Moscato–or mosc-HOT-oh–is barely wine. In fact, the one above has a nutritional analysis as foods do–the first time I’ve seen that on wine. According to a representative at the importer, Boisset America, because this wine is less than 7% alcohol, it falls under FDA regulation rather than the TTB and thus had to place the “nutrition facts” on the back label.
This type of labeling may become the norm for all wines. What do you think? Have your say in the latest poll. And thanks to the young man about town, @corkhoarder, for supplying the picture.
When you’re shopping for bubbly between now until New Year’s Eve, how will you know how long that nonvintage bottle has been on the shelf? If there were a disgorgement date on the label, you would have a better clue.
Over the weekend, Jancis Robinson tasted two Krug Grande Cuvée wines and commented on Twitter how different they were. Antonio Galloni of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate replied to her that the WA has not reviewed Champagne without a disgorgement date since 2009. (See exchange below.) Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle wondered how many writers it might take to adopt the same policy to force the producers’ hand in the region. It’s a stick approach.
Here’s a carrot for the producers: disgorgement dates will engage the most interested consumers. These are the ones that should be of particular interest to producers since they would look up further information on the producer web site and alert their world to their experience (good or bad) via social media.
Disgorgement dates are important. After the jump, check out Champagne writer Peter Liem, who is pro-disgorgement labeling, giving his reasons why they are important. I’m in favor of Champagne producers putting some sort of legible, comprehensible form of disgorgement dates on the (back) label. If you are too, hit the comments! Read more…
Calera’s back label passes the usefulness test!
Schmaltzy story, cheesy adjectives, mentions of “handcrafted“: none.
Vineyard data and winemaking info: bountiful.
What with Ridge Vineyards, Bonny Doon, and Calera putting lots of info on their labels, there must be something in the air of the Santa Cruz and Gavilan Mountains.
All too often, French labels are stuffy. However, when it comes to good vin de table wines, puns and word play abound. Consider these from the Loire:
This is a tasty yet tannic (thanks six-month maceration!) gamay from Emile Heredia of Domaine de Montrieux in the Coteaux du Vendômois. It’s labeled simply “G.” With a spot over it. He told me, “The anglais say it doesn’t exist–but they haven’t looked for it!” Read more…
How often is the alcohol level stated on the label consistent with what is actually in the bottle?
Wines are allowed a certain fudge factor between what appears on the label and what is actually in the bottle. For wines under 14%, the wine can fluctuate by 1.5 percentage points, which explains why so many wines have traditionally been labeled 12.5% since that gave the maximum flexibility. Above 14%, the producer must pay a higher tax ($1.57 per gallon as opposed to $1.07 for the lower level) and the allowable wiggle room shrinks to one percentage point deviation from what’s stated on the label.
I was curious how often consumers get what they think they are getting. To gain some idea, I oversaw the analysis of a random sampling of 80 wines from the offices of Wine & Spirits magazine, half foreign and half domestic wines. Although we treat the findings as anecdotal, it was interesting to note that half the wines we sampled were almost spot on the stated level, deviating only 0.3 percentage points from the stated level. However, a full ten percent of the wines tested were in the wrong tax bracket, that is to say, they were steering the consumer quite wrong as well as costing the Treasury revenue.
There’s also a perception that wines north of 14% have become more prevalent. In order to determine the extent of this, I examined reports from the Treasury’s TTB unit, which regulates the alcohol industry. Their data showed that wines over 14% alcohol comprised six percent of the still, bottled wines in America in 1995. By 2009, these higher alcohol wines had risen by 50% to account for nine percent of still, bottled wines.
The TTB is in the first year of a market compliance study, examining wines randomly sampled from the retail shelves around the country. The results of this study will be available next year. The TTB currently has 14 investigators nationally involved in enforcement and inspection; There are over 6,500 wineries now in the United States.
Be sure to check out the current issue of Wine & Spirits for my full story. The issue is entirely dedicated to “the buzz around alcohol” and has articles by David Schildknecht, Jamie Goode, Fiona Morrison and others.
Last week, a judge ruled in favor of Cristal champagne over the cava Cristalino. And it wasn’t a taste test.
The makers of the two wines have been sparring in court for the past four years. In the latest round, according to twincities.com, U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen has barred the makers of Cristalino from “using any mark, word, or name similar to the Cristalino name that is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception with Roederer’s Cristal marks.” She also ordered them to change the brand’s name, lose the colors, and change the font on the label.
It would be interesting to hear the legal arguments for both sides. But on the face of it, do you think the makers of the $5.99 cava had constructed their product to free ride on the association with the $300 Cristal?
J. García Carrión, the maker of Cristalino, produces and markets fruit juices and wines in Spain. Champagne Louis Roederer has several wine properties outside of Champagne including Domaine Ott in Provence, Chateau Pichon-Lalande in Bordeaux, and Roederer Estate in California.
Yesterday’s post sparked a discussion about which words and/or information you really would like to have on a back label. While everyone can agree that pabulum (ahem, “handcrafted“) should end up in the dump bucket rather than the back label, what would you like to see?
A site reader sent in the above photo from New Zealand, which blends tech specs with some yadda yadda. Another small importer/distributor commented that half the people he asked actually wanted tasting notes on the back label. Do you want grape varieties on the back when place names only appear on the front? Even though about a quarter of wine consumers feel “overwhelmed” by wine, there’s still a strong case that, pace Mies van der Rohe, more is indeed more when it comes to useful information on the prime real estate of back labels.
Previously, we discussed Randall Grahm’s decision to bare all on his labels and that the FDA may push all producers in that direction. And don’t forget barcodes! So here it is, an omnibus thread for all your back label venting/discussion needs!
Please note that this post does not contain sulfites. And that you may operate machinery after reading it.