Much like a good wine, tastes develop over time. Fashions, fancies and gimmicks come and go, and can be extremely succesful for a time, but longevity in the wine trade is usually achieved through consistency. This, of course, applies to the wine itself, but also to how well people can recognise it.
We've had some wines (and I won't name names) that have undergone a radical facelift to reenergise the brand but just end up leaving people cold. That's not to say that labels shouldn't change, but adaptation is often a better course of action.
With the influx of some lovely aged Rioja at the end of last year we've had the opportunity to compare wines, and their labels, from the early 90s with their more recent counterparts. Using the example of Bodegas Beronia, a particular favourite of mine, it's interesting to see the development of the label over 22 years.
The 1994 label is very classic Rioja, with prominence given to the Bodega, the region, the style (Reserva) and the year. A minimalist colour swatch with an off-white background, navy blue lettering and gold elaborations, such as the picture of the bodega, is classy yet understated. 22 years later and the central themes endure. The Bodega name remains at the forefront with slightly updated typography but the colours have been inverted to provide a more contemporary look, which it acheives. It's essentially a modern take on their historic label.
It is not a great suprise to read on the back label that Beronia is part of the Gonzalaz Byass group, as they have form in this regard. They recently revamped their Sherry labels having dug out some bottles from yesteryear. It's nice when things come full circle.
As for the wine itself, the '94 has held up beautifully. There is still plenty of fruit in the glass, predominantly red cherry, which leads through to an elegant finish with sweet cinnamon and silky cocoa. By contrast, the voluptuous 2006 'Dos Maderas' (meaning 'two woods') balances excellent fruit concentration with sweet clove notes from French oak and vanilla imparted from the American. Youthful, vibrant yet velvety.