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Tim's Ravings

Posted by Tim Stevens on

Wine Bottles

Huntington Estate Cellar

I want to “talk” about wine bottles. Thrilling I know. Why? They are no more or less than a means to get wine to you, and for you to store it. Well exactly. Confused? Bear with me for just a minute longer.

A recent conversation with a wine distributor triggered this column; the gentleman in question had tried our 09 Reserve Shiraz, loved it and wanted to sell it. The answer of course was thanks but no thanks - we deal direct with our customers. What prompted this lovely chat we’re having now was his bewilderment that we package such a premium wine in such an “ordinary” bottle, because our choice of bottle is no accident, and actually says a lot about Huntington Estate Wines.

There are many benefits to our "lean and green” lightweight claret bottle, not least environmental. At 330g it is less than half the weight of the fanciest alternatives which are taller and tricked up to look bigger and feel heavier with a thick base and walls, and a deep punt. At our modest boutique winery, that's a reduction of over 50T of glass per annum. Imagine the savings for the industry as a whole (my guestimate is around 350,000T of glass annually). Then there are the associated reductions in cardboard for boxes, fuel and freight, storage, complexity and waste. But mainly we choose our bottle to save cost. Sounds unromantic doesn't it, but before I turn you off completely, let me explain further.

I believe in substance over style. It’s what the wine smells and tastes like that matters over everything else.

We save about $3 per bottle on packaging (glass, closure, label & carton), and I think we spend that $3 wisely on the wine itself. In the vineyard we spend extra to keep yields low and fruit quality up. In the winery we spend extra on things like the best oak barrels and labour intensive techniques. Some goes to support our low prices and retain our reputation for outstanding value for money, and a little bit goes into the bank allowing this small family business to survive a tough time in a tough industry. In short, the $3 saving on packaging makes each bottle of wine smell and taste better.

Multinationals spend billions of dollars understanding and exploiting semiotics – designing sensory cues in product and packaging that trigger certain perceptions for the consumer. A gorgeous, heavy weight bottle can of course impact quality perception, but because we sell direct, we don’t compete in the beauty parade that is a bottle shop shelf which allows for a more rational discourse with our customers.

Anyway, I’m deducing from your buying habits that you already look beyond our perfectly serviceable bottle to the quality of the wine, and for that I raise my glass of 2009 Special Reserve Shiraz to you and will let my wine speak for itself.


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