Tuesday, July 29, 2008


What's wine labelling all about?
Ideally it should tell you what you are buying (varietal, origin, wine-style etc).
What it has become is a confusing mess of differentiation, marketing messages and general hype that, in the rush to make any particular brand stand out, often has the reverse efect and makes all brands seem the same.
I am in the middle of yet another round of re-branding and creating new labels for a range of very good wines that have yet to become noticed. You've heard the expression 'one man's meat is another man's poison' well wine labels are like that - some people think a concept is great and others think it's crap. The designers like to throw in wild and off-the-wall images and get all pissy when the brand owners think it better to go safe and traditional. Marketers like me can see a bit of both sides of the argument and if it is a cheaper brand then support the off-the-wall idea ( I did create Monkey Bay after all) but if it is an expensive brand I put myself in the shoes of the prospective buyer paying $80 to $100 dollars a bottle in a restaurant and consider what they might like to see (safe, traditional, sophisticated etc).
I remember in the mid 90's Geoff Merril, an Australian winemaker of some note who had made his reputation mnaking wine for big wine companies and went out on his own. He made great wines, Gold Medal-winning and when it came to labelling he obviously became frustrated with all the variables.
He created a label named "Who Cares" that was stuck on the front of the bottle at a sloppy angle as if it was just slapped on. The back label said something along the lines of..."We made this bloody good wine and then the designers were arguing over what label should go on it. We decided who cares about the label ..just enjoy the wine"
The wines under this label were very good. The concept was great but the great unwashed just didn't get it and it was a failure. Merril subsequently adopted a safe, traditional label from then on.

Friday, July 18, 2008


If wine was like clothes, what sort of clothes would match each wine type?
Gwann,gwann gwann - I bet you've been wondering.
Chardonnay would be a great late Summer/Autumn wardrobe, versatile depending on the days temperature from nice shorts and designer t-shirts to quality chino's, open neck shirts and casual jackets. (Note that we are talking men's clothes here).
Sauvignon Blanc would be a lot less formal and with less class - probably jandals and beach shorts for men and revealing bikinis for women (some with a bit of style and elegance, most blowsy showing a lot of bum-crack).
Gewurtztraminer would be elegant casual woolen trousers with rather stiff collared shirts and soft leather jackets.
Syrah would be corduroy trousers, designer work shirts and sleeveless jerkins.
Cabernet Sauvignon Nad Merlot would be tailored slacks through to elegant suits with good cotton shirts and silk ties.
Pinot Noir would run from designer jeans and shirts at one end to moleskin/chino's and widerness jackets at the other.
Pinot Gris (the modern day Muller Thurgau)would be ugly short pants (even liederhosen)worn stupidly short and maybe in leather. Probably of the type favoured by double bass players.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


J had been feeling a little jaded recently. Ever since he had 'come out' he was always being invited to places to speak, perform or generally just to feel people up.
There was always plenty of plonk to drink and on the last couple of evenings he had overindulged and now was nursing a lingering hangover.
The last-minute wedding invitation that came was not very welcome but, especially in his new role, it would be rude not to go. So here he was, sitting quietly in a corner getting his feet massaged and rehydrating himself with water from the fountain, when the prat of a host came rushing up, in a panic, saying that the party was doomed as all the wine had run out. "Bugger", thought J, "just when I was thinking of slipping out to go to bed."
"OK", he said to the host and to the thirsty throng close by. "Bring the biggest wine jars you have over here to the fountain and fill them up".
A murmur went through the party-goers as they pressed forward to get a look at what was going on. J was always good for a bit of entertainment recently so something amazing might happen.
When the jars were filled with water J stood up and looked around at everyone, and,catching their eyes he said "Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around the eyes, look into my eyes" and then snapped his fingers before saying "the jars are full of the most wonderful wine you've ever tasted" (better than the cheap Italian crap that the host put on he thought)
He then snapped his fingers again and the thirsty party animals began drinking the 'wine'which they all found to be very good and intoxicating and promptly forgot about him.
"good" J thought,"now I can slip away and get a good nights sleep. And at least they won't wake up with a hangover either"