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Weird Named Good Tasting Wines

BookLovinGirl Feb 9, 2008 05:23 AM

My brother is a wine fanatic, for christmas I'm looking to put together a collection of strange wines that he may not other wise try, I'm looking for strange named ones, with fun labels (like Fat Bastard). So I'm looking for all of your chowhounds help, because I'm not a big wine drinking. I want fun bottled wines, but it also needs to taste good!

  1. lynnlato Feb 9, 2008 06:04 AM

    Barrel Monkey Shiraz by Redheads Studio. A great Australian red wine. Go to their website... they have an interesting history. The label is cool too.


    2 Replies
    1. re: lynnlato
      jcoz23 Feb 11, 2008 12:35 PM

      Wow, you are REALLY planning ahead for Christmas!

      For reds I like Stump Jump (Australia) and Goats Do Roam (South Africa) or Red Truck (California). Those are all around $10 (I can't remember which Goats Do Roam it was I tried...there are several). I have also tried several of the Menage a Trois reds, those were decent. I used to like Seven Deadly Zins but lately it hasn't tasted as good, I don't know if the last few vintages have gone downhill or if my tastes have just evolved... Mollydooker from Australia makes a couple of really red good wines with silly names, The Boxer and Two Left Feet. Those are more around $20-$25. Before any wine snobs lecture me, I did not taste any of these wines on the basis of their silly name alone :)

      1. re: jcoz23
        cooknKate Feb 22, 2008 02:04 PM

        I love that Mollydooker Two Left Feet. That is a terrific bottle.

    2. Midlife Feb 9, 2008 12:19 PM

      Here are a few to look for:

      Big Ass Cab, Chard, or Zin
      Big Yellow Cab
      Zig Zag Zin
      7 Deadly Zins
      Menage a Trois
      Marilyn Merlot
      Cardinal ZIn
      Tumbling Tractor
      Stump Jump

      1. invinotheresverde Feb 10, 2008 09:06 AM

        Book, in my experiences, I've found wineries that use gimmicky labels/names don't produce very good wine. A cute label/name is well and good, but there's a pretty good chance that your "wine fanatic" brother will hate what's inside the bottle. The wine isn't good enough to rely on word of mouth or stand on its own, so they plop a fuzzy something or other on the label.

        This probably isn't a hard and fast, 100% rule, but I've never had a gimmicky bottle with good stuff inside, and I've unfortunately tried many. Thanks, Mom!

        6 Replies
        1. re: invinotheresverde
          Meann Feb 10, 2008 10:16 AM

          I had an Australian shiraz the other week called "The Father-in-Law." Normally I would have avoided it because of the goofy-name-poor-wine wisdom noted above, but it was actually quite good. I have the sense that Australians are more likely to go for silly/catchy names for good wine than other folks.

          1. re: Meann
            lynnlato Feb 10, 2008 01:27 PM

            Monkey Barrel shiraz by Redheads is an amazing shiraz. Interesting point about Aussies - you might be on to something.

            But yeah, generally the cheesy names yield icky wine.

          2. re: invinotheresverde
            maria lorraine Feb 11, 2008 12:57 PM

            "I've found wineries that use gimmicky labels/names don't produce very good wine. A cute label/name is well and good, but there's a pretty good chance that your "wine fanatic" brother will hate what's inside the bottle."

            Totally agree. Exactly my impression when tasting wines with gimmicky names.
            Be careful pursuing this strategy for buying wines for a wine fanatic. You really risk the wines being a "white elephant" gift -- the thought is appreciated but the gift isn't enjoyed. How about pursuing delicious but unknown wines or unknown varietals you brother may not have heard of or tried? That might be a strategy that is met with greater appreciation by your brother. Idea starters here:

            1. re: maria lorraine
              jcoz23 Feb 11, 2008 01:34 PM

              I know the rule of thumb about wines with cute names... But just out of curiousity... Are there ANY wines that you enjoy that have fun names? I don't buy wines based on the cuteness of the name or label, but I still have come across many that I think are decent that fall into this category. True, I think I probably have lower standards than most since my average amount spent on a bottle of wine is probably $12... But there are so many Aussie wines out there with unusual names, I would think a few would good by anyone's standards. Just wondering...

