I like that Bastard. There you are. I have finally, after all these years, said it in print and have got away with it or should get away with it.
Because in this case the Bastard - The King's Bastard, to be exact - is a wine to which I have taken a liking, rather than some poor plonker for whom I have a great deal less regard.
And when I say liking, it is not confined to just the stuff in the bottle, but everything about it - the label, the look and the story behind The King's series of wines of which it is a part.
It is for this as much as any other reason that the Marisco wines and others in the family have been going gangbusters overseas and earning just about as many gongs for presentation as content, the latest at the San Francisco Wine Competition in the United States, where The King's Series was awarded double gold for its label design.
This is the highest accolade in the competition and is awarded when a series of labels are unanimously awarded gold medals by all the judges assessing them.
I remember in 2010, when the label won its first accolade for design, Marisco boss and winemaking wunderkind Brent Marris, said: "New Zealand wine runs a real risk of becoming commoditised . . . so as an industry we have to constantly seek new ways to set our wines apart.
"Our experience shows that people want to feel engaged and entertained by their wine."
The answer was to design a label that looked like no other and reflected the history of the Marris family, descended from the de Mariscos, who at one time held important roles within the English Court.
For instance, in the 1100s, William de Marisco, said to be one of King Henry I's 35 illegitimate children, was appointed Chief Governor of Ireland, but he was sent packing after being caught with his fingers in the church's coffers.
His son, William, gained even more notoriety for the family when he was implicated in the murder of Henry Clement, court messenger for Henry III.
Then, three years later, when a man claiming to be an agent of William de Marisco attempted to kill the king, William fled to the island of Lundy, in the Bristol Channel, and turned to piracy in the Irish Sea.
Finally, in 1242, he was captured by the king's troops, returned to London, where he was tried, and dragged off to be hung, drawn and quartered.
The King's Series of wines cleverly encapsulates the story in the names assigned to the five varieties, which so far wear the classic medieval label that traces the family history - starting with the Bastard, whose family was a Thorn in the side of a succession of kings, incurring their Wrath but also gaining Favour before coming to a Sticky end.
The modern-day Marrises are a completely different bunch.
What the Marlborough pioneers have achieved since selling Wither Hills in 2002 has been remarkable.
They turned an old cattle farm into a vineyard in 2003, building a hi-tech winery, and launched The Ned and The Kings Series wines under the Marisco brand.
The company now produces more than 400,000 cases of wine a year and sells 80 per cent of it overseas to an audience wowed as much by its presentation as the quality of the wine.
The King's Bastard 2012 Chardonnay, $23
Another great-value Marlborough chardonnay with rich stonefruit, slightly butterscotched flavours with undertones of nuts and spice. Smooth and satisfying.
The King's Favour 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, $23
A powerful and juicy Waihopai sauvignon with an attractive floral nose and citrus, herbs and minerals on the palate. Another gold-medal winner.
The King's Thorn 2012 Pinot Gris, $23
A delicately pink Marlborough wine with a hint of honeysuckle among the florals and stonefruit on the nose and a slightly savoury finish. Effortless drinking. Off dry.
- © Fairfax NZ News