Beautiful Bottles, Inside and Out

Can’t judge a bottle by its label? Ohio’s Debonne Cityscape Series might surprise you.

Let’s face it. At one time or another, we have all bought a bottle of wine simply because the label is cool or interesting.

Eye-catching label art is a powerful motivator and, although a label is no indication of quality, sometimes a bottle’s beauty proves more than just skin deep.

Take Debonne Vineyard’s recent release of local artist Hector Vega’s Cityscape Series. Vega’s bold colors and geometric patterns transform each label into a mini work of art, while paying homage to a different Cleveland neighborhood. Ohio City Riesling, Tremont Chardonnay and Little Italy Cabernet Franc are all table-worthy wines produced in limited editions, making them excellent bottles for wine lovers and art collectors.

Label art is not new. In fact, Chateau Mouton Rothschild has commissioned famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol to design labels for its bottles every year since 1945.
Yet for quality-minded producers, bottle art can be an expression of the time and extra care it takes to make a great bottle of wine — inside and out.

More importantly, unique label art gives the buyer a “hook” to remember the wine, the label and the occasion. How can anyone forget the night they sipped bubbles from the oh-so-feminine bottle of Perrier Jouet decorated by French artist Emile Galle?

In Sonoma, Calif., Clos du Bois has successfully combined the art of the late Grateful Dead icon Jerry Garcia on a few of his favorite bottles. Garcia’s artistic and musical talents are honored on each vintage by incorporating a work from his lifetime collection on the rightfully dubbed J. Garcia label.

Get creative this season when shopping for a hostess or holiday gift and select a bottle with a splash of panache. Be it a taste-tour through Hector Vega’s Cleveland neighborhoods or a rock tour a la Jerry Garcia’s artful palate, pick up a bottle or two from your local retailer and give the gift of table art this holiday season. Cheers.

Marianne Frantz, CWE and founder of the Cleveland Wine School, was joined by the Cleveland NEOenophiles in selecting and sampling wines for this month’s Cellar Notes.

2005 Debonne ”Ohio City” Riesling Reserve, Grand River Valley, Ohio ($9): Medium intensity of honeysuckle, sugared lemon zest and floral aromas. The wine’s high acidity is balanced by just the right amount of sweetness for a clean, refreshing finish.

2004 Debonne “Tremont” Chardonnay Reserve, Grand River Valley, Ohio ($13): Full-bodied with creamy texture and crisp acidity balanced by fresh aromas of yellow apple, ripe pear, citrus, thyme and vanilla. The wine has a medium-plus finish.

2004 Debonne “Little Italy” Cabernet Franc, Grand River Valley, Ohio ($13): Ruby red with perfumed aromas of strawberry, red cherry, cedar, mint and earthy gravel. Soft tannins and medium-plus acidity give way to a clean, slightly peppery finish.

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