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Column: How does poetry on the label help sell wine?

Australian wines are known for using labels to lure customers to buy wine

Australian wines are known for using labels, which lure the consumer into buying wine. If you’re a wine enthusiast, you probably check out a review to see if critics have awarded it 90 points or higher. Or you choose a bottle because you’ve had it before or wine savvy friends have recommended it.

But who might buy a wine called Clancy’s Red Blend ($17.99 at BCLStores)? Those who enjoy blended wines! The Red Blend includes Australia’s three iconic reds: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, plus Merlot. And the grapes come from Australia’s premium red wine region, the Barossa Valley of South Australia, the Oz version of California’s Napa Valley.

Another reason to purchase a bottle of Clancy is that it’s produced by Peter Lehmann Wines. Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine Producers rates Peter Lehmann as “excellent.”

Veteran Aussie Wine Critic, James Halliday writes, “Peter Lehmann has continued to flourish, making wines from all the major varieties at multiple price points, the common link being over-delivery against expectations.” Three of their flagship wines are Stonewell Shiraz, Wigan Riesling and Margaret Semillon.

Lehmann, is revered for his major contribution to the Australian wine industry. He is held in high esteem in the Barossa for many reasons, especially for a remarkable gamble to save Barossa grape growers. This led to Lehmann opening his own winery in 1978, which became Peter Lehmann Wines in 1982. Peter Lehmann died in 2013 but his legacy of loyalty, innovation, and value for money continues to live on though the winery.

One of his everyday drinking wines is Clancy’s red, the one with poetry on the label. Australians know that Clancy is the protagonist immortalized in Banjo Paterson’s “Clancy, of the Overflow.” Paterson also penned “Waltzing Matilda.” While Canadians are more familiar with Matilda, Clancy is his endearing ode to all that is good and true, living on the land.

Peter Lehmann honoured Clancy’s legend in 1998 with a classic Australian blend that is as true to the land as Clancy. Like the loyal drover Clancy, this red liquid poetry always delivers and in turn has become legendary in its own right.

Clancy of the Overflow (abridged) by Banjo Paterson

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
ust “on spec”, addressed as follows, “Clancy, of The Overflow.”

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
“Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.”

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving “down the Cooper” where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all

And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy, 
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go, 
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and journal
But I doubt he’d suit the office, “Clancy, of the Overflow.”

Even if Paterson’s poetry doesn’t draw you to this everyday affordable red, once you taste it you will be a fan. The aroma exudes cherry, blackberry, plum, licorice, and spice. The Clancy is rich and smooth with vanilla, cassis, blueberry, and plums.

There’s also some earthiness from the Barossa’s red soil and a ripe port-like finish. I’ve been enjoying Clancy’s Red for decades and it over delivers for the price.

Serve with some Italian Steveston pizza, or go fancy with a rack of lamb on the barbie. And play some John Williamson Aussie Bush music (Raining on the Rock, True Blue, Aussie Balladeer, or Home Among the Gumtrees), tunes that Clancy of the Overflow would approve of!