We have just discovered this witty self-promotional wonky bottle of wine in the Creative Review Annual 2011. Designed by Alt Group, New Zealand, whose website doesn’t have much to show, but there’s also some great work for ‘The Vigneron’ on their Flickr page.
As well as supplying us with the basis for the best pun Grogger has so far come up with, the Pentagram-designed Londis wines have been supplying us with a cheap source of vinous surprises and delights.
Thanks to the opening of a new branch Londis in close to proximity to Grogger HQ, we have been sampling the range of regional French ‘big letter’ wines and their selection of simple Italian gluggers.
Current favourites are definitely the big, ripe and rustic Fitou and the summer-friendly cherry-drop deliciousness of the Valpolicella. But the whole range, although not especially refined, is a great selection of regional appellations and flavours, perfectly suited for mid-week suppers or impromptu parties. Spend £5 on merlot or chardonnay from your local mini-market, and you’ll probably get something sweet, flabby and generic. (We’re looking at you, Echo Falls and Piat d’Or!) So bravo to Londis for finding wines with identity, guts and what we really love, character.
Well it seems that all this social-media-Twatter-bollocks isn’t as rubbish as we’d initially thought. Via the wonders of the hashtagging masses we were fortunate enough to get in touch with Ewan Lacey, wine writer and wine expert on Channel 4’s ‘The Cookery School’. He has very kindly agreed to launch our ‘Celebrity Grogger’ series, and he was so enthusiastic that he’d managed to drink, write and post his report before we’d even had our morning Cointreau’n’Weetabix.
Wine and Only Wine
Every now and then I’ll simply write about wine – just wine – no prattling on about anything else, only about wine. So when I was asked to write a wine review for The Grogger, I took their invitation gladly.
The Grogger (http://grogger.tumblr.com/) is a site dedicated to wine and design, their thing is to look at design – starting with the label – and then to look at the wine itself.
I used it as an excuse to taste the Luddite Shiraz my review of the wine and the label follows, as does a link to the Luddite website so you can have a look at the label in question. I did think about photographing it myself, but I’m no photographer.
Luddite Shiraz 2006
From South Africa’s Western Cape, this is a wine that brings with it some welcome contradictions: it’s a big wine, filled with sunshine and yet it’s deft and agile. It has an abundance of fruit flavours – plum, black cherry – and yet it’s seamed with mouth-watering acidity to lend balance. The alcohol level is high (14%) but the flavours remain distinct. It’s like seeing a hulking sportsman surprisingly nimble on his feet.
Something about the wine reminds me of a syrah from its spiritual home, although this wine is too filled out and muscular to ever pass as a Rhone-clone. It has its own identity and reflects the growing zeal in South Africa for passionate, skilful, excellent wine-making.
The label is simple (like me) and is made to look like it’s been block printed – it could have been for all I know – each bottle of the 21000 made has been numbered by hand. I love the simple approach which makes its statement (echoed in the name of the wine) plainly. The back label proclaims that ‘Technology & mechanization will never be a substitute for passion.’ I agree with them, I agreed with that before I tasted the wine. Having tasted the wine, I find myself agreeing even more (if that’s possible.)
It’s not just great graphic design that we applaud at Grogger, but also a great idea. And so it is with the post-industrial town of Haillicourt who have planted vines of the steep, south-facing slopes of their slag heap.
The aim of the experiment, they say, is to produce a drink that is not only palatable but of high quality, and in so doing to revive the fortunes of this economically depressed region.
The man behind the trial is Olivier Pucek …”This could lead to the regeneration of the whole region. It’s an experiment, and the objective is to produce a wine that is not just drinkable but is of a high quality. If we can do it here, we can show it can be done elsewhere - even, perhaps, in Wales.”
To celebrate our 100th post (and the birthday of one of the team, hence the cake) we sampled a few bottles of wine chosen because of their label. All the wines were bought from Laithwaite’s flagship store at Vinopolis in Borough. Now, forgive us our prejudices, but we also thought Laithwaite’s was a mail-order option for dullard’s too lazy to find their own wine. But, after several trips, we are pleased to say they have a superb selection of exclusive wines, super-friendly staff and bottles always on tasting. And they’re bloody close to Grogger Towers too.
All Out Pinot Grigio, SE Australia Chosen by our Austrian colleague, who perhaps doesn’t appreciate the fine nuances of Australian wit and subtle one-upmanship, she was a bit miffed as to why a cricketer should appear on a bottle of plonk. As it turns out…
1882 is etched in the psyche of many a cricket fan as this was the year England were ALL OUT in the second innings for just 77 runs. That result handed Australia its first Test win and gave birth to the Ashes … It did much for national pride and the sense that anything was possible. The same spirit gave rise to Australia’s wine industry.
In related news, we hear that a winery is Kent is due to release the ‘England won the 2010-2011 Ashes Test series 3-1 and secured their first win down under in 24 years – the first time any team had won three Tests by an innings in a single series away from home, so piss off’ rosé.
Madame F Minervois, France Gutsy red with a supple, fruity body but firm backbone. [Insert sexist wine/woman punchline here].
Red Heads Tomahawk Shiraz, McLaren Vale Juicy and alcoholic, tastes just like red Rowntree’s Wine Gums. Do you remember when wine gums were proper hard? Not all squishy like they are nowadays. Kids, eh? Can’t hack a proper sweet.
The Grinder Pinotage, South Africa ‘Coffee Pinotage’ is a term used to describe wines that have a dark toasted oak flavour to them. Pinotage usually tastes like ass. This tastes like coffee and ass. You can decide whether I mean bum or donkey, they’re both pertinent.
Red Heads Rack One Shiraz Cabernet, McLaren Vale This was yummy, I think. Not sure by that stage. Absolutely blotto, to be honest.
Thanks to all the Grogger Team for taking part. Here’s to another hundred posts!
It is a very sad day at Grogger Towers. Although this is our one-hundredth post, we are distressed to announce the passing of Oddbins. Many of the Grogger team learnt their trade (read: sat our around drinking wine and listening to St Germain) at Oddbins. Founded in 1963, the company changed the landscape of wine-buying with knowledgable staff, infectious entusiasm for unusual wines and bold, splashy graphics accompanied by Ralph Steadman illustrations.
We’ll be very upset to see Oddbins leave our high-streets. There are still creative, independent places to buy wine (The Sampler, Green and Blue, etc), but the passing of The ‘Bins is another step towards a David v. Goliath future for wine buying, with large supermarkets squeezing suppliers for lower prices at the expense of interesting wines.
We would have liked to have seen Oddbins go out with a bang rather than a whimper. But we are sure that somewhere, somehow, their outsider spirit will live on.