Five brilliant failures from the creator of Baileys

Red Chardonnay

This image from ‘That S*it Will Never Sell!’ shows a label design commissioned by Gluckman, which he displayed in a mock-up magazine article, supposedly in a publication called World Wine. It says in the bottom right hand corner, ‘How to take a radical idea and bring it to life in an afternoon’

Having worked on the hugely successful IDV wine brand Le Piat d’Or, which was introduced to the UK in 1974 with packaging inspired by Benson & Hedges cigarettes, 20 years later David Gluckman was involved in another wine branding brainstorm, although this time, the brilliant idea never went mainstream.

After leafing through a document detailing US varietal wine regulations in the early 90s, Gluckman’s attention was piqued by a line noting, ‘For bottles labelled varietal, at least 75% of the wine therein must be of that varietal’.

Gluckman was inspired by the idea of playing with the other 25%. And, because this was at the height of demand for Chardonnay, he pondered, what if you blend 25% of a red wine like Pinot Noir to the white grape? You would get red Chardonnay…

He writes, “Imagine someone walking along the red wine aisle in a supermarket and seeing the word Chardonnay writ large on a red wine bottle. I was in love with the thought.”

Gluckman continues, “I had two visions for red Chardonnay: the first was the commercial vision. Create a red Chardonnay which, if you tasted it with your eyes closed, you would be convinced it was a white Chardonnay.

“The second was a potential ego trip – for the wine makers: this would be a sophisticated blend of Chardonnay with red wine, or with added red skins, that would win someone an award for innovation. They had the opportunity to create an entirely new variety.”

Although he says that the wine makers were “only moderately interested in the idea”, two wines were produced from brands in the IDV stable, both based on a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir: one from Sterling Vineyards and the other from BV (Beaulieu Vineyards).

Admitting that both have now vanished from sight, he concludes, “I still think red Chardonnay is a good idea”.

Sterling Vineyards tried the concept, calling it Chardonnay Noir. Picture source: ‘That S*it Will Never Sell!’

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