Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Label Love

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a complicated person. In fact if you want to make me really, really happy you only need to drop me off outside 2 stores - a book shop or a wine store. Give me unlimited time & a few dollars & I'll emerge in a euphoric state, my little purchases tucked under my arm & a grin from ear to ear.

I also love great design, design that's clever, a little quirky, tells a story & sells a product. I recently read a fab article from Wine Business describing the process behind the design of a wine label. If you're interested in knowing what drives design in wine labelling, this article is well worth the read.

I do however, abhor wine snobbery, there's no place for it ever, ever, ever. There are a number of great Antipodean winemakers who can be described without fear or favour as larrikins. They add wonderful dimesion & balance to the world of wine, god bless them. They will not hesitate to call someone a Wine Wanker if they deserve it & nor will I.

These days I tend toward the quirky on the Wine Shop shelves to grab my initial attention. Not that I'll be swayed to trade good content for a creative label, but often it will influence me more than a boring, staid label that's done it's time. So here are a few of my current faves, interestingly mainly South Australian wines because we have one of the best Graphic Agencies in the whole wide world, Mash Design here in Adelaide. If you've found something wonderfully quirky & clever in your wine store lurkings, please tell me.

These 3 are from Shinas Estate . The Guilty is a Shiraz, The Innocent a Viognier & The Verdict a Cab. Sav. The Owner/Winemaker is a Magistrate Judge.

The next 3 come from the outstanding Killibinbin Winery in McLaren Vale. The main US distributor of Killibinbin was always referring to these as being 'Killer' wines, so this 'Killer' comment became the impetus for the packaging of this series of wines. The theme was enlarged using graphics from old horror flicks and their gruesome killing scenes. There is the 'Stranglehold' Cab. Sav., 'Bloodcurdling Scream' Shiraz & 'Killer Hand' Red Blend.

Then there's the fabulous 'Return of the Living Red' from Redhead Wine Studio in McLaren Vale. This label was designed for the top end of their fine wine range. As this Red is non-vintage it has no age (the 2 grape varieties coming from different vintages).This was a complex fine wine, a mysterious and intriguing wine. To compliment this, Mash Design developed a concept to create a small packet envelope containing missing and/or suppressed crime files implying the existence of the living dead in and around the vineyards. With use of disturbing illustrations and fascinating old photos on a toothy uncoated paper the concept was bought to life. A slip knot with old twine and a deep red wax dipped bottle went with the old crime file folder.

A barrel monkey is the Australian equivalent of California’s cellar rat - ' one who drags hoses or pushes barrels in winery'.... the distinguishing features include a purple tongue & stained red hands. This Shiraz was produced by a group of moonlighting barrel monkeys using the equipment at Redhead Studios in McLaren Vale.

The highly-acclaimed Lazy Ballerina Shiraz Viognier from McLaren Vale is named after the viticultural term. It refers to the common trellising effect that a wine grapevine is grown on in Australia.

I love the 'Bins' range! According to Dieline 'It started out as a cheeky concept based on many Australian wines (Penfolds in particular) who use the specific 'bin' number to identify their wines. The Design Agency used the fact that in the U.K bins are usually associated with refuse or garbage & then twisted the concept by taking photos of regular garbage bins outside houses in the U.K. As is quite common, householders paint their respective house number on their bin to identify it as theirs. Bin 15a is obviously a flat.'

Image 1: Madwine Images 2,3,4: Shinas Estate Images 5,6,7,8,9,10: Mash Designs Image 11: Sam's Wines Image 12: Lazy Ballerina Image 13: The Dieline


  1. Very interesting post about the wine labels! I wonder if I can find any of these in the US?
    And another thing...I will meet you at any bookstore or wine shop...I get lost and I love it!!

  2. Okay, I'll come clean...I've sometimes bought a bottle of wine purely because of the label. And this wonderful post does nothing to cure me from doing so. Lee :)

  3. I do buy wine according to labels- you know that after my earlier post. It's even nice when the wine turns out to be really enjoyable. I could spend a whole day in a wine shop...or a bookshop for that matter. Hmmm... wine with books-such a good combo.
    Love these labels-on the hunt now!

  4. Graphic Design is one of my interests, so loved this post. The first two are my absolute favorites, really inspired and so well done. I'm off to go get me some wine labels .. I mean wine.
    ps with you on the bookshop and wine store, though I haunt secondhand bookshops.

  5. Lovely post Millie.
    I often buy a bottle of wine if it has an eye catching label.
    I am with you there, a book shop or a nice wine shop is a fun place to visit.
    I like your labels you have shown.


  6. These labels are pieces of art. Next stage for me will be to buy them and try.
    Thank you for a very interesting post, Millie.

  7. Wow i never realised wine could be so fascinating! i love the meaning and inuendos behind these labels. i have a friend who buys wine based on the label and now i know why!

    fabulous post!!


  8. Fascinating post, Millie. Gosh you write well - when's that book happening? Tell MOTH to get cracking on that bathroom so he can build you a writer's retreat.

    To be honest, I am an absolute wine ignoramus. My purchase is about 90% dictated by the label. The quirkier the better. These labels are terrific, I would buy them in a heartbeat. Thanks for sharing such interesting insights. Meredith xo.

  9. Great post Millie. They're brilliant labels - love 'the bins'. I'd buy any of these in a heartbeat. And I know you 'shouldn't judge a book by its cover', but I'm guilty of that too!

  10. Fun post! I too love looking at all the wine labels!

  11. I have a friend who has a little wine shop. Everything she stalks, she's tried and loves which makes it wonderful because I can choose the bottle that 'looks' most appealing but know that it will also taste great. And I was in the city the other day and bought a bottle of wine just because I loved the label. It's an Italian wine called 'Vaona' and it makes me happy just looking at it - even uncorked!

  12. Hey Millie...just love this post...probably 'cos I LOVE wine !!!..but these labels are fantastic...I just adore the first set. I even think that I would keep them and not drink the wine....O.K. maybe not but they are brilliant....I don't think that I've ever seen them you think that they are available in England...I'll have to do a bit of research !!!
    My computer is sickly at the moment (see post) so if I don't comment for a couple of days, you'll know why. Normal sevice should be resumed soon.!!!! XXXX

  13. Great post! I was just talking wine a minute ago with a friend.

    In fact I think we would be great friends IRL. Wine and books. Just perfect.

    And I love a good label too! One of my favorites is

    Big Red Monster - very nice wine.

  14. Now there's a thought Millie....a reading room where one could mellow out with the good drop while perusing one's favourite book or mag? mmmmmm. lol.
    Have often thought I'd like something similar with a coffe shop! Hadn't thought of the vino angle!
    and I've often done the same thing.....stood and read and wondered at some of those amazing labels on the bottles. Have never seen the ones you have here though. They are brilliant. Very creative.

  15. The wine labels are great, I love "Return of the Living Red" I am going to buy it just so I can read the label, looks fascinating. I guess I will have to drink the wine as well....

  16. Totally agree on the wine snob nonsense. However I have been known to buy a bottle for its amazing label, and would have to say I would find some of these hard to resist for the same reason. Love them.

  17. what a fun thing to do.
    wouldn't that be a fun job designing vino labeds???

    i love the 'redhead' wine label.
    it is very DEXTER.

    xx hugs

  18. Thanks for sharing some of these fun wine labels. I too spend hours looking at wine labels - some are so clever.

  19. Millie, I tried to leave you a comment re this post the other day but our internet connection disappeared but I have just been showing my husband and we both thought it was wonderful....Must say that we can't access any of these wines over our way, so we look forward to a wander through a proper store one trip to Adelaide.


And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

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