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Lise Ciolino
June 15, 2012 | Packaging | Lise Ciolino

All you need to know about Wine Bottles

[originally published in 2012, updated in 2016]

All you need to know about wine bottles, or perhaps more than you ever wanted to know about wine bottles! Did you notice anything different about our Montemaggiore 2010 red wines as compared to those from 2009? If so, kudos to you, since we changed both the shape and color of our wine bottles in order to better reflect our winemaking, environmental, and aesthetic ideals. We've also seized this opportunity to make several subtle but notable changes to our label.

Bottle shape typically reflects regional affinity

In Europe, wineries diligently follow the traditions of their region in terms of wine bottle shape.

  • Bordeaux: straight sides and tall shoulders
  • Burgundy: gently sloping shoulders and a wider girth
  • Rhône: similar to Burgundy, but a bit skinnier
  • Champagne: sloping shoulders, thick glass, and a deep punt
  • Alsace: skinnier and taller, with very gently sloping shoulders

In America, wineries are very casual about choosing their wine bottle—and in Montemaggiore's case, they may even change their minds!

When we first considered the bottle choices for Montemaggiore wines, we were shocked and overwhelmed by the plethora of options—along with the almost comical eloquence of the glass salespeople describing the subtle differences amongst the 50+ choices of any single style. Given that we made only two wines at the time, our major decision was whether to utilize a Bordeaux-style bottle (as would be natural for our Cabernet-dominated wine) or a Rhône-style (as would be natural for our Syrah-dominated wine). Given our tiny production levels, we wanted to just use a single bottle for both wines. So we decided on the Bordeaux bottle for no great reason other than to optimize for our more expensive wine. We opted for the antique green color because that was what "everybody" bottled in.

As time went on, our wine portfolio expanded to include Rosé, 3Divas, and Syrafina. From a tradition standpoint, one would expect all three of these wines to be in a Rhône-style bottle with its sloping shoulders. To our delight, many of you expressed surprise that the Montemaggiore Syrah—our flagship wine—was not in a Rhône-style bottle. So we've listened, and we've realized we can no longer live with the incongruity between our Rhône-style wines and our bottle shape. Thus as we move forward all our wines will in a Rhône bottle, starting with the 2011 Rose and 3Divas, and soon to be followed by all the 2010 reds.

Color is mostly an aesthetic choice

For those of you who are really detail-oriented, you will also notice that our new bottles are lighter in color. While most red wine is bottled in green glass, each manufacturer typically has four or five different greens to choose from. We recently changed our bottle color from Antique Green to Dead Leaf Green (isn't that an awful name?) for the simple reason that we liked the aesthetics. Take a look at the 3Divas in our new glass—it positively glows!

Subtle but notable changes to the Montemaggiore packaging

One detail you will never see but perhaps can appreciate, is that our new wine bottles were made right here in California. This means less travel from the glass foundry to Montemaggiore, and supports jobs close to home. These bottles are just as lightweight as our prior bottles (and much lighter than our original bottles) which is best for our environment and pocketbook (especially when shipping wine to you). People used to say, "the heavier the bottle, the better the wine", but today bottle weight says more about the environmental consciousness of winery than the quality of the wine.

While changing wine bottles, we took the opportunity to alter two aspects of the labels: we've added QR codes and we've modified the top edge. Starting with the 2011 3Divas and Rose along with the 2010 Syrah and Nobile, each back label will have a QR (quick response) code. If you are not familiar with these strange-looking digital patterns, your smart phone can scan them to bring up information on a web page—in our case, it gives you a detailed description of that specific wine. So the next time you take a bottle of Montemaggiore wine out of your cellar, you can easily access information about the particular growing season, vinification, and winemaker's thoughts—right at your fingertips. The second label change involves the deckled top edge, which now reflects the exact ridgeline of the Mayacamas Mountains seen from our vineyard, with the two prominent mountains being Geyser Peak and Mt. St. Helena. Every time you open a bottle of Montemaggiore wine, you'll have an extra reminder of our mountainside vineyards and gorgeous views.


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