel graphic tells you the wine's ideal serving temperature of 18º C (64º F), how long to decant it (2 to 4 hours) and perhaps best of all, when this wine should be ready to drink (from 2006 to 2010). No subjective flavor descriptors here, just the facts. Very helpful, indeed.

Other winemakers use the label to express a philosophy, often about winemaking itself. Here, a bottle of Petite Sirah from Trinitas describes the winemaking family's spiritual connection to their wines.

Three wines, three very different labels. Let us know about labels that make you want to drink their words. Or not.

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