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Annoying Back Labels

Posted: Aug 29, 2006 8:07am ET

Sometimes I get really tired of reading wine bottle back labels. Some can be on the level of information provided on breakfast cereal boxes or soft-drink bottles. Here’s one I noticed after a friend brought a bottle of Australian Pinot Noir to dinner in Mykonos. It’s on the Yabby Lake Vineyard Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2003, but this just typifies much of what appears on wine labels.

The first paragraph is okay:

Robert and Mem Kirby planted the Yabby Lake Vineyard in 1998 in Moorooduc sub-region of the Mornington Peninsula with the long-term aim of producing one of the world’s class Pinot Noir styles. The 2003 growing season was one of the best ever on the Mornington Peninsula. A mild summer and autumn allowed the modest crops to be harvested in near perfect condition.

Here is when it goes wrong:

The resulting wine has a great depth of colour. Its concentration and length of flavour are exceptional. Pinot Noir fruit flavours abound, complemented with integrated oak and fermentation derived complexity. This wine will age gracefully for up to 7 years under ideal storage conditions. It will slowly develop the forest floor, fungal aromas and tastes in conjunction with berry fruit we associate with quality Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Winemaker – Larry McKenna.

The last part from Burgundy was actually covered up with a small piece of white tape.

Why bother? It doesn’t really tell you anything to help you better understand where and how the wine was made. For example, what happens to the wine after precisely seven years? And so forth.

Do you have other wine bottle back labels that get on your nerves?

Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  August 29, 2006 12:36pm ET
I really hate when the distributor/auction house puts their label on the bottle and sometimes with the nerve to place it over the bottom of the label of the wine itself!!!
Craig Plainfield
portland oregon —  August 29, 2006 1:54pm ET
The award for worst writting on a wine label has to go to the good people at Kestrel in Washington state. How many gramatical errors can you find?"Kestrel Vinters have captured Washington State's exceptional growing conditions to create a line of elegant, distinctive wines. To achieve the remarkable bouquet and flavors of a Kestrel wine, hand-selected growers produce grapes of extraordinary concentration and caliber from established, premium vineyards. It is this obsession to crafting the perfect glass of wine that makes Kestrel wines taste like nothing else from Washington State."Just picture all the growers lined up to be "hand-selected". OUCH!
John Church
Kansas City, MO —  August 29, 2006 2:00pm ET
I like getting the background on where and when the grapes were grown, but I hate it when the wine is described by someone who may never have tasted it, such as when a simple, thin, acidic wine is described as "complex and full-bodied, with black cherries and blackberries accented by mocha with refined tannins..." You get the idea.
Zachary Lang
Boston, MA —  August 29, 2006 2:09pm ET
Some get on my nerves...no specifics that I can recall. However, I just drank the Oriel Barolo and I like the backs of the oriel wines - they tell you exactly what grapes are used, where they're from etc. Actually useful info rather than the garbage usually written by the winery
Mark Mccullough
GA —  August 29, 2006 4:56pm ET
My frustration is trying to read all of the information in tiny type without reading glasses. A little less with larger type please. Also, as an addition to Jeffrey's comments, I get annoyed at the retail outlets that carelessly slap their own large white bar code label or price label on the bottle, often on the wine label.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  August 29, 2006 5:18pm ET
I dislike it when there is NO information on the back label, particularly when it's a $20+ bottle. It just seems lazy.
Dan Jaworek
Chicago —  August 29, 2006 5:18pm ET
Its all advertising nonsense anyway. What are they going to say, that "this wine is a sour, unbalanced wine, with all the characteristics you'd expect from a truly horrible vintage, and all of the flaws that an inexperienced winemaker could possibly hope for"? If you read these labels or the notes from the importer, you'd suspect all wines are gems. I like them best when they are in in French because I can't read French.Dan J
Joseph Romualdi
Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada —  August 29, 2006 6:30pm ET
I enjoy reading the back labels. Especially when they detail which grapes are used and in what percentages. Many French wines have ZERO information with respect to their blends. Some Italian wines are like that too.
Megan J Robinson
Michigan —  August 29, 2006 6:58pm ET
I think that at least the grape varietals and percentages should be listed. It's really hard for someone learning wines, like myself to learn when there is no information. Especially with many Spanish and Italian wines, I find myself constantly asking "what grapes are in this?" Luckily I am in a tasting club that has a number of experienced members who can answer the questions. But when I drink at home, I'm out of luck! (or doomed to internet research on every bottle)
Paul Anderson
Longview, TX —  August 29, 2006 10:59pm ET
I like it when the back label gives me information about the winery and the grapes used. I like when the percentages of a blend are included. I don't want to s ee tasting notes but if I see them, I generally will not read them until I have had my first taste. I then compare my taste to their description.BTW, I live in TX not TZ.
Ready Family Wines
Healdsburg, Ca —  August 29, 2006 11:49pm ET
We put tasting notes on our back label because we feel it helps the customer select a wine that they will enjoy. With so many different styles for each varietal, it can be helpful. Also, our winemaker writes all of the tasting notes which I believe is fairly standard. On a secondary note I do have to say that I personally enjoy an entertaining back label. Dark Horse is a small winery whose back label is pure comedy.
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  August 30, 2006 7:58am ET
Information about the blend of grapes used is very useful. Consider this a hint to all those Wine Spectator editors....especially JS. When the editors are able to tell us what the blend is it really helps consumers like myself who are looking for certain combinations or grape varieties. Thanks!
Rob Lentini
Alexandria, Virginia —  August 30, 2006 9:38am ET
I like blend and region info... not tasting notes.Far more annoying to me, however, is store price stickers on the bottle... 99% of them can't be removed easily and leave glue residue.

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