Wine blogging Wednesday: Wacky Wine Names

Not so much a “Wacky Wine Name” but rather a Wine with a Wacky Tale.

The 1988 Clos Pegase Napa Valley Hommage was the winery’s high-end, reserve Cabernet. Each vintage owner Jan Shrem chooses a painting from his enormous and amazing collection of modern art and slaps it on the label. Well, when he slapped this label on his wine, the BATF slapped him back.

The BATF told Jan that the wine label was “obscene”. Now keep in mind the art on this particular wine was ‘Nu Chamarre” or “Bedecked Nude”, created by the great Jean Dubuffet. That didn’t matter to the BATF. The jewels were in plain sight and that was a “no no”, regardless of the fame of the artist or the work.

At the time I was handling Close Pegase’s public relations. When the BATF told us the label had been denied approval for its obscenity, well, we almost flew to Washington to give each and every member of the BATF staff a kiss on the mouth. Was there anything they could have done to give us more publicity?

In the end, Jan actually “castrated” the label by reprinting it, but cutting it off just above the you-know-what. We released the wine and then we sent off a press release to everyone with an address and a typewriter. To this day, that press release remains the only time I’ve ever used the word “castrated” in a headline. Probably in a story or press release for that matter.

Finally, in 1993, the BATF approved use of the full artwork for a wine label. Clos Pegase released a 1998 Cabernet with the approved label.

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