Finally! Here's the round-up for Wine Blogging Wednesday 16, the monthly virtual tasting group. I asked participants to defy conventional wisdom and buy bottles with pretty labels.
Is anything that glitters actually gold? Well, sometimes. There were hits and misses. But no pretty label fooled the drinker into liking an uninteresting wine. A pig in silk is still a pig. Note to wine makers: A pretty label might make one sale, but a mediocre wine removes repeat business. Still, I enjoyed seeing all the lovely labels and reading about their wines.
Never one to follow the norm, I've organized the participants into four groups: Fresh Faces, Regulars, Podcasters, and Former Hosts. This seemed like a clever idea until I realized I needed to research each participant's former entries. Let me know if you're in the wrong group. Of course please tell me if I've forgotten to include you at all, or if I've made any other mistakes. I provided so many ways to tell me about an entry that it turned into a bit of a scavenger hunt to find everyone.
And remember to check out the Flickr group to see the pool of labels. Also, if you're in the Bay Area, Amy kindly alerted me to a wine label exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design.
Okay. Enough business. Onto the wine.
Give a warm welcome to these folks as they take their first dip into Wine Blogging Wednesday. We had a lot of first-timers with plenty of enthusiasm, and I look forward to more entries from them all.
I think Mary Beth has read this blog longer than anyone outside my family. Actually, I think she's read it longer than most people in my family. So I was thrilled when she said she'd participate in Wine Blogging Wednesday. I should finish some of my quilts in appreciation. She hit the ground running with three semi-sweet wines: the Wagner Alta B, a Pindar, and a pomegranate wine, all with lovely labels.
Tana (like Mary Beth) wished me a happy birthday with her Wine Blogging Wednesday entry. She picked the elegant rose that decorates the 2000 DeRose Cabernet Sauvignon. Not surprisingly, given her frequent visits to area farms, she was drawn to the note that the wine is dry farmed. Most California producers extol the virtues of irrigation, and it's always nice to see someone let grapes grow within natural constraints.
running with tweezers
I think running with tweezers is my current favorite blog name. Tami excitedly contributed a bottle of The Guilty and took a nice photo of the enigmatic label. Maybe we should combine Tami's bottle with Catherine's Presumed Innocent (see below). We'd need to fit in the Cardinal Zin that showed up in a couple of posts.
The Ink-Stained Wretch
And if you're guilty, you end up in jail. I too have always been struck by the label on "The Prisoner" from Orin Swift. I've always thought it forlorn. Is it worth releasing the wine?
Finger Lakes Weekend Wino
New wine blogger Finger Lakes Weekend Wino makes his/her debut with the Bully Hill Vineyards Ravat 51. The winery's owner drew the artwork, which features the surreal image of red flowers growing out of a pineapple. I like the drawing, and I can see why it caught our blogger's eye.
Come to the Table
Four eyes total on Paige and Eric. Four eyes total on the bottle of the four emus 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot from Western Australia. A perfect fit, don't you think? I know I was supposed to be paying attention to the bright blue label, but my eyes kept wandering over to the homemade pizza they served.
The Wine Offensive
I jealously read Maggie's description of the A. Margaine Brut Rosé Champagne. It's a Terry Theise import, which always bodes well. Terry seeks out small, passionate Champagne producers. Maggie eloquently describes the wine's aroma as "a million blossoms in liquid form."
The Wine Cask Blog
When I saw that The Wine Cask Blog had chosen a bottle of Royal Bitch 2003 Reserve Merlot, I worried that this post wouldn't make it through all those "safe browsing" filters. Hopefully the description of the label clears it all up.
s'kat and the food
s'kat's description of her original choice, the 2003 Eredi Lodali Dolcetto d'Alba, was one of the most evocative I read. A stunning label, not a great wine. Fortunately, her post has tasting notes for two other wines.
Je Mange la Ville
Though the big red J and the black-and-gold label on the 2004 Jezebel Pinot Noir is striking, I was more intrigued by Michelle's "label wall" and the zillions of labels she's put up as decoration. That's an idea worth imitating!
Mark Fisher, wine blogger and wine columnist for the Dayton Daily News, found the 2004 Lulu B. Vin de Pays d'Oc Syrah. The eponymous Lulu crafted the wine just for him. It says so right on the label, so it must be true.
Thank goodness Petra wrote in English about the 2002 Altos de Tamaron, Tinto from Spain's Ribera del Duero. Other posts of hers are in German, and I would've needed Melissa to translate. Petra chose a Tempranillo with a baby blue label under a lovely pastel of the Spanish countryside.
Glorious Food and Wine
Andreea spotted the WBW reminder at the last minute, but found some pretty labels (and unusual choices) in her wine rack. A black and gold star bedecks our first Romanian entry, the 1999 Prince Mircea Merlot Granriserva from the Vanju Mare appellation. Andreea also reviewed the 2000 Painel Colheita, from Portugal's lesser-known Dao region.
