One of the biggest complaints I hear from my students is that they cannot remember labels. We have all been there. You taste  great little value wine or even a premium wine and the next day, you cannot remember the name on the label. At Cellar Door, we hear often hear customers stuggle with labels and even try to paint a picture such as… “The wine had a blue label and a picture of a duck on it” with high hopes that we will be able to conjure up the name for them. I believe this is one of the reasons why German producers created Zilliken Butterfly ($20). Given the fact that German wine labels are difficult to decipher unless you have a bit of wine knowledge, this med-dry Riesling is easy to sip, easy to say, easy to remember and easy on the wallet. What’s not to like? Plus, most wine purchases at the market are conducted by women. That said, I can tell you that we are sometimes wooed by sweet sounding verbage!

Yet for serious wine drinkers, simple labels may sound too trendy or too kitchy giving them a preconcieved idea that the wine is of low quality. After all, would a real wine lover ever order up a bottle of ZaZa rose or Butterfly Riesling for the table? Think again my wine loving friends – cos times they are a changing….can you say Cupcake Vineyards?

I recently tasted three varieties crafted under the Cupcake label: Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Reisling from Washington State and Cabernet Sauvignon from Central Coast of California. Unlike most wineries, Cupcake takes  the global view of wine literally which, according to winemaker Adam Richardson, “allows us to find the most interesting expression of each grape variety.” After tasting the three bottles with my students in class, I must say we all agree with Mr. Richardson’s strategy. The wines are varietally correct and represent a fun and festive (yet serious) approach to wine.

2009 Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc: Crafted in the cool South Island of New Zealand, this Sauvignon Blanc jumps out of the glass and smacks you in the face with loads of grapefruit, tropical fruit and lemon. Medium alcohol with high, mouthwatering acidity and a long textural finish. Perfect seafood wine or serve with anything you would squeeze a lemon on…

2009 Cupcake Dry Riesling: Made using grapes harvested on the dry side of the Cascade mountians in Coloumbia Valley, this Riesling explodes with grapefruit, lemon and white peach. If you want to try a good quality dry Riesling with your Chinese food tonight – this is it.

2007 Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon: The sun-drenched vineyards of California’s Central Coast is responsible for giving this Cab plenty of ripeness and fruit. Think blackcherry, blackberry, mocha and spice. This year’s blend 89% Cab, 6% Syrah, 2% Petite Sirah and 2% Merlot all aged in American oak.

Sure there is a story behind the name and I am sure it has something to do with sweetness like a cupcake or creamy texture like the icing on a cupcake etc. For me, how the name came about is not important. Instead, the fact that the wines are yummy, affordable (did I mention they are all priced at $10) and easy to remember is reason enough to pass on the good news. Cheers!