              1. re: jcoz23
                maria lorraine Feb 11, 2008 02:16 PM

                [scratching my head trying to think of some]

                Well, I love Lightning Strike by Nickel & Nickel, but it's so named because the wine was a happy accident -- the result of an accidental blending of Cabernet and Syrah that turned out to be serendipitous. I like names like Rock Cairn (by several wineries) and Earthquake and other names of that ilk, but I don't consider them gimmicky. I always consider a gimmicky name as trying to appeal to young or uneducated wine drinkers, or trendy wine drinkers, and gosh, I guess I'm neither. But if I think of a gimmicky wine that passes the taste test, I'll let you know. [still scratching my head]

                1. re: jcoz23
                  carswell Feb 13, 2008 09:10 AM

                  Opitz One, a Zweigelt straw wine made by Willi Opitz.

                  Vous en voulez ? En voilà. ("You want some? Here it is.", an easy-drinking vin de pays des Côtes de Brian made by Domaine de Gravillas in Minervois)

                  The label of Frog's Leap's Late Leap, Le Baiser Magique ("the magic kiss") was a delicious parody of the Château d'Yquem label and the cork had "grribbit" printed on it. Unfortunately, there was nothing delicious about the wine.

            2. diablo Feb 10, 2008 01:51 PM

              Toasted Head chardonnay is good and usually well priced.

              1. im_nomad Feb 10, 2008 03:06 PM

                Goats Do Roam red. Really enjoyed this one. Not pricey.

                Can't recall if i've tried this one but "Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush"
                or "Woop Woop Verdelho"

                2 Replies
                1. re: im_nomad
                  AnneInMpls Feb 16, 2008 09:11 AM

                  I had some "Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush" last year, and liked it a lot. I might have been favorably swayed by the name (I love silly names), but I thought it was quite tasty.

                  I also really like the Goats du Roam wines, but I'm not sure if the name is silly enough (ya gotta know about the reference to "Cotes du Rhone", which is a stretch).

                  I agree with other posters that you have to be REALLY careful with cutesy names. Many are mediocre-to-terrible.


                  1. re: AnneInMpls
                    Frodnesor Feb 16, 2008 11:54 AM

                    Hopefully a "wine fanatic" as described by OP will get the Goats du Roam / Cotes du Rhone pun. Just as s/he would get that "cat pee" and "gooseberry" are classic descriptors for Sauvignon Blanc.

                    BTW, the same South African producer that makes Goats do Roam also makes a Goat Roti and a Bored Doe. [ba-dum-dum]. I've had the first two and they're reasonably good wines.

                2. lynnlato Feb 10, 2008 03:41 PM

                  Another good one is "The Prisoner" by Orin Swift Cellars. The 'O5 received a 93 rating from Wine Spectator. This is a red wine blend of zin, cab, petit sirah, syrah & charbono. It's highly regarded and a big fruit wine. I received a bottle as a gift and fell in love. It runs about $35/bottle.

                  Another suggestion, Bully Hill Winery in the finger lakes in NY has many strangely named wines. Most of the stuff is swill but their are interesting stories behind the labels. For instance, he has a table red called "Love My Goat". From what I remember, Walter Taylor was the son of the founder of the Taylor Wine Co. His family at some point sold the company to Coca-Cola. Well, Walter was an artist and a bit of an eccentric. He contined to make wine and Coca-Cola sued him b/c they claimed they owned the rights to his name (Taylor). They were successful. He had many labels printed w/ the Taylor name already printed on them so he hired a bunch of local college students, gave them a pile of markers had them black out the Taylor name on the labels. He paid them by supplying them with all the wine they could drink. Then he used the labels w/ the black marks - as sort of a protest.

                  I've visited this winery several times and although the wine isn't great it's always a fun tour and I love the story. Oh, and Walter had a pet goat - thus the name of the red wine "Love My Goat"! (his artwork is on the labels as well).


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: lynnlato
                    im_nomad Feb 10, 2008 04:37 PM

                    Lynn..is "the prisoner" widely available? i've never seen this...........i picture it with a label of the prison yard painting by Van Gogh........but probably not.... i'm intrigued by this one though.....

                    1. re: im_nomad
                      mengathon Feb 11, 2008 11:25 AM

                      The Prisoner should be pretty widely available. At the 5 stores in NYC I most frequently shop, 4 of them had it. The label is artsy and rather unique, with a man in chains. As for the wine, I haven't tried it yet, but I was told by one of the store people that while it had big fruit, it was quite balanced as far as zinfandel goes.

                      1. re: im_nomad
                        lynnlato Feb 11, 2008 02:58 PM

                        Pretty much. I've found it in small boutique shops and at Total Wine. It was listed on WS's 2007 top 100 as #17 too.


