The wine you see in the photo appeared in a recent Friday night tasting. It was rather indistinct in the impression it made, light bodied, toasty, crisp, with tropical fruit flavors and a slightly toasty, citrusy finish. It was an easy drinker. I guessed it as a New World Chardonnay. Instead it turned out to be Chenin Blanc from the Santa Ynez Valley. No harm done. Never underestimate domestic winemakers’ abilities to take any white grape varietal and make it taste like Chardonnay.
Indistinct as the wine was, the experience was distinct in two different ways. First, the wine epitomized the revival of this once ubiquitous varietal that almost disappeared in California after 2000. More on this in a future blog exploring the Chenin Blanc grape.
The second was one that struck me as soon as we unveiled the bottle: its back label.
Back labels have long been the bain of my wine existence, causing me to level much scorn and derision upon them. Have you noticed how much highfalutin bullshit you find in back labels? These range from sappy family stories of the winemakers – about which we really don’t care -, to self-aggrandizing elevations of the liquid inside – when often it is not -, to wordy descriptions of the nose and flavors we are supposed to experience – many inconspicuous-, to foods that the wine should be paired with – mostly obvious. Then there are the ones that try to be funny. Please! Display your lack of talent with stand-up and leave the wine alone!
What we seek in back labels is information, good, solid, useful information. Not fluff.
Here, this 2014 Jurassic Park Vineyards – yes, a strange choice of name for the wine – delivers a back label as it should be. Let’s recite all it contains:
Site: Jurassic Park Vineyard.
Vineyard Manager: Ben Merz.
Year Planted: 1978 (Old Vine).
Vineyard Size: 8 Acres.
Rootstock: Own Rooted.
2014 Yield: 3.1 Tons per Acre.
Varietal: 100% Chenin Blanc.
Cooperage: 100% Acacia Wood, 25% New, 75% Seasoned For 8 Months.
Harvest Date: 9/07/2014 At an Average of 20.8 Brix.
Production: 1100 Cases made.
Yes, yes and yes!
Okay, he may have overshared a bit. An average wine drinker really does not care about rootstock, brix, or wood barrel composition. But, whoever designed this label clearly takes his or her job seriously, and is frank about it, No need to conceal their winemaking secrets behind meaningless nonsense.
I present my readers with this back label as a recipe against the scourge of back label logorrhea. Hoping to see more such sincerity instead, I ask you all to look for others that do the same.