Ask A Wine Expert: Pretty Labels That Actually Taste Great

March 6, 2014 6:19 AM

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(Photo credit: NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pontiac Fiero (Photo from Liftarn/Wikimedia Commons)

The Pontiac Fiero, while sharp looking, was pretty much a disaster in all other realms. Its production was discontinued after just 4 years. (Photo from Liftarn/Wikimedia Commons)

We aren’t about to point any fingers, but plenty of people buy wine based solely on the pretty label. With that mentality, there’s a good chance you end up with the Pontiac Fiero of wines.

Cringe-worthy, really. This is where Wes Narron, Chief Wine Ambassador of City Wine Tours comes in. He’s offering up a list of 8 wines (in various price points) that not only look good, but taste incredible as well (Think: Porsche).

Take it away, Wes!

I’m giving you wines at several different price points:

3 wines @ $8 – $15
2 wines @ $20 – $25
2 wines @ $120 – $160
1 wine @ $345 – $1000

2012 Monte Oton Garnacha (Photo from bodegasborsao.com)

2012 Monte Oton Garnacha (Photo from bodegasborsao.com)

2012 Monte Oton Garnacha

Campo de Borga, Spain
$8
Available @ Macy’s Liquors, West Roxbury, MA

The wine shows bright and full Garnacha notes of ripe black fruits, as well as raisins, blueberries, and plums. It’s fermented in stainless steel tanks and doesn’t spend any time in oak barrels. That helps explain why it’s so cheap! Only $8? Don’t be afraid of the price. You can find some great wines from Spain for under $12.

2013 Huber Hugo Gruner Veltliner (Photo from www.weingut-huber.at)

2013 Huber Hugo Gruner Veltliner (Photo from http://www.weingut-huber.at)

2013 Huber Hugo Gruner Veltliner

Traisental, Austria
$14
Available @ Blanchard’s Liquors, Jamaica Plain, MA

Gruner Veltliner is a wine that goes with so many foods, but especially with vegetarian dishes. It shows delicate fresh green apple fruity aromas and flavors of lemon, lime and peaches. If you want to try something other than Sauvignon Blanc, try Gruner Veltliner.

2011 Michael & David Petite Petit (Photo from www.michaeldavidwinery.com)

2011 Michael & David Petite Petit (Photo from http://www.michaeldavidwinery.com)

2011 Michael & David Petite Petit

Lodi, California
$15
Available @ Brookline Liquor Mart, Brighton, MA

There’s a reason this wine has pictures of elephants on the label. It’s a whopper. This is a dense, substantial, full-bodied, deep purple-colored wine with dark fruit, blueberry, and vanilla flavors. Why is it called “Petite Petit”? It’s a blend of 85% Petite Syrah and 15% Petit Verdot. This is a tooth-stainer!

2010 Ceretto Moscato d’Asti (Photo from www.ceretto.com)

2010 Ceretto Moscato d’Asti (Photo from http://www.ceretto.com)

2010 Ceretto Moscato d’Asti

Piedmont, Italy
$20 (375 ml)
Available @ Blanchard’s Liquors, West Roxbury, MA

Italy serves up the perfect dessert wine. This Moscato d’Asti has a gentle frizzante bubble and a slightly sweet taste, showing orange blossom, honeysuckle, almonds, ginger and ultra expressive fruit dominated by green grapes, citrus tones and ripe peach nuances.

2013 Miraval Provence Rose’ (Photo from www.miraval-provence.com)

2013 Miraval Provence Rose’ (Photo from http://www.miraval-provence.com)

2013 Miraval Provence Rose’

Provence, France
$25
Available @ Busa Liquors, Lexington, MA

The second vintage of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s Provence rose’, Chateau Miraval, made in collaboration with the Perrin family of acclaimed Chateauneuf-du-Pape winery Chateau de Beaucastel, will be arriving soon. Their first vintage was pretty good, too, a serious rosé which rated No. 84 in Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of 2013; the only rosé to make the list. This has flavors of dried red berry, tangerine, melon, with a hint of cream.

2004 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque (Photo from www.perrier-jouet.com)

2004 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque (Photo from http://www.perrier-jouet.com)

2004 Perrier- Jouet Belle Epoque

Champagne, France
$120
Available @ Wollaston Wines & Spirits, Quincy, MA

It’s hard to fail buying a bottle of true Champagne. This is a vintage wine from 2004. Most sparkling wines are made from several years’ of juice blended to create a consistent house style. A sweet floral bouquet lends to elegant flavors of apple and lime, with a hint of toast on the soft finish. It’s made from 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, and 5% Pinot Meunier; the classic Champagne recipe. Aged for 8 years in the Perrier-Jouet cellars.

2011 Mollydooker Velvet Glove (Photo from www.mollydookerwines.com)

2011 Mollydooker Velvet Glove (Photo from http://www.mollydookerwines.com)

2011 Mollydooker Velvet Glove

MacLaren Vale, Australia
$160
Available @ Macy’s Liquors, West Roxbury, MA

“Mollydooker” is an Australian slang term for a boxer whose strong punch comes from his left hand. The Velvet Glove is an extraordinary wine that shows an opulent, silky feel and flavors of fresh flowers, berry fruit, spices, tobacco, plum, coffee, and several kinds of chocolate. To showcase its beauty and power, the winery seals the bottle with a black velvet label printed with silver foil, then places it in a luxurious velvet bag.

This is the wine involved in the July 2011 $1 million accident, when a forklift at the Adelaide docks dropped a container that was headed for the U.S., and held almost 500 cases of the 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove… smashing every bottle.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Photo from www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com)

Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Photo from http://www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com)

2005 Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Bordeaux, France
$1000
Available @ Blanchard’s Liquors, West Roxbury, MA

This is the ultimate pretty label wine. Starting in 1946, Chateau Mouton Rothschild has hired a world-renowned artist to create the label for their signature red wine. A brilliant strategy, since it’s made their product into a collectible item. Red Bordeaux is made from a blend of 5 different grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Here’s a sampling of some of the folks who’ve painted labels for Mouton: Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Francis Bacon, Marc Chagall, and Andy Warhol. The most recent vintage, 2010, was painted by Jeff Koons. If you can find a bottle of Mouton, you’ll discover the prices range from $345 for the 1988 Keith Haring to $1800 for the laser-etched 24-carat gold inlaid label on the 2000 vintage.

Wes Narron is the Chief Wine Ambassador of City Wine Tours and thinks learning about wine should be as much fun as drinking it. City Wine Tours hosts weekend wine tasting tours in several Boston and NYC neighborhoods, plans corporate and private events, and encourages learned debauchery.
855-455-8747. http://www.citywinetours.com

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