Changing your name — regardless of the product — is the oldest marketing trick in the book. The hope, of course, is that customers will look at it differently and maybe, just maybe, buy it because its new. But while people might be willing to give the new name a try just because it is new, it rarely is enough to sustain the product if it isn’t any good.
So when I saw that Twisted Tree Vineyards from Osoyoos had changed their name to “Moon Curser”, I was hesitant to say the least. In its former incarnation, I had enjoyed a couple of their wines — particularly the red wine blend Six Vines a year ago — as well as the fact that they were making some relatively obscure white Rhone varietals. So why change?
Well, the new name and label hopefully wasn’t the reason. The darkened images of wolves etched onto the dark glass are strange and hard to discern. They might appeal to abstract artists, but that is about it.
But when I tasted three of the new wines, well…that was a different story!
The 2009 Syrah was the first and it is gorgeous. Dark red, with classic French-style Syrah aromas of pepper and black cherries, no oak in sight, but really ripe — but not jammy — black fruit. Medium body with ripe tannins almost hidden underneath the fruit, it has potential to develop over the next few years. And at $24.95, it is very competitively priced compared to other BC Syrahs. Unfortunately, it is sold out at the winery, although may still be at some VQA stores.
Just as good — and maybe better given the style — is the 2009 Border Vines. This new incarnation of the Six Vines wine is a Bordeaux blend, but boy has the style changed — for the better! Instead of leaning towards herbal and woody, there is much more ripe cherry/black currant fruit. While not completely California in approach, it is a really nice balance between that and France and – like the Syrah — has room to develop. It also is $24.95, which definitely puts it in value territory given how much Cabernet blends are in BC.
The final wine I tasted was the 2009 Tempranillo. Interestingly, I tasted Twisted Tree’s 2008 the year before up in Osoyoos and thought it was way too tannic for the amount of fruit in the wine. This version is much better, with more emphasis — again — on fruit, which is earthy and ripe. It is lighter than the other two reds and, at $29.99, more expensive, so I can’t say it is a bargain. But it is a good expression of this Spanish grape and certainly worth trying.
There are other wines as well that I didn’t try, including a high end Dead of Night ($38), a Merlot (sold out) and whites such as a Chardonnay ($22), Viognier ($22) and a Rhone mix called Afraid of the Dark (sold out). Judging by the “sold out” moniker, at least some of these are good as well.
So a refreshing discovery when it comes to the name change game. The lesson learned is don’t just change your name, change your style. And if that results in better wine, then the change is definitely for the better!