Black Shadow was traditionally our Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel label, created to accompany Tria, which belonged to a now-defunct partner company. Early in the game Mira Luna became our Burgundian varietals label, Black Shadow keeping Syrah and Zinfandel duty. Since much of the label design work was originally done by said partner, though we liked the Black Shadow name, we knew we had gotten the short end of the label art stick. But, true to our mission, we remained proud of what we put in the bottle, as evidenced by my following blog from November 2009…
Black Shadow is traditionally our own Syrah and Zinfandel label
Philip Zorn and Brent Shortridge. If this wine were the model for the Aussies, Shiraz would still be the current vin du jour!
Mother Nature’s magnificent 2007 Central Coast fruit, fermented in stainless steel, malolactic completed in French oak (20% new), and barrel aged one year prior to bottling. Dark and dense while complex and beautifully balanced. Sleek and supple in the mouth. Blueberry, blackberry and pepper flavors, over vanilla and all spice, due to nicely integrated oak. A touch of minerals present, just enough to remind you that this is an agricultural product. Other tasters identified dried black cherry, plum, molasses, tobacco and leather – perfect barbecue wine. This will become the thinking person’s house red for the duration.
The wine went on to earn a silver, highly recommended, best buy at the 2009 World Wine Championships.
As Geerlings & Wade and Winetasting.com further distanced ourselves from that bankrupt partner company, we asked creative director Dave Griffin to re-do our weaker label designs in the same sequence that we were preparing the next wines to bottle. For those of you that do not know, Dave is the Will Elder to my Harvey Kurtzman in our bite-the-wine-industry-hand-that-feeds-us comic strip http://www.corkedthecomic.com, episode 21 being the most recent installment.
Here are designs we did not use, with Dave’s notes on what he was striving for with each. Please keep in mind he was designing for Zinfandel too, traditionally in a Bordeaux bottle. ”This was originally designed for a Bordeaux bottle, the first early design incorporated the shadow, which seemed to be the obvious first step in redesign since that’s what it’s called. I liked the idea of having a dramatic, elongated shadow and started off using it on the word Black. It had a noirish feel to it which I liked (We’re currently working on a label/wine with homage to film noir, so stay tuned.)
The second version I put the shadow under the word shadow which seemed to work better.
The third version I decided to add color so I kept the some of the brand identity of the old design and added the purple (a little lighter purple to make the shadow pop more.) That eventually transformed into the final Syrah design. Still keeping that elongated shadow but this time a little more subtle by changing the shape of the purple block. I still kept the effect I wanted, which was to create a 3-D effect on the word shadow.”
I voted for the new, current design because it looks great on either a dark green Burgundy or Bordeaux bottle full of deep red wine. 2) Finally, a shadow effect on a label with “shadow” in the name! 3) I also like the way the black on purple shadow expands to the far right, as most Americans read left-to-right.
Here’s my step-by-step notes on the wine in the bottle with the newly designed label, CAL919, $14.99 06 Black Shadow, North Coast Syrah, California...
January 22, 2010
Not quite opaque purple to garnet. Nailed the nose! Pepper, graphite, smoke and a cooked bacon hint. First impression is one-dimensional it’s so balanced and integrated – sleek nose flavors plus a jammy blackberry element.
Rejected higher rs blend variation:
Not quite opaque purple to garnet. Missing what makes the previous Syrah special, floral, homogenized, soft, round. Really is one-dimensional, gone from varietal to soft, round jug wine – lost the character.
May 20, 2010 QC tasting right after bottling:
Almost opaque garnet to brick. Meaty/bacon, graphite, smoke & pepper over a core of jammy blackberry fruit. Sleek & supple, with adequate tannins, tastes just like it smells – accessible to all – domestic, Rhone & OZ Syrah fans. Look forward to the 2 weeks in bottle QC tasting!
May 28, 2010 final QC tasting - stabilization:
$14.99 06 Black Shadow, North Coast Syrah is OK to turn on, put in both warehouses and offer to our clients. We nailed this with both the wine, which over-delivers, and the re-designed label.
As you can see, we strove to make this new wine in the bottle worthy of the new label on the bottle.