ALISTAIR GIBSON: From quirky to sophisticated – can you judge a wine by its label?

Leaf Plucker Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Leaf Plucker Sauvignon Blanc 2017

There are so many wine labels on the supermarket shelves these days, the choice is almost endless.

 In many ways that’s one of the great joys of wine, but it can be quite a maze to navigate.

In this crowded market place wine producers and their marketing departments perhaps unsurprisingly come up with various methods to make their wines stand out – from different colour bottles to ‘funky’ labels.

I have to be honest and say that I am always slightly dubious about some of these designs, it is after all about the wine.

 They say you should never judge a book by its cover, or indeed it seems a wine by its label. 

The label for Leaf Plucker Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Western Cape (Aldi £6.99) probably falls into the quirky side of wine labels and even gives on the back label where the wine gets its name from.

But in this case that’s fine as this is a cracking bottle of spring white wine for the price.

It’s very fresh with lime, peach and some tropical fruits on the bouquet.

Slightly unusually for sauvignon blanc at this level it’s been partially aged in some French oak, but don’t let that put you off.

I n this case it adds some texture and weight to the palate before a crisp, zesty finish.

I served it with some new season English asparagus with a poached egg and it proved to be a perfect match – delicious.

When it comes to the other end of the scale The Wine Society could hardly be accused of dipping their noses into the quirky side of wine labels.

But what you do get is a confidence in recognition of their logo on the bottle.

They are perhaps the most re-assuring of all own-label wines in the UK today.

The Society’s Exhibition Chardonnay 2016, Valle del Limari (The Wine Society £9.95)  is just such a point in case, with a label that is almost from a different era, however the wine top draw. 

Made for The Society by perhaps Chile’s most well-known producer, Concha y  Toro, this is top-notch winemaking at this level.

It has been partially barrel  fermented but the oak is really well judged giving a lovely background rather than  masking the fruit.

There is some white peach, citrus and minerality along with just a touch of spice and vanilla  from the oak. The palate is quite sleek with ripe acidity and a long, elegant finish. Match this with some simply grilled fish or chicken. 

Staying with The Wine Society, The Society’s Sicilian Reserve Red 2014 (The Wine

Society £8.25) will make a great match for those early summer barbecues.

Made  from Sicily’s own nero d’a vola grape, this has ripe red fruits including plums and a

touch of dried herbs before a soft, mellow palate.

Not overly-complicated but in  many ways that’s what makes it so appealing. 

P erfect with charred lamb cutlets.