I am old enough to lament the passing of long-playing vinyl records, and find some comfort in their (if only limited) revival. While conceding newer technologies have given greater ease of playing and superior sound quality, I struggle to get excited about the packaging.

I loved the larger-format sleeve or jacket with photos and information on who played what, where, the complete lyrics, who bought the lunches and the name of the studio cat. In short, any trivia related to the recording was always of interest. CD packaging is not doing it for me - something has been lost. So when it comes to wine, how important are labels?

Very, I suspect, especially if a new winery is trying to gain some traction. Cast your eye along the ever-increasing aisles and see what takes your fancy. Unless you really know what you're looking for - and especially the producer's name - you're likely to reach for something attractive that catches your eye. It's called an impulse buy and entire advertising empires have been founded on their ability to have products leap off the shelf and into your clutches.

While an appealing label is no guarantee of the quality in the bottle, it's obviously important enough when it comes to marketing.


Being a wine obsessive, I am always happy to pore over any back label that may have information regarding the wine-making process or details about the winery itself, but ultimately it's the front label that carries the day.

Best face forward is the maxim and, with this in mind, the long-established and revered Babich family have launched new packaging to celebrate 95 years of winemaking. The 2011 vintage heralds what has been described as a more "classic-modern", family-based label design.

It doesn't matter how long you've been around and what awards and loyal following you may have garnered, in today's competitive market you need to keep it fresh, modern, relevant and appealing. Cute animals or photos of a great-great grand-
father who established the vineyard with his bare hands at the turn of the century probably won't turn heads anymore.

Over the years many long established producers have tweaked their packaging or even made radical changes. It's an expensive exercise but obviously worth the effort.

Ultimately, as always, it's what is inside that counts. Fortunately, Babich get that right too.

2011 Babich Family Estates Viognier, $25
Hawkes Bay grapes producing a wine that is becoming a pleasant alternative to chardonnay or pinot gris, it has peach and apricot flavours with a pleasant creamy wash. Try it with spicy aromatic dishes.

2011 Babich Family Estates Gruner Veltliner, $25
Organically grown grapes from Marlborough are the base of this wine which is a huge favourite in Austria and developing a following here. Tending dry, this medium-bodied white wine has strong floral notes with lemon, spice and musky flavours.