Apera, topaque, vintage, lickoffable – Aussie fortifieds grasp new names

Earlier this year on this blog, we put our heads together to try to come up with a name for port style wine, made in America. Well, thanks to a new bilateral accord with the EU, Australian winemakers found themselves in a similar situation of needing to find a new name. And here’s what they came up with: nothing. That’s right, they will scrap use of the word “port” and describe their fortified, port-style wines as either “vintage” or “tawny,” depending whether it is from one vintage or a blend of several and whether it is aged in bottle or in barrel.

However, other fortified wines whose names conflicted with European place names have gotten new names. Heretofore, when ordering a glass of sherry style wine made Down Under, the proper term to use is Apera, which is a gentle riff on aperitif. And the wines formerly known as Tokay, a name that clashed with the sweet wine from Hungary, will now be known as Topaque. Eegad, that sounds like something from a medicine chest, not a liquor cabinet.

But if the Australian group for renaming fortified wines had listened to one suggestion they might have come up with something zippier. At a recent tasting, a non-Australian member of our group described these unctuous sweet wines as “lickoffable,” as in you want to drizzle them on your partner’s body and lick it off. Yikes! What a way to boost…sales!

jamesgodfreyJames Godfrey (pictured right), winemaker for thirty years at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley, told me that he saw the new names as an opportunity. The term sherry has “a lot of baggage,” he said, elaborating that the new name will give them an opportunity to energize their new category of aperas, including dry, medium dry and medium sweet (which replace Fino, Amontillados and Oloroso), with younger consumers.

To find the names, a trade group generated about 200 names that could still be trademarked and then ran them by some producers, journalists, sommeliers and shop owners to come up with a list of 20 finalists. Then they surveyed 600 consumers to come up with the winners, apera, topaque, vintage and tawny. (If you want to see more on their strategy for developing the “New Era” names, check out their incredibly detailed report here as pdf.)

What do you think about the new names? A clean break or sour grapes? And what of “lickoffable”?

And stay tuned for part two of this exciting story to see what I call it when I actually taste a bottle of Topaque!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

6 Responses to “Apera, topaque, vintage, lickoffable – Aussie fortifieds grasp new names”

  1. I don’t mind the renaming as much, but then I’m newer to the field than others. I could understand if there’s a lot of sentiment and emotional charge regarding the name “port.” For me, I welcome the change. I’m with Mr. Godfrey when I say it’s a chance to start with a clean slate and make it mean something on your own.

  2. Lickoffable? Who on earth would say such a thing? And was Kerri Thompson really scared?

  3. Ha, yes, it was Dublin-based Dermot Nolan, Master of Wine who said it! Not sure you were willing to go on the record for such raunch, Dermot, so good that you stopped by to clear things up!

    I should add that Dermot is also the Most Humorous Master of Wine I’ve met so perhaps his title should be MHMW.

  4. James is right about the ‘baggage’ of sherry…it must be the most misunderstood wine style in the world at the moment. A clean slate is probably a good thing in this case.


  5. Hi Tyler, I’m not sure about being the funniest – your compatriot Doug Frost MW is very funny indeed – in every sense of the word LOL
    Keep up the fight against the anti-bloggers who, it appears to me, are no different in what they do to most bloggers.

  6. […] Apera, topaque, vintage, lickoffable – Aussie fortifieds grasp new names Permalink | Comments (11) | SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Is sherry’s retro image ripe for a […]


Wine Maps

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

See my op-eds in the NYT
"Drink Outside the Box"
"Red, White, and Green"


Monthly Archives


Blog posts via email



Wine industry jobs


One of the “fresh voices taking wine journalism in new and important directions.” -World of Fine Wine

“His reporting over the past six months has had seismic consequences, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a blog.” -Forbes.com

"News of such activities, reported last month on a wine blog called Dr. Vino, have captivated wine enthusiasts and triggered a fierce online debate…" The Wall Street Journal

"...well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober." -Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher, WSJ

jbf07James Beard Foundation awards

Saveur, best drinks blog, finalist 2012.

Winner, Best Wine Blog

One of the "seven best wine blogs." Food & Wine,

One of the three best wine blogs, Fast Company

See more media...


Wine books on Amazon: