As featured in HoHoHo magazine, December 2013
Christmas is coming and you want to buy a present for your wine-loving designer friend. Somewhere in the back of your mind you remember that they mentioned a love of fine Bordeaux. Or was it Barolo? What’s the difference? Doesn’t matter, they’re both seem to be awfully bloody pricey.
If you find yourself in this situation, do not resort to the designer ‘wine-ephemera’ trap. Your wine-loving friend has a fancy over-engineered corkscrew, or ten, and I guarantee they use their cheap Waiter’s Friend. They already have nice glasses, a handy foil-cutter (‘knife’) and elegant drip-collar (‘kitchen roll’). And if you think that “I love to cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food” fridge magnet/coaster/tea towel is hilarity incarnate, well, your friendship is doomed.
Do you know what your wine-loving friend wants? Wine. Just wine. Wine, wine, wine. Red, white, fizzy or flat, they’ll be grateful either way, whether it’s a bottle they can keep for years or one to wash down their Friday fajitas.
We’re not against choosing a bottle based on the label (if people didn’t judge a book by its cover, graphic designers would be out of a job), but we’ve chosen six beautiful AND delicious wines for you to buy your wino/designo friend this Christmas. Just make sure to give it to them with a casual “Great label, huh? I wonder what it tastes like…”
1. Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2009; Sussex, England – available from Waitrose, £29.99
English sparkling wine keeps on getting better and better, but sadly the same can’t be said for their labels. In 2012, following over 20 years of using the same labelling and branding, Nyetimber worked with design agency Made Thought to modernise and refresh the brand. The end result (and the wine) is refined, elegant and with classic English reserve.
2. Evolution White; Oregon, USA – available from The City Beverage Company, £13.49
There’s a lot going on with the design of this label, but there’s a lot going on inside the bottle too. With nine different grape varieties blended together, this could be a recipe for disaster (as it says on the bottle ‘Luck vs. Intention’) but the resulting wine is fresh, fruity and very moreish.
3. Bergrettung Riesling 2012; Mosel, Germany – available from OddBins, £16.00
OddBins lost its way a few years ago, but there are signs that the old enthusiasm for unusual and creative wines is back. Bergrettung (‘mountain rescue’) comes from a collaboration between ten wineries to save historic vineyards in particularly steep sites in Germany’s beautiful Mosel Valley. Restrained, crisp, clean – and that’s just the typography.
4. Casa Mariol Samsó Criança 2009; Terra Alta, Spain – available from Bottle Apostle, £9.90
If your friends are the kind of hip young things spend weekends chewing their face off in underground Berlin bunkers, they’d probably appreciate the ravey aesthetic of this wine at their next Dalston house party. Produced by Casa Mariol from the naturally tannic Samsó (Carignan) grape and aged in oak for 16 months, this is rich, spicy and ideal for boxing day gammon.
5. Bodegas Carchelo 2011; Jumilla, Spain – available from Bottle Apostle, £10.35
This deep, gutsy, modern blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell and Syrah from the lesser-known Spanish region of Jumilla has been our favourite wine for the last year. The bold design, from the Beetlejuice-striped foil right down to the quote printed on the side of the cork, is pretty natty.
6. Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2009; Bordeaux, France – available from your fine wine merchant, around £600
Since 1945, Mouton Rothschild have commissioned an artist to adorn their label, from Picasso to Warhol, Dali to, er, Prince Charles. For the more sophisticated (and much, much richer) gift-giver, then the 2009 vintage of this Premier Cru Bordeaux will certainly impress, featuring a rich, brooding canvas by Anish Kapoor.