Wineries that preserve the iconographic legacy of the past have a unique pedigree. One of my favorite Spanish wine labels is that of the great Rioja reserve Castillo Ygay, for its timeless classicism and its unmistakable patina of fine wine. Despite the touch-ups and adaptations made over the years, it remains faithful to the original sketches from 1877.
It is surprising how well this and other designs from the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries stand the test of time. One can immerse oneself in this particularly creative period through works such as Advertising image of the Marco de Jerez. A portrait of the period 1868-1936, by Ana Gómez Díaz-Franzón, in which she compiles more than 2,500 labels, or Rioja wine on its labels, by Javier Pascual and Eustaquio Uzqueda, which reaches a thousand reproductions.
Many of them are serving as inspiration to restless producers who explore the roots and history of their respective wine regions. Not only in terms of aesthetics, but also in the terminology of styles and elaborations. They are part of that retro style that has developed so much in recent years and that serves very well wines that defend the territory and local specialties.
At the other extreme is the countercultural, casual and provocative aesthetic of natural wine, which has broken molds in the way it is communicated from the label.
In between there are all kinds of options. There are those who value information above all, like the Californian firm Ridge Vineyards, which in the 2011 harvest began to include the ingredients of its wines on the label. Others opt for minimalist, artistic proposals, or regional aesthetics, as is the case with ports, madeiras, sherries or classic Alsatian and German whites.
Very successful wines such as Dom Pérignon, Louis Roederer Cristal or Pétrus are closely linked to the aesthetics of their presentations. Spain has its own phenomena, such as Faustino, the Rioja brand illustrated since the 1950s with the image of a knight painted by Rembrandt, or Pesquera, the first modern red wine from Ribera whose illustration of the entrance arch to this municipality has been the subject of countless of variations since its creation, at the end of the seventies.
Changing your image frequently is a risk, unless it is done with as much brilliance as Château Mouton Rothschild, which since 1945 has invited a renowned artist (the list of Spaniards includes Miró, Picasso, Dalí or Tàpies) to illustrate its label . The famous Bordeaux property inaugurated a fruitful relationship between wine and art that has had its own cohort of followers.
The label design of the 21st century responds to the need to attract attention in a line of fierce competition and, increasingly, to be noticed on the most visual social network. Be careful with elements that are difficult to photograph, such as gold or silk-screened labels, which do not look good on Instagram.
Creativity has benefited from the incursions of powerful names in design in this field, such as the Valencian Dani Nebot for Celler del Roure or the fruitful collaborations of Fernando Gutiérrez with Telmo Rodríguez, and from the appearance of specialized studios such as Calcco or Moruba (the shocking series of characters from Matsu, the project of the Vintae group in Toro, marked a before and after for them), both in Logroño, or Xavier Bas in Catalonia.
Wine labeling regulations are strict: in addition to mandatory mentions such as alcoholic strength, bottling registration or the presence of sulfites, designations of origin have their own additional requirements. From December 8 of this year, in addition, the list of ingredients and the nutritional declaration must be added, something that, foreseeably, will be done through electronic labels. So fans will be able to continue enjoying attractive designs that invite them to browse and have a good time in front of the shelves or in stores and wine bars.
Whatever the style of wine, there is no greater achievement than achieving perfect harmony between the presentation and the content of the bottle.
I’m Natural Don’t Panic #11 2019
There is no nicer and more casual way to promote natural wine. The idea is from Julien Ben Hamou López, who decided to continue the project started by his grandfather, Alberto López Calvo, in Coruña del Conde, a municipality of Burgos with vineyards that reach 1,000 meters and that is outside the limits of the DO Ribera. of the Douro. Another way to express Duero tempranillo without added sulfites and no wood. Abundant direct and rested fruit, and with the extra freshness that growing at high altitude provides.
· Red, Castilla y León
· Coruña del Conde Wineries
· 100% Tempranillo. 14.5% vol.
· 18,5 euros.
Ruuts 1 2022
This is the first step of a six-label project that seeks total sustainability: light bottles, a vegetable cap made from sugar cane, labels and packaging with responsible forest management paper, and a tree planted for every six bottles to offset the footprint. of carbon (the motto is “one box, one tree”). The number one wine is a white made with grapes from La Mancha: fresh, direct, with very moderate alcohol and a pleasant saline finish. You can reach it as much by philosophy as by its flavor.
· White (without DO)
· 40% Albillo, 40% Airén, 20% Macabeo. 11.5% vol.
· 15 euros.
The new terroir producers claim their roots and the territory. Roberto Oliván’s rebellion found a great ally in the Logroño design studio Calcco, which devised this classic image for its town wine that pays tribute to the harvesters. A large part of his family has already passed through the Xérico label, whose protagonist changes every year. In 2019, a year marked by drought, it is his son Aimar’s turn to defend this sincere red wine, made from fruit and soil (limestone marl), which ferments and ages in concrete tanks.
· Red, Rioja
· 85% Tempranillo, 15% Viura. 14.5% vol.
· 14,5 euros.