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Feel free to judge these bottles by their covers: running the gamut in price and aesthetics alike, each wine has memorable flavor to match its eye-catching label (or lack thereof)
Orin Swift Mercury Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Napa Valley, California), $89: This artistically bottled wine is distinctive for the fact that it has no label, but rather a coin embedded in the bottle. Named for the liberty dimes the winemaker collected as a child, the cabernet sauvignon showcases what the winery believes to be the best grapes from its finest vineyards in Napa. Notes of dark chocolate and toasted oak are complemented by mature tannins and balanced acidity.
Nora Albariño 2009 (Rias Baixas, Spain), $16: Much like its label, this medium-bodied white wine is big and bright. Crisp tropical fruits, strong acidity, and a flinty minerality make up the palate with a light fizz on the finish. Most fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, but a small amount of grapes are aged in French oak, smoothing out the tartness of the albariño varietal.
Michael David Petite Petit 2008 (Lodi, California), $19: Hardly a “small” sip, the elephants on this label are indicative of the full-bodied flavors inside. This blend of petite syrah with some petite verdot grapes has a beautiful dark purple hue and jammy fruits like plum and blackberry on the palate. Drink it now or within the next six years.
Michele Chiarlo La Court Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2004 (Nizza, Italy), $48: Artist Giancarlo Ferraris, who created this bottle’s fanciful label, also played a large part in transforming the Chiarlo winery into the atelier it is today. Rich and balanced from months spent in French oak barrels, the red wine boasts flavors of maraschino cherries, coffee, and wild berries. It can be aged for up to 12 years or enjoyed now—try pairing with a dish that features wild truffles.
Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie 2006 (Corbieres, France), $19: This bottles’s rustic label hints at Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie’s rich history. It was founded during the reign of King Louis XIV nearly 400 years ago and remains from one of the first Roman wineries have been found on-site. This Rhône wine is certified organic with concentrated flavors of violets and spices contributing to the well-balanced blend that should be sipped this year alongside gamey foods.