Artisan Wine Review
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A Wine Label Revolution

The old world winemakers are starting to come around to accepting the new reality of the worldwide marketplace.   Their obstinate stance against having to change the way they do things comes from always having had protected markets and generations of customers to buy their products.
However, times do indeed change and the wine industry as a whole can be summed up in one word, Competition.   Even venerated old wineries that have family names dating back many generations must face international market forces.   Their labels must now compete for customers against an army of no-name wineries that are producing first quality wines in other parts of the globe.
A customer that has the freedom to choose may not pick up your bottle just because that was the way it was always done.   In fact, the customer may not care about arguments that dismiss another wine region's grapes because they were cultivated on lands that were previously planted with potatoes, or that those producers regularly irrigate their vines, or use machine harvesters.   Their only concern for this evening, is that they are looking to buy a good tasting, inexpensive bottle of wine.
In today's marketplace, if a bottle of wine has an attractive label, and it does not contain long names that buyers cannot pronounce, or intimidating words that they do not recognize, then the wine may be selected for purchase instead of the ugly looking bottle next to it on the shelf with the tired, uninspired packaging.
Burgundy is a classic example of what we have in mind when we use the wine term, "old world".   That region is finally loosening up its grip on wine labels, albeit only in the lower (AOC) tiers.   Until a few years ago, a bottle of wine that came from Burgundy and did not indicate a designated AOC village would simply be labeled, Bourgogne Rouge, or Bourgogne Blanc.   Today many of those same wines will include the words, Pinot Noir or Chardonnay printed directly under the above words in order to aid consumers in their buying decisions.

Germany has also been making inroads in revamping their wine labels.   Once again, in the lower tiers we see evidence of an acknowledgement of changing times.   Gone are the unapproachable names displayed in Gothic text.   Now, QBA level wines are simple called, "Estate Wines", and their uncluttered front labels display just the name of the grape, the year, and the wine's producer.
Success breeds success.   As the increased sales on these re-packaged bottles becomes evident, more and more old world wineries will slowly, but inexorably, begin to follow suit and put pressure on their governments to allow them freedom in the way they can print their wine labels.
Curiously enough, the opposite is now becoming true for many new world wine producers.   After years of trumpeting the weather as the single most important factor in wine production, they are starting to publicly admit that terroir really does matter.
These days, it is not all that uncommon to see wine labels indicating that the grapes used have come from specific growing sites, such as California's Dutton Ranch,
Oregon's Shea Vineyard, or Washington State's Klipsun Vineyard.
If these labeling trends continue, consumers will truly be in the driver's seat when it comes to making informed buying decisions on wine.

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