                        1. re: im_nomad
                          Icantread Feb 12, 2008 08:51 AM

                          Prisoner is rather widely available in most reputable wine shops (at least in S. FL), though the 2005 has sold out already and they're on to 2006. I've heard that it's just as good and I've heard it's still a bit tannic for drinking, but have not tried it myself

                          1. re: Icantread
                            im_nomad Feb 12, 2008 01:10 PM

                            Canada here.

                      2. goodhealthgourmet Feb 10, 2008 04:38 PM

                        smoking loon?

                        1. o
                          oliveoyl Feb 10, 2008 06:50 PM

                          Owen Roe ..Sinister Hand! Has a hand (looks like it's in knight's armor) w/ no arm on the label ..+ it's really good!

                          1. purple goddess Feb 10, 2008 07:01 PM

                            Ten Minutes By Tractor.


                            Fifth Leg.


                            1. Frodnesor Feb 11, 2008 12:16 PM

                              Sine Qua Non "Boots, Pasties, Scanty Panties and Ten Gallon Hat" Roussane. Good luck finding it - there's a 2-bottle set listed on Wine Searcher for $995.

                              While there's plenty of dreck that's been gussied up with a silly or cute name, there's also any number of creative, goofy people who make great wines that they've given creative, goofy names. I don't think you can necessarily form a judgment one way or the other without knowing the wine.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                invinotheresverde Feb 11, 2008 12:26 PM

                                Frod, while I agree there are exceptions to every rule, simply look at wines some have pointed out. If the brother in question is really a wine enthusiast, do you really think he'll be satisfied with Smoking Loon, Red Truck, Toasted Head, Little Penguin, etc.?

                                1. re: invinotheresverde
                                  Frodnesor Feb 11, 2008 03:28 PM

                                  *If the brother in question is really a wine enthusiast, do you really think he'll be satisfied with Smoking Loon, Red Truck, Toasted Head, Little Penguin, etc.?*

                                  No - but do you think he'd turn down some "Boots, Pasties, Scanty Panties and Ten Gallon Hat"? (or the wine? ba-dum-dum).

                                  My point is, if given some time, I think I could come up with at least a half dozen amusingly or eccentrically named wines that would appeal to even a wine fanatic.

                                  How about ->

                                  - Loring "Hungry Like the Llama" Pinot.
                                  - "Bitch" Grenache (made by Chris Ringland).
                                  - Behrens & Hitchcock "Fat Boy" blend.
                                  - Chateau Potelle "VGS" zinfandel ("Very Good Shit").
                                  - Bonny Doon "Le Cigare Volant" (French for flying cigar) (OK, I'll admit that Bonny Doon sadly hasn't impressed wine fanatics for some time).
                                  - just about anything from Mollydooker (not my thang, at least not the "Boxer", but some folks - including wine fanatics - love 'em, particularly the higher end stuff like the "Carnival of Love" Shiraz).
                                  - Martinelli "Jackass Hill" zinfandel (so named b/c "only a jackass would farm a hill that steep", to quote their website).
                                  - Red Car "Shake Rattle & Roll" Syrah

                                  ... again, good luck chasing some of them down, but I think there's several here that would impress.

                                  1. re: Frodnesor
                                    invinotheresverde Feb 12, 2008 08:06 AM

                                    Agreed, and like I said, there are exceptions to every rule (although I'd 86 the Bonny Doon, Bitch, and Mollydooker and double up on the Martinelli).

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde
                                      Frodnesor Feb 12, 2008 09:04 AM

                                      I've actually found the Bitch to be a very nice under-$15 bottle.

                                      1. re: Frodnesor
                                        im_nomad Feb 12, 2008 01:12 PM

                                        what a perfect wine to buy myself for an anti-Valentines Day meal alone, hehe.

                                        1. re: im_nomad
                                          Frodnesor Feb 12, 2008 01:36 PM

                                          The logo is even in pink script writing with a pink heart behind it.

                                          1. re: Frodnesor
                                            Frodnesor Feb 12, 2008 01:37 PM

                                            Adding picture ->

                                    2. re: Frodnesor
                                      zin1953 Feb 16, 2008 03:00 PM

                                      >>> . . . but I think there's several here that would impress."

                                      As with all things, that depends upon each individual's palate, doesn't it?

                                      I don't personally like Brian's wines -- I like Brian; just not his wines.

                                      I've yet to have anything from Mollydooker (or Marquis Phillips) that I've really enjoyed.

                                      Both Chateau Potelle and Martinelli make Zins that -- to my taste -- are too ripe, too "over-the-top."

                                      Never had the "Bitch" or the "Fat Boy." . . . Red Car is good.

