Thursday 5 September 2019

Give me a vowel…give me a wine

Vivolo. Ethereo. Incanta. Primavara. Alluria. They could be the names of pharmaceuticals. Or bitcoin apps. In fact, they’re wines.

They’re not in the language of their origin; in fact some of them don’t seem to be in any language at all. They sound as artificial as Quibi, Consignia or Aviva. Vivendi is a media conglomerate; Vivolo is a Pinot Grigio. Really, what’s the difference?

Does Avior sound to you like an Argentinian Malbec? Or a Venezuelan airline? Actually, it’s both.

I have given up trying to understand the “names” of modern commodities like cars. Never mind the Cordia, Tredia and Starion; how am I expected to know what differentiates a “Series 3” from a “Series 5”? They’re cars, not box sets.

How do I tell a Sony MDR-Z7M2 from a Sony DSC-H400? Oh, one’s a pair of headphones and the other’s a camera.

But once upon a time, you knew where you stood with wine labels. In fact, the label probably told you where the winemaker stood. A wine would have a name like Le Vieux Chateau Guibeau, from which one of those knowledgeable people we call “wine buffs” would conclude that it was probably French.

Then along came New World wines from places like Australia, California and South Africa where they labelled wines in English. Sometimes their name would identify the actual place where the wine had come from, but often the wines were labelled with either invented but evocative locations (Bays, Valleys, Creeks etc) or just concocted, unusual phrases or names.

This has proved so popular that the style been adopted by countries whose native language isn’t English. So Stones and Bones, which could come from anywhere on the planet, actually comes from Portugal. The Waxed Bat is from Argentina. Some time ago, we wrote about a white Bordeaux which transformed its sales by eschewing the Vieux Chateau tradition and caliing itself Stone Rock. And before you know it, you end up with a wine from Moldova calling itself Plum Valley, instead of Valea Perjei.

Anyone would think winemakers were trying to disguise their origins. Andoni is a sparkling white which sounds vaguely Italian, in the same manner as Cornetto. It is in fact from Hungary. Solevari and Primavara are from Romania; and so is Incanta.

And we are back again at these concocted, nothing names, suggesting no particular country of origin, no authenticity, no typicity – but which will presumably sell around the world. Incanta; Vivolo; Manera; Beneficio; Velea. It’s a bit like going to TK Maxx, where labels sound vaguely like a name you might have heard of, but have actually been invented – by TK Maxx.

Alpha Zeta is a Venetian Chardonnay. Because…?. 

Alluria is an organic pinot grigio which sounds like a cheap seductive fragrance (although for all I know it tastes like one).

And Ethereo could be anything from a chill-out album to a mattress. It is in fact a Galician Albarino. The importers say of its winemaker that “You can taste his passion for the region”, a passion that clearly doesn’t extend to putting anything Galician into its name.

Completely artificial, concocted with no regard for authenticity, history, origin or typicity. If those are their names… what might that say about the wines?


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