Take a walk in a vineyard, and you’ll often be joined by the winery’s most loyal fan — the vineyard dog.
The link between dog and winery has even been the subject of several books, including a wonderful photo collection titled “Winery Dogs.” To honor the pups that work and play in the vineyard, many wineries incorporate the doggie theme into the label.
Take Dog Point Vineyard, for example. This estate-grown, cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc from the South Island of New Zealand nods to the sheep-herding dogs of European settlers. Having lost their way a bit, some of the dogs formed wild packs and took shelter in the rocky nooks of what’s now referred to as Dog Point.
In the hot growing region of Jumilla, Spain, a jolly-looking Jack Russell terrier is featured on a festive label called Mad Dogs & Englishmen. The whimsical brainchild of William Long, the wine is a blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Monastrell (a local grape). In Long’s words: “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the scorching sun of the region.”
California’s Rosenblum Cellars pays tribute to Rhône-styled wines and veterinarian-founder Kent Rosenblum’s passion for animals with Chateau La Paws. In honor of man’s best friend, Rosenblum’s Côte du Bone puts a playful twist on Côte de Beaune. And a portion of the proceeds from the wine benefits Paws with a Cause, a nonprofit dedicated to training assistance-dogs for people with disabilities.
Kendall-Jackson also makes a dog-inspired line called Dog House. Dubbed “the wine that gives back,” 50 cents on each bottle supports Guide Dogs for the Blind. The wines include Charlie’s Chard, Checkers’ Cab and Maxie’s Merlot.
Fun critter names make it easy to remember (especially when ordering a wine from an unfamiliar region). And with a pooch on the bottle, it’s the perfect touch (or is it touchdown?) for your next Browns tailgate. So start thinking football and uncork a few dog-labeled wines for next Sunday’s game.
2005 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($20): Zesty with lots of classic aromas such as citrus and tropical fruits. Medium bodied, the wine is crisp in acidity and medium alcohol. Great wine for an end-of-season clambake.
2005 Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Shiraz, Cabernet, Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain ($10): Grown in a hot climate, this wine is rich and bold with a good dose of alcohol (14 percent). Ripe raspberry, cherry and hint of pepper aroma with juicy tannins make it a great partner for fall dishes.
2005 Château La Paws Côte du Bone Blanc, California ($16): A full-bodied blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne with lots of peach, pear and mango aromas and a hint of vanilla spice making it great for game time or a clambake.
2005 Château La Paws Cote du Bone Roan ($16): A southern Rhône-styled blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Mouvedre and Carigane. Loads of cherries, strawberries and a hint of smoked bacon give the wine a bold approach and lasting finish. Think burgers on the grill.
2003 Dog House Maxie’s Merlot, California ($10): Black cherry, licorice and boysenberry are balanced by a hint of toast and medium-ripe tannins. Easy to drink and enjoy, a value wine that definitely gives back.
2005 Dog House Charlie’s Chard, California ($10): Lots of lemon and broad apple aromas supported by butterscotch and vanilla. Crisp acidity and mouth-warming alcohol provides a medium finish. Try a glass with grilled salmon.