                                      C'est la vie -- just my highly personal 2¢


                                2. t
                                  thedoorchick Feb 11, 2008 12:19 PM

                                  I like Little Penguin.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: thedoorchick
                                    operagirl Feb 25, 2008 08:19 PM

                                    I don't like most of their wines, but the cabernet is amazing in a too-sweet-and-inky-for-snobs-but-I-think-it's-delicious-so-there sort of way =)

                                  2. JoBear Feb 11, 2008 04:43 PM

                                    Like others have suggested, if you can find it, the Prisoner is great - a blend with zinfandel and 5 other grapes. Made by Orin Swift. Should run around $34 or so. Also, if you can find "Rocket Science", a California blend, it has a great label and is very good. I am an east coaster, but have found several places in CA that carry and will ship lots of these great wines that are hard to find anywhere outside CA. Try www.wadeswines.com for one. AAhhhhh - so many wines, so little time.....

                                    1. a
                                      AlabasterDisaster Feb 12, 2008 11:27 AM

                                      "The Ball Buster" by Tait gets good reviews but I was not a fan.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: AlabasterDisaster
                                        cleopatra999 Feb 14, 2008 06:50 AM

                                        There is a Canadian Wine that is getting decent reviews up here called Blasted Church. Not sure how widely available it is in the states. unfortunately I cannot tell you which ones of their's though.

                                        Good luck, what a fun gift!

                                        BTW...I second Goats do Roam, it is a staple in our everyday wines, they also have a higher end wine called Goat Roti. I have always enjoyed Bonnydoon Wines and I love the stories on their labels. Le Cigar Volant is a favorite.

                                      2. w
                                        wildfire Feb 14, 2008 07:12 AM

                                        If you are worried about the taste, there are a few places online where you can design the wine bottle labels. You could go buy a lot of wine that you know your brother likes and put your own rediculous labels on to them. Otherwise, I'd have to agree with the Martinelli "Jackass Hill" zinfandel.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: wildfire
                                          winepunkguy Feb 14, 2008 01:52 PM

                                          Four Vines "The Peasant",
                                          Also love Owen Roe's Sinister Hand,
                                          Pink Fiddle,
                                          Frick wines have fun labels,
                                          Mischief and Mayhem from Burgundy
                                          I don't think of these as gimmicky at all, just good wine producers who are not stuffy. Have fun searching an let's make enjoying wine fun.

                                        2. j
                                          jackbauer Feb 15, 2008 11:37 AM

                                          On another thread about tasty wines under $15, I mentiond Rex Goliath Original 47 Pound Rooster. The pinot noir received I think 91 or 92 points from Wine Spectator. It only costs about 8 bucks and is pretty damn respectable for the price, in my opinion.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: jackbauer
                                            Frodnesor Feb 15, 2008 12:16 PM

                                            Not that ratings points are the be all, but there's no Rex Goliath wine that's gotten a 91 or 92 point review from Wine Spectator. The only one reviewed in WS is a non-vintage merlot reviewed in 2003 which got 84 points.

                                            1. re: Frodnesor
                                              Icantread Feb 15, 2008 01:04 PM

                                              I had one of their merlots once and was a whole deal better than a few of those 85 rated wines I've tried. That being said, I don't think you always get the same wine at that price point. (new batches when current vintage finishes)

                                          2. Icantread Feb 18, 2008 07:28 AM

                                            I'm surprised no one here has mentioned the Scholium Project. Abe Schoener has some interesting wines and if your brother does a little research on the bottles, there's usually a story (a little superficial often) behind the name. He grows his grapes in less standard areas and has some really nice wines. I think you can get the Naucratis for 20 something dollars, though the others can cost a pretty penny. I'm a fan of his, though some people are not so intrigued by his wines.

                                            1. goodhealthgourmet Feb 25, 2008 08:00 PM

                                              don't know if it''s already been mentioned, but i just saw an ad in cooking light magazine for "gnarly head" wine. first i've heard of it.


                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                cleopatra999 Feb 26, 2008 10:37 AM

                                                costco up here in the north carries Gnarly Head, I have found a good wine for the price.

                                              2. h
                                                HillJ Feb 29, 2008 05:18 PM

                                                Vampire (red or white) usually avail around Halloween
                                                actually the red made a nice sangria.
                                                the white was dull. Label is cool tho.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                  AnneInMpls Feb 29, 2008 09:13 PM

                                                  For scary-name wine, go for d'Arenburg Dead Arm Shiraz. It's really good, but it's not cheap. I bought the 2002 for $55 back in 2004. (I haven't been able to afford it since.)


