It all started with a hare-brained (bad pun) idea of making a bit of pét-nat (pétillant naturel). Why pét-nat? Here’s the story.
Tim Wildman is a British-born Master of Wine (MW) who runs his own portfolio wine business involving travel, education and film. Tim became an MW in 2008 with a dissertation on Australian wine, which is his professional specialty. He was awarded the Robert Mondavi Memorial prize for the highest score in Theory and his dissertation achieved the highest pass mark in his year. One of his many interests/businesses is called the James Busby Travel Company, one that takes a B2B approach bringing business minded wine folks from around the globe down to really experience Australia. His “hype sessions” are near legendary, bringing back changed buyers that officially becomes disciples Tim and Australian wine. It was time spent on one of these trips that gave Tim the idea of making wine, and more importantly pét-nat, because he wanted to pick the grapes, make the wine and bottle the wine, all while on a month long trip down under. He also produced pét-nat because a number of producers of whom Tim holds in the highest regard were concerned about the growth of these new “somm” driven wines with rented equipment, purchased grapes and made up labels. Tim loves free market enterprise but respected these growers/producers with 100+ year business plans and didn’t want to compete against them…hence pét-nat.
Basically it looked like this:
Fly to Australia, make a wine on a budget, with a deadline, get on a plane back to England – GO!
2014 was the inaugural vintage and he knew exactly what he wanted to start with, juicy Grenache from Riverland. The vineyard contract, winemaking, bottle sourcing, etc. was the easy part. It was coming up with a name that was driving him mad! He went through countless names that all got his head to nod, then eventually shake.
“Naming a wine is fricking hard to do! Honestly, if it was a kid it wouldn’t have been named until it’s 18th birthday. There follows below just some of the many ideas and images that were suggested and rejected along the way. I’m not saying the final name is perfect, but its a whole lot better than some of these!” said Tim.
What were some of these names? How about Tiger Milk (Belle and Sebastian’s debut album name), Kitten Kong, Fireworks Fizz, Punk Pink, Bob’s Back Block Blend, and other incomplete marketing thoughts. He had settled on a name, ‘Amuse Bouche,’ but needed imagery. Thankfully he was saved from making a catastrophic mistake by driving through the Fitzroy neighborhood of Melbourne and spotting a mural (read, artistic graffiti) with a rabbit riding in a spaceship…
Tim says it best:
“The first thing that struck me was, wow, how much fun is that rabbit having? Flying in a fucking spaceship laughing her big bunny ears off. So, on returning to base camp in the Adelaide Hills I spent a few nights on the couch playing with fonts and names while watching Guardians of the Galaxy on repeat, with the idea of the bunny image as the “front label” (but because it’s just an image legally it’s the “back label) and with just the name on the back label. Sorry front label. Either way, the name was still going to be amuse bouche, even with what had now been named Astro Bunny on the front (sorry, back). I sent the photo of the graffiti to ace winemaker and master of the dark arts of Adobe Illustrator Brendan Carter, of Unico Zelo. In the blink of an eye Brendan had transformed the graffiti photo into a line drawing.
While I was discussing how to arrange the back label, still with the name “amuse bouche” we kept referring to the label, then the wine as Astro Bunny. I was sitting at my desk looking at a bottle with the images stuck on an empty bottle with sellotape. And it hit me with the all the clarity of something that once you see it, you can never see it another way. The name of the wine had to be Astro Bunny. The act of drinking the wine, with the foaming, candy pink, boozy, fruity bubbles made you feel like that bad bunny in her spaceship and want to yell “Fuck Yea”. So the bunny was born.”