amarchinthevines

Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

Get Back

6 Comments

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En français

Whilst having a rather disappointing lunch in Marseillan the other day I ordered a 50cl of Faugères rosé from Sylva Plana and it was quite nice, pale pink, fresh with a little red fruit on the finish. I went to check the back label to see if my guess of Cinsault was correct and… nothing. There was no back label, nothing to inform me about the wine at all. I found this frustrating, Sylva Plana are normally very modern in their approach, have a good restaurant to promote their wines, they’re organic etc. However, they are far from alone. Lots of producers don’t add back labels.

I think this is a wasted opportunity. Most wine drinkers these days have some interest in the wine they are drinking and by supplying information the domaine (I speak generally now) is surely creating a connection to their customer which might be followed up with further sales.

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Jonathan and Rachel Hesford at Domaine Treloar provide information in French and English about the grapes in the wine, information about vines and vinification as well as advice on food pairing and when the wine will be at its best. This latter is followed up on their website where more detailed information is available on each wine. I think this is very good practice, the consumer can find out much more about the wine they drink if they choose.

The label from California producer Ridge on the left gives a lot of detail about vinification and what is actually in the wine. Rather surprised at the amount of added water I must say. Perhaps even more informative is this smart back label from Burgundy (right).

Even little things can help to explain the wine and advise the potential buyer about the wine in the bottle. Alsace wines are often criticised and misunderstood because they can range from dry to sweet from producer to producer even when the label says pretty much the same thing. I like the way this producer shows a scale to describe the level of dry – sweet.

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Some producers like to show a humorous side to their work and don’t take themselves too seriously. At least you get to know the grape variety at the bottom.

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And finally, I do like this back label from a producer keen to emphasise their organic, even natural, credentials. Note also the QR code so that the buyer can link to the website to get more information. Extra points from me there.

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So, come on producers. Don’t leave us in the dark about your wines. We want to know about them, to find out the story which makes a wine special and more personal. At least give us the grape varieties.

Happily, for once I was right. The rosé was Cinsault dominated but please don’t leave us in the dark. And if you want something to really inspire you have a look at this, which is something I have already stared at for ages and makes me want to try the wine.

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Author: amarch34

I'm a recently retired (early!) teacher from County Durham in North east England. I am going to be spending most of the next year in the Languedoc leaarning about wines, vineyards and the people who care for both.

6 thoughts on “Get Back

  1. That Vinos Ambiz label is so good, as is the wine, an added bonus!

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  2. I do like these labels where they make an effort and present information and enjoyment

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  3. I’m a big fan of informative back labels, and I like the examples you’ve published here. One thing that often irritates me here in the US is when I turn a bottle around to look for some info, and instead see only the standard generic label of the importer with info about the importer’s history and philosophy, but no info about the wine. Another thing that annoys me, which I first started to notice a few years ago when I was at a “natural” wine bar, is when there is absolutely no info on a wine with the appellation Vin de France. At least with your wine in Marseillan, it was a Faugeres, so you at least had some modicum of info about what might be in it. But with a Vin de France, unless I recognize the name of the village where the winery is located, I know nothing about it. One thing that surprised me about one of your labels: Ridge. Given their well-deserved reputation, why are they adding water? Is it to cut down the alcohol level?

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  4. No idea about the latter point, it seemed odd to me. I will endeavour to find out if I can.
    Many VdF do have some information about the wines here in France, maybe it’s a US thing? The front label should als say whereabouts the wine was produced, there is usually a zip code after the producers name, eg here in the Hérault it would start with 34.
    It does seem odd that producers, merchants or whoever don’t take the trouble to give information at very little cost.

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  5. Bob, after asking around I am told that one possible explanation is that if you pick very ripe grapes they will give you very high alcohol levels. So, by adding water to the tank, you can dilute those levels to permitted alcohol norms. I am not saying that is the case here but it is apparently fairly common in California.

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    • Thanks for looking into it. A couple of years ago I was talking to a wine shop owner I know about alcohol levels in particular California wines; it might have been Pinot Noir from the Central Coast. When I mentioned that I had recently seen one such wine with a label listing a very modest alcohol level, he said: “They know how to use a hose.” So I guess he was right.

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