what’s in a name?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Naming a wine (or winery) may seem to be the least challenging aspect of this complex business, but guess again. We’ve long ago run out of rivers, rocks, hills, valleys, mountains, slopes, creeks etc. to bring any distinction to a new entry. All the colors have been taken, as have vehicles, animals and articles of clothing.

There were brief forays into vaguely salacious double entendres (Fat Bastard, Bitch) and bodily functions (Frog’s Piss, Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush, and my personal favorite – Le Vin de Merde).

The wild west had a turn too, with Purple Cowboy, Wily Jack, Cowpoke Pinot – you get the drift.

But finding anything usable, let alone distinctive, keeps getting more and more difficult. Recently one of Washington’s brightest new stars, with multiple vintages released under the brand name Grand Rêve, had to backtrack and re-invent itself as Force Majeure. The reason?

Domaine Carneros has a trademark on ‘Le Rêve’ (a sparkling wine). Even though the winery owners applied for and received a trademark on ‘Grand Rêve’ the prospect of a long, drawn out, expensive, legal battle with an entity that could marshal much greater legal and financial resources led to a decision to spend money instead on a new vineyard site and wine operations. “Ultimately,” wrote co-founder Paul McBride, “the wine is more important to us than a word.”

I don’t want to be the one to point out that apparently Force Majeure is also taken here but...

Perhaps Majeure Grand? Force Rêve? Je ne sais pas.

It’s rare that a non-litigious wine name does more than bore or confuse these days. But I have come across one that is so unpronounceably unique, so deliciously incomprehensible, that it has earned a special place in my cold, cold wine writer’s heart.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...Arndorfer Vorgeschmack! Let the party begin!

1 comment:

Larry Olson said...

The last name sounds a bit like a steroid-driven German action film star!

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