What's in a Label?

Published by Emma Partington on 30/05/2017

With so many bottles on display in a typical wine shop and with so much (or sometimes, so little) information displayed on their labels, how do you make a choice? You might skip over IGP, DOC, AOC, Valdobbiadene, Napa, Premier Cru, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux… but, suddenly, something will make you stop. A label calls out to you. It’s embossed. It’s got a beautiful illustration of a bird, and stylish typography. You might still know little about the wine inside, but yet something makes you grab the bottle and head to the till.

If this seems familiar, you’re in good company. It is widely believed that wine label art is reflective of the quality of the wine inside the bottle, so the theory goes that the more unique and attractive a wine label is, the more likely the bottle will be purchased and tasted. So the label fulfils a role far more important than merely displaying information.

Good label design is not easy, but the ones that work best often reveal something about the winemaker, the winery and the wine itself. The label is our first impression of a wine, so it should be reflective of what is inside the bottle. Although it might not be right always to judge a book by its cover, you do need a reason to take it off the shelf.

The London Cru labels have been receiving a lot of attention of late. London Cru is London’s first winery, creating top-quality wine in an urban setting, so our labels needed to unite the idea of fine wine with the unique urban location.

As well as creating a strong visual identity and signifying the different wines across the range, the designs also had to solve a particular wine industry technical constraint. Due to the particularities of labelling law, we were unable to identify the grape variety on the bottle and so had to devise a clever way of getting around that. Since our wines could not be identified by grape variety in writing, our idea was to name each wine after a street or place in London that has a phonetic link to its grape (e.g. Charlotte St for Chardonnay).

However, converting a set of thoughts and ideas into a visual message is no easy task and top branding and design agency The Partners helped us by translating our ideas into a meaningful design.

We think the final designs are striking and elegant and perfectly reflect the vision we had for the wine. The map of London becomes a leaf skeleton and, when combined with the outline of the leaf, creates the perfect basis for the label. Each grape variety has a different shaped vine leaf, distinguishing the individual types of wine.

And it’s not just us who loves the labels. We’ve won three packaging awards in 2017, including a Gold FAB Award for best packaging design for alcoholic drinks at the International Food and Beverage Excellence Awards. With competition from massive brands including Budweiser, Carlsberg and Bacardi, we’ve reason to be especially proud.


Emma Partington

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