                                                  1. re: AnneInMpls
                                                    HillJ Mar 1, 2008 05:30 AM

                                                    Anne, It appears $55 was something of a deal...it's higher now. But I'm not one to spend as much on an untried wine, no matter how inviting the label or "kitch" collectible. Did you enjoy it? Can you describe it? Vampire red is a table wine *suitable enuf for a nice sangria) but hardly a "must by."

                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                      moh Mar 1, 2008 07:49 AM

                                                      D'Arenburg wines are very good, and the Dead Arm Shiraz is a lovely example of a balanced wine as far as Australian Shiraz go. It has loads of fruit, and big tannins, but the times I have had a chance to drink it, it has always been very balanced, and almost elegant. It is still a big new world shiraz, don't get me wrong. But it isn't just another big wine that hits you between the eyes. It is more expensive now.

                                                      1. re: moh
                                                        HillJ Mar 1, 2008 08:49 AM

                                                        moh, thank you for the detailed exp. with Dead Arm. Exactly what I was looking for. Anne, I'm going to place it on my "cellar" list. I hope I get an opp to try it.

                                                        1. re: moh
                                                          AnneInMpls Mar 1, 2008 10:14 AM

                                                          Moh, you said it much better than I could. My tasting notes for the Dead Arm '02 just say "yum!"


                                                  2. m
                                                    mengathon Mar 1, 2008 11:40 AM

                                                    Betts and Scholl makes a couple of Australian grenache, Chronique and O.G, especially good if your brother is a fan of old school hip hop.

                                                    I've not had their Australian wines, but their Rhône Hermitage is very good.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: mengathon
                                                      Frodnesor Mar 1, 2008 12:07 PM

                                                      The "base" grenache from Betts & Scholl (now called the "O.G." - "Original Grenache", not "Original Gangsta") is a very nice wine for under $30. I haven't tried the Chronique.

                                                      I thought the Hermitage was a very nice wine but overpriced. For those who don't know, it is sourced from Jean-Louis Chave's Hermitage parcels. Compare to a real Chave Hermitage it's probably a relative bargain at around $60, and it was a nice syrah, but from those I know who have had both, it just ain't a Chave Hermitage.

                                                      1. re: Frodnesor
                                                        mengathon Mar 1, 2008 03:00 PM

                                                        Yeah, I agree. As a $60 Hermitage, it's pretty good value. As a $60 syrah, I think one can do better.

                                                        I do plan on trying the O.G. soon. The non-use of new oak in Aussie wines always makes me take notice.

                                                        1. re: mengathon
                                                          Walla2WineWoman Mar 2, 2008 09:52 AM

                                                          Walldeaux Smithie

                                                          1. re: Walla2WineWoman
                                                            zin1953 Mar 2, 2008 10:25 AM

                                                            Didn't Marty Clubb make a "Walla Voila" at L'Ecole?

                                                            1. re: zin1953
                                                              Walla2WineWoman Mar 2, 2008 10:35 AM

                                                              Yup, Walla Voila - a Chenin Blanc. Good wine and a good price. (I use to work for Marty)

                                                              1. re: Walla2WineWoman
                                                                zin1953 Mar 2, 2008 12:13 PM

                                                                I sold Marty's wines in California for years when I was with AIW.

                                                            2. re: Walla2WineWoman
                                                              olivethegreat Mar 2, 2008 01:13 PM

                                                              I have a bottle of this and look forward to trying soon!

                                                      2. o
                                                        olivethegreat Mar 2, 2008 11:26 AM

                                                        Vinum Cellars has some good ones: Chard-No-Way Chenin Blanc, and PETS Petite Sirah are both good (not fancy).

                                                        Also like the Dom Noblaie Les Chiens-Chiens Cab Franc, with a cool label featuring two dogs (but not in a cheesy, Yellowtail kind of way).

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: olivethegreat
                                                          Walla2WineWoman Mar 2, 2008 11:41 AM

                                                          >>Dom Noblaie Les Chiens-Chiens Cab Franc

                                                          I love that label and have been tempted to buy it just because of it. I found it at www.domaine547.com. Domaine is such a great online wine shop.

                                                          1. re: olivethegreat
                                                            zin1953 Mar 2, 2008 12:13 PM

                                                            Vinum's is actually "CNW" which stands for Chard No Way . . . I once suggested, for their red wine counterpart, that they label it MER-NO -- but they didn't like the idea. :(((

                                                          2. Icantread Mar 3, 2008 08:30 AM

                                                            I found a chardonnay from some "French" winery labelled Chateau de Tourrettes at Whole Foods this past weekend, and I have to say that for $7 i was very very impressed.

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