The Artist Wine Label
Artist wine labels: A crucial aspect of the wine making process is the creation of the wine label. The winemaker will often work with an artist to produce a label that captures their personality and tells the story of their wine and it’s heritage, in a visually arresting way. It is important therefore that both winemaker and artist get this part of the process right. An imaginatively executed artist wine label also makes a great conversation piece.
Artist Wine Labels – the big THREE
Three excellent examples of artist wine labels come from France’s Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Italy’s Vietti and California’s Sine Qua Non. Steeped in art history, tradition and modern art these three wine producers are considered by many to be the pioneers of the artist wine label, and continue to push its concept to creatively inventive heights.
Chateau Mouton Rothschild – the pioneers of the artist wine label
In the 1920’s, in a move to modernize the Chateau Mouton Rothschild brand, Phillipe de Rothschild enlisted contemporary artists to create beautiful label designs specifically for the purpose of enhancing the wine’s marketability. This practice was cemented in 1946 (and has continued as standard practice ever since), when Chateau Mouton Rothschild enlisted little known graphic artist Phillipe Jullian to adorn their