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What’s In A Label?

By Alex Russell on November 20, 2013 in Food

Photo: Between Five Bells

Photo: Between Five Bells

I’ve never quite understood why people buy wine purely for the label, but sometimes – just sometimes – a label can really grab my attention, like those of Between 5 Bells.

The team at B5B have ties with Lethbridge Wines. Lethbridge is known for some pretty quirky marketing too – they call one of their Pinots ‘Ménage a Noir’. Lethbridge is a pretty well recognised producer from Geelong and it has five red stars from Halliday. Having that sort of experience behind a new label is always going to help.

The inspiration comes from the wines of two very distinct regions: the new world of California and the old world of the Rhône Valley. What they essentially want to make are wines that drink well, drink relatively young and have soul. It’s a worthy goal and they have certainly succeeded.

They started in 2010 with just one wine, a Red. In 2011, they made a Red again, along with a White and a Rosé. Then, in 2012, they added the ‘H-Cote’ Red to the line-up.

The Red
I’ll start here, since this is where they started. The 2012 red is mostly Sangiovese, Shiraz and Grenache with a smidge of Graciano (a Spanish red grape) thrown in there. Now, look at that swirl on the label (or go to their website to see the label in a higher resolution). It’ll tell you all sorts of fascinating wine-wankery details about how the wine was made. There are eight scales on the label, including things like lowest and highest temperature, the percentage of each grape that is whole berry or de-stemmed, and various other bits of info. It’s a very clever way to present the info and makes for a label that is a talking point, rather than just a pretty but otherwise non-functional label.

But how’s the wine, I hear you ask? If the aim was to be juicy, funky and different, they have certainly succeeded. It’s a relatively light red (not as light as a Pinot, but nowhere near as heavy as those Barossa and McLaren monsters) and is most definitely slurpable, and it’s just $29 per bottle.

The White
This is a really different style of white and I reckon it’s an absolute cracker, especially for about $29 per bottle. It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s kind of unlike any of those. It’s rich, has an amazing texture and will go with just about any food you can think of. I can’t recommend this enough; it’s an absolutely intriguing wine. People with different levels of wine experience will see different things in this wine, but I’d imagine that they would all be positive things.

The H-Cote Red
The new kid on the block has a very different (but still gorgeous and informative) style of label. It’s made from Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola (two Italian grapes), Shiraz and Riesling (yes, Riesling). There are two types of Heathcote reds: those that need a massive amount of age and those that drink well young (and never the twain shall meet). This is most definitely the latter style and it’s pretty sensational at $36 per bottle. The Rosé was sold out when I ordered, so I can’t report in on that.

Where To Buy Them
You can get them directly from the B5B website – While they have prices listed by the six-pack per wine, they’ll let you mix and match too. Plus, the reds come in pink tissue paper and the white comes in yellow tissue paper, so they’ll also make for really good gifts. They are quite limited though, so don’t dawdle.