Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hash-Tag This Mother F#cker

It is no secret that several bountiful harvests in the Okanagan and Similkameen have produced a lot of wine.

How do you move it if you are a medium-sized winery?

Church & State Wines hired Vancouver-based Brandever, the design firm run by Bernie Hadley-Beauregard. He has had many home runs since he created the name and the labels for Blasted Church Vineyards in 2002.

He has also created a lot of quirky names. One of those that never made it, thankfully, was Dangling Carrot. The owners of that winery preferred Backyard Vineyards.

Church & State’s new Lost Inhibitions labels are as edgy as they come, which seems to be just what winery owner Kim Pullen was looking for.

“Over the years, we’ve been known to speak our minds openly with consumers, peers and regulators in the wine industry,” Kim said in a statement released with the wines. “We felt it was time that we launched an equivalently mouthy wine that reflects our impassioned style and personality.”

The samples that came my way were a red called I’ve Never Felt More Classy and a white called Kiss Me Stupid.

John Pullen, Church & State’s marketing manager, says there are a number of edgy labels for these wines … perhaps as many as 100. Those bottles with the more racy labels will be found in private wine stores, probably because government stores would not be caught dead with some labels (such as the one in the headline for this blog post).

Provocative labels will sell a bottle once. Repeat sales depend on what is inside the bottle. Church & State has put good wines into these packages.

I suspect these will appeal a critical younger demographic of wine consumers. There are consumers out there who are bored with varietal wines for no good reason except that everybody else was drinking them. Remember the Anything but Chardonnay crowd? Or the lingering negativity toward Merlot after it was slagged in the movie, Sideways?

Perhaps you can pull those consumers in with good blends and far-out labels. We will know whether Brandever has hit another home run when we see patrons in the Cactus Club or Moxey’s enjoying Kiss Me Stupid.

If it really works, consumers will then search out the more staidly labelled wines from Church & State. Here’s a hint: for the next special celebration, get a bottle of Quintessential, a $55 Meritage blend that is one of the best red wines in Canada.

Here are my notes on the wines. Prices are approximate because the government’s new pricing regime is a bit hard to figure out.

Lost Inhibitions Kiss Me Stupid 2014 ($18). This is a blend of 35.18% Viognier, 19.7% Gewürztraminer, 16.83% Sauvignon Blanc, 16.36% Chardonnay, 7.3% Riesling, 3.05% Orange Muscat and 1.58% Roussanne. You know that a winemaker with the patience to make such detailed measurements might also have the patience to make a good blend. This wine begins with aromas of herbs, spices and pears. On the rich palate, there are flavours of ripe apple, pears and apricots. The wine is dry with a lingering finish. 90.

Lost Inhibitions I’ve Never Felt So Classy 2013 ($20 for 3,800 cases). This is 51.7% Merlot, 30.6% Cabernet Franc, 13.6% Malbec and 4.1% Petit Verdot. This is a delicious wine with flavours and aromas of cherry and blackberry, accentuated by hints of toasty oak and pepper. The soft tannins give this wine immediate approachability. 88.    


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