Cooking with The Headhunter
Sarah exhibited a bit of blood lust with two of her choices, the 2004 Merlot Rosé from Romania's Vampire Vineyards and the 2003 Cardinal Zin from Bonny Doon. But she also showed her more whimsical side as she giggled over the 2004 3 Blind Moose Chardonnay. One was just okay, one was quite good, and one was a home run.
The curiously named Monkey Gland appreciates the value of a simple, pleasant table wine, particularly when it's 3 quid and comes in a bottle with a playing-card-like label. The "Le Prince Rouge" table wine sounds like a great deal, simple but not poorly made.
Andrew was drawn to the clever label on the 2003 Michael David Seven Deadly Zins from Lodi. Zinfandel producers seem particularly fond of pun-filled names, but are the fifth-generation farmers at Michael David putting a good wine behind that label?
The 2002 Celler del Roure Maduresa got two write-ups, even though it was only present at one tasting. Janelle provides her perspective on her site, Ryan and Gabriella on theirs (see below). Either way, it's one of my favorite labels in the set, and it's interesting to compare their tasting notes.
I spotted the trackback to Dave's attractive site late in the game, but I'm glad I did! The label on the 2002 Cascina Catelet Goj is very pretty, with large grapes, a black background, and the name in elegant type. Very nice, especially with the
triceratops styrachasaurus in the picture.
These folks know the routine. They've been in Wine Blogging Wednesday at least once before, and are old pros. Probably half of them are signed up as future hosts. If not, they should be!
Fork & Bottle
Our good friends Jack and Joanne were drawn to the encyclopedic labels on two Paolo Bea bottles, the 2000 Montefalco Sagrantino Secco Pagliaro and the 2000 Santa Chiara. They point out that the extensive text tells you how passionate the wine maker is about his product, which is always a good thing.
Dr. Vino's wine blog
Tyler counted to three and played rock paper scissors with the 2004 Roshambo Merlot, a popular winery among Bay Area twentysomethings. The stylish black and red label can be yours for just $8. But do you want it? Check his site and find out.
this heaven gives me migraine
Kieca took a break from house-buying minutiae to tells us about the 2004 Bonny Doon Grignolino d'Asti. The label sports an angry-looking piece of Gary Taxali artwork, but I can see why Kieca's a fan.
the delicious life
This month's theme was right up Sarah's alley. As a marketing maven, she was delighted to put her business school training to work when describing the label on the 2004 Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. But she's as susceptible to marketing mischief as everyone else: "I'm a marketer, but I'm also my own victim." Find out what she thought of the wine behind the monkey.
The label on the 2003 Van Duzer Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley will appeal to anyone who loves Art Nouveau artwork. The brilliant green background and the knowing look of the woman suggest absinthe instead of wine.
I was glad to see the 2000 Il Cuore Rosso Classico from Mendocino on Chas's blog. I like their label artwork and the wines inside. I haven't tasted the Rosso Classico, which seems to include every red grape grown in that county, so now I have a better idea about it. Chas's post also points you to some other eye-catching labels.
Okay, I'll admit it. I love the kitschy look of the claw marks on the bottle of 2003 Howling Wolves Shiraz that Ed tasted along with the 2004 Little Penguin Shiraz. He gave these wines a good shot (microwaving? really?), but after the first bottle Jackie was trying to excuse herself from the tasting.
Ryan and Gabriella liked the stones on the label of the 200 Clos del Codols Montsant from Spain and the stylish label of the 2002 Celler del Roure Maduresa (which they tasted with Janelle). The abstract black grapes on a plain white label look like they're supposed to create some sort of optical illusion
The proud rooster on the 2004 Rex Goliath Chardonnay caught Alyce's eye, but I was more intrigued by the casual meal she assembled to go with it.
Serge the Concierge
I feel like I should salute as I look at the label of the 2003 Lancieri di Risorgimentio from Italy's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Serge's bottle features heraldic crests and flags that honor the "Lancieri who fought for the creation of the Italian republic in 1848."
Cookin' in the 'Cuse
Jennifer has "always viewed wine labels as an underappreciated graphic arts form," and she plucked the 2003 The Lucky Country Barossa Valley Shiraz. I love the way she framed the "haunting and lovely" label with pretty books.
Catherine susses out the mystery of the enigmatic woman on the label of the 2002 Eno "Presumed Innocent" Pinot Noir. Follow her investigation of the label and the wine to learn what secrets the bottle holds.
Stack of Toast
Peter suggests an interesting aspect of wine label appreciation. If a label looks similar to one on a bottle you've enjoyed before, does it influence your decision to buy the new bottle? Probably. The gold lettering on the 2002 Canaletto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and the 2005 Hardy's Stamp Riesling-Gewurztraminer reminded him of the Jackson Triggs bottles he's enjoyed. But did the wines stand up? One did, one didn't. But which?
The Cork and Demon
Taj, who describes herself as a "smart-mouthed Texas girl," called Bonny Doon to help decipher the little figures dancing across the label on the 2002 Bonny Doon Madiran 'cuvée speciale'. Randall Grahm let juice from tannat grapes sit on the skins of petit manseng grapes to give it a little something extra. Available even to folks outside Grahm's quirky DEWN club, it sounds like it's worth checking out.
John points out that while buying based on artwork is a dodgy proposition, sometimes it leads you to something new and exciting. Take the Durutti Column album he bought that made him an lifelong fan. Or the 2000 Trevor Jones Dry Farmed Barossa Valley Shiraz whose simple label drew him in.
The Caveman's Wine Blog
Caveman Bill emerged into the light just long enough to snap a shot of the 2000 Côtes de Duras "Les Apprentis" from Domaine Mouthes le Bihan. His elegant decanter forms the backdrop for the label in a photo that evokes a farmhouse table at twilight.
A few BART stops down in Pleasanton, Jathan spotted the retro label on the 2004 Parducci Vineyards Chardonnay
from Mendocino. I'm not a big California Chardonnay fan, but it sounds like Jathan has found an interesting one.
Sound and Fury
Mithrandir chose the 2003 Daedalus Pinot Noir, just one example of many of the fine labels being used by Oregon wineries. I like the shot over the Labyrinth.
You know, wine blogging used to be cutting-edge. But now the cool kids are podcasting, recording shows in which they describe the wine. The emotion and tone of voice adds a new dimension to tasting notes. Plug in your headphones and listen to these podcasters tell you about their pretty bottles.
You can't help but notice Marilyn Monroe on a bottle, as the producers of Tim's selection, the 2005 Norma Jeane Merlot, are well aware. The picture of Marilyn Monroe in a bikini is safe for work, unlike the Marilyn Merlot from the same producer, which features her famous nude for Playboy. For those too shy to pluck the scantily clad icon from the shelf, Tim also reviewed the 2002 Lavradores de Feitoria "Tres Bagos" from Portugal, which comes wrapped in a lovely minimalist label.
The Cellar Rat
Artwork by Margrit Biever Mondavi (Robert's wife) decorates the 2003 Arnot-Roberts Hudson Vineyards Syrah. Alan went above and beyond the call of wine blogging duty and interviewed the wine makers. Tune in to find out what he thought of it.
A Guy, A Girl, and a Bottle
Joe and Lori took a popular route by opting for some Bonny Doon bottles, the Cardinal Zin with its notorious Ralph Steadman drawing, and the more unusual Il Circo. I've seen the Il Circo bottle before, and it's easy to see why Lori was drawn to it.
These folks have subjected you to their whims, guiding you to newand hopefully goodwines. And of course Lenn isn't just a former host but the founder of the whole Wine Blogging Wednesday phenomenon. What did they choose as players rather than plotters?
Cincinnati Wine Warehouse
Jens picked up the 2003 le jaja de jeu at the local supermarket. I like the white script on a black background, but I laughed when I read this line: "The back label suggested that it be served well-chilled which should have been a clue as to what I was about to taste."
Seattle Bon Vivant
Viv gives a taste of living well with the 2004
Domaine de la Sansonnière Rosé d'Un Jour, which sports "a very gutsy and different label, perhaps even the most outspoken, in your face wine label I've ever encountered." What's so intriguing about it? You'll have to read it to find out. It's not what you expect!
Someone! Go rescue Jeanne! An impostor at her blog wrote about the HRM Rex Goliath Pinot Noir. Carte blanche to choose any wine she wants, and she doesn't pick a South African bottle? I'm suspicious.
But I'm even more suspicious of Lenn's write-up. It's not a Long Island wine. It's not even a New York wine! Thanks goodness Mary Beth picked a Long Island wine so we'd have one in the set. I guess that's what happens when Nena picks out the bottle. For this round, she chose the 2003 Lucky Country Barossa Valley Shiraz. It's similar to Jennifer's bottle, but you'll have to click through to their posts to find out how.
Just in time for the holidays, Beau found a wine with Santa written in red on the label. A Christmas wine? Not exactly. But read his description of the 2001 Santa Sofia Recioto della Valpolicella to see if you should put it under the tree.
Andrew was struggling with server issues, so it took me a while to get some good permalinks, but he thankfully seems to be up and running again. He wrote about the 2004 Matahiwi Pinot Noir, which he artfully shot in repose. Also be sure to read his description of the 2001 Haras Character Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. He thought about reviewing it for WBW, but chose the Pinot Noir instead.
Alder put on his design consultant hat to discuss the label on the 2004 Magnet Pinot Noir. I don't think anyone else provided such an in-depth analysis of the label artwork. I'm just sad that the winery no longer uses the unusual Prelude bottle for the Pinot Noir. Ah, well. At least the label's still unorthodox.
Obsession with Food
I reviewed two wines, the 2003 Cep Syrah and the Five Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon.