Blue Nun wine reinvented itself a few years ago — I wrote about it in a chapter in Wine Wars called “The Curse of the Blue Nun.” It stopped being that rather mediocre sweetish German white wine that some of us remember from the 1970s (along with Matteus Rosé) and became something a bit different.
The classic Blue Nun white wine got better. It became Riesling, not a Liebfraumilch blend, for example. And the brand became more global, with Blue Nun wines in many different varieties (Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, Rosé) sourced from several countries. There was an alcohol-free “lite” Blue Nun and a bubbly wine with tiny sparkly, floaty golden bits to brighten your day.
Blue Nun became a brand with the same sort of broad portfolio of wines that, say, Barefoot Cellars offers. This approach is very successful in today’s market and, as the promotional video above indicates, Blue Nun is back (if it ever really went away).
One key to the transformation was the Blue Nun herself. She was perhaps the one constant. Marketers saw the gentle, friendly nun on the label as a key marketing tool — memorable and and maybe especially appealing to women, who are a target market.
More Than Skin Deep
I was prowling the Wine Wall recently and I noticed that Blue Nun has had a makeover — and it’s more than just skin deep! The surface change is significant, however. The bottle is still blue, of course (but not for all the varieties – see images here). But the blue nun is now only a shadow of her former self — a small golden cameo medallion.
The gold highlights a smaller gold seal that I thought must be a wine competition award of some sort (all the Barefoot bottles feature them), but turns out to be a seal of “Sichel Superior Vinification.” Good to know!
I guess the sleek modern look and gold accents must now be seen as a more powerful image than the kindly nun. But the change goes deeper than the label.
I was puzzled to see “Rivaner” on the label. “Now made from the classic Rivaner grape, it has more balance, softness and depth of fruit flavor.” That’s what it says on the back. More than Riesling? Really?
I wasn’t sure that I’d ever had a Rivaner wine before, so I rushed home to check out my copy of Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine:
Rivaner: another name for müller-thurgau, used in Luxembourg, where it is the most planted grape variety, and, increasingly, elsewhere. Rivaner sounds more appetizing.
And I suppose it does sound more appealing — or maybe just easier for a novice to pronounce. Am I the only wine veteran who didn’t know that Müller-Thurgau is now Rivaner?
Blue Nun Delicate is another interesting innovation. With just 5.5% alcohol by volume, it rides the Moscato-powered low alcohol wave (just fyi the Rivaner is only 10% abv).