Thursday, July 23, 2015

NxNW: Good Wine, Amazing Label

At first glance, it's not a particularly eye-catching label, in fact, it almost looked like the back label had mistakenly been placed on the front. Further inspection showed that the label has more information than I had ever seen on a bottle. I hoped my reaction to the liquid inside lived up to my excitement about the details on the outside.

The bottle came to my family this summer as a gift from my cousin's boyfriend and we meant to open it while he was here but it got lost in the crowded, delightful mayhem that is our Fourth of July. It took me less than a day after returning to Maine to twist the cap and dispense the contents. 
A hint of sweet wood on the nose led to deep red and black fruits on the nose and palate. The black fruit was more dominant but didn't overwhelm the red. In fact, as the wine opened up, warm raspberries emerged on the nose. Tannin was evident, as you would expect with a cabernet sauvignon blend, but the overall impression was a great balance between lushness and firmness. The finish featured lovely notes of violets and made me want more. I hate to trot out the old "iron fist in a velvet glove" description (often used for Volnay) and it's a bit grandiose for this wine (perhaps) but it does give an adequate impression of the style. The tannins gently remind you that the wine wants food. It's kind of like a well-behaved, hungry child on a road trip...persistent but not difficult or whiny. I was happy to have a glass, grateful for the gift and interested in more!
[Note: There are at least two different versions of this wine produced from the same vintage. My bottle blend and information (pictured above) is different than the website image. Both versions might be enjoyable but I think you should be aware, just in case. More on this later.]
The wine is very good, but it's the label that really prompted me to write this. Kudos to King Estate for this innovative packaging idea. The amount of information that is provided is almost overwhelming, especially when you compare it to the dearth of detail on all too many wine bottles. They identify the vineyards, soils, blend, process and aging. Whether or not you think this is great or confusing, one should always appreciate the business that openly displays their methods. Fast food corporations would never share as much, nor would bulk wine producers. However, even high end producers don't offer all this information on the label. I applaud the effort and hope lots of other people do as well.
The information shared is less important when you produce from the same vineyard and same grapes every year but when one vintage produces two very different wines (that could legally have exactly the same label), it is nice to see the details. Too many consumers find out the hard way that the blend and sourcing changed mid-vintage when they don't like a wine as much as they did a few months ago. The percentage of merlot moved from 17 to 10 percent and one had malbec, while the other did not. 
Again, bravo to King Estate! Thank you. When you're proud of something it makes it easy to tell people about the ingredients and the sourcing. This bottle is clearly one to brag about.