Today’s issue of Barrel Sediment brings you another exposé of seedy practices within the wine community – this time focusing on an unusual wine from DownUnder Cellars.
You’re browsing the wine section at the supermarket. You see the catchy label on the bottle. It has an abstract drawing of a kangaroo, and it tells you that this wine is a “Red ‘Roo’ 2006 Chardonnay. Then you do a double take. Inside the heavy, clear Bordeaux-shaped bottle is a red wine!
Mistake, you think? Read the back label on the bottle:
Your eyes don’t deceive you, mate. That’s a wine of the color red you’re looking at in this very bottle but it’s a chardonnay for sure. A full, rich, robust wine typical of the type you find down under and that’s why we’ve got our name on the bottle. DownUnder Cellars, El Centro, CA.
What gives??? A red chardonnay??? Actually it’s a rather deep purple to be exact. We contacted DownUnder Cellar spokesperson Abby Gilroy to explain this weirdness and were able to gather a brief interview before she slammed the phone down on us.
BS: Tell us, Ms. Gilroy, what is the method or madness behind marketing a red chardonnay?
AG: You’ve got “white zinfandel” and “rose of cabernet” among other wines, so why not a “red chardonnay?”
BS: But chardonnay is a white grape. How do you get a red wine from a white grape?
AG: That’s the law.
BS: The law?
AG: Yes, the law. The law says that to be called a varietal, like chardonnay, 75% of the grapes used in making the wine have to be of that variety. So 75% of the grapes in that bottle of Red ‘Roo are chardonnay.
BS: And the other 25% must be some really dark grapes. If they’re even grapes, that is.
AG: That’s pretty insulting.
BS: I get the idea that you are trying to fool people into thinking this wine comes from Australia when in fact this is a California wine, according to your label.
AG: We’re in El Centro, California, the southernmost city in the state. You’re going to tell me that’s not “DownUnder?”
BS: The name of your winery combined with the drawing of a kangaroo.. what’s up with that?
AG: Are kangaroos only in Australia?
BS: They’re not in California.
AG: Didn’t you ever go to the zoo?
BS: The point is, the name of your winery – “DownUnder” and the drawing of a kangaroo on the label and the name of the wine – “Red ‘Roo” – all combine to give a misleading impression of the wine. Not to even mention the fact that the wine is red! The only thing “DownUnder” about you are your business practices!
AG: So what are you trying to say?
BS: I just said it.
AG: Then I don’t believe there’s anything left to discuss. Good day. [hangs up]
Well there you have it folks, another shady, bottom of the barrel practice in the wine industry exposed by Barrel Sediment. Get the jump on DownUnder Cellars before they get the jump on you! Here’s some advice to remember: Don’t eat yellow snow and don’t drink red chardonnays!
Serious note: The picture on the wine label came from this site, which has some good-looking artwork. At least I thought so. Very interesting.