Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Labels no joke for grumpy gendarmes

Wine labels are becoming a canvas for individuals with a sense of humour, as well as an outlet for messages including protests. However, it seems that the artwork does not amuse everyone. That proved to be the case recently when Gerard Descrambe at Chateau Renaissance in Bordeaux chose to use a drawing by ‘Charb’ – a designer on the controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine – on a bottle of Bordeaux Superieur. The label featured a drawing of a police officer with a red nose and the quote, “the partner of my blunders.” The French National Police Commission was not impressed, issuing a Tweet stating that it was an insult to suggest mistakes are made by the police because of drinking too much wine. Descrambe insisted it was not malicious. The controversy had a positive impact on sales, with some buyers clearly finding the label worthy of a laugh.

Wine heist at high-end hotel

A high-end restaurant in Spain fell victim to professional thieves who stole rare wine from its cellar. Among the 45 bottles targeted by the two culprits was a 215-year-old bottle of 1806 Chateau d’Yquem, valued at €350,000. The haul also included several bottles from Romanee-Conti dating back to the 19th century. More than 40,000 bottles were held in the stock of the Atrio, a hotel in the city of Caceres which has a two-Michelin-starred restaurant. An English-speaking couple diverted the attention of staff at the hotel reception and slipped into the cellar to remove the wine then checked out the following day. Many of the bottles are individually numbered and the wine is considered too rare to sell on the open market.

Sweet words on Alsace labels

Labels on Alsace wine will look different in future. A new law introduced in 2020 made it compulsory to show sweetness levels on wines from the region. While some producers implemented the new regulations immediately, others delayed making the change. However, there is no longer any way to avoid including the information which is being added at the behest of the wine industry as a way to distinguish between different wines made using the same grapes. Bottles will now show whether the wine fits into the category of ‘sec’, ‘demi-sec’, ‘moelleux’ or ‘doux’. There is no prescribed size for the text, but it must be clearly visible.

Cava fights back

Cava has traditionally suffered from being compared unfavourably with champagne. That has prompted a move over the past decade or so by producers seeking to avoid having to include the cava name on their bottles. It has led to some finding alternative descriptions for their fizz – Conca del Riu Anoia and Penedes being among the makers that use alternative titles. Now cava is fighting back. Starting in January, cava will fall into one of two categories, with Cava de Guarda being a standard version that is aged for nine months, and Cava de Guarda Superior incorporating reserva, gran reserva, and paraje calificado wines, which are aged for at least 18 months. From 2025, all Cava de Guarda Superior will be organic.

Pals find an answer to the picnic problem

Necessity is the mother of invention according to the oft-quoted proverb. That’s certainly what drove two backpackers to create a wine carrier that combines a box with a bottle. Victor Roux and Marin Belorgey have been working for two years to find a lightweight way to carry wine while out hiking. The result is the Bio'teille, which combines the shape of a wine bottle with the lightness of a bag in the box. It has a plastic lid and a moulded fibre shell made from recycled products. It is eight times lighter than a traditional glass bottle and is recyclable as well as compostable and biodegradable. And it’s great for a hiker’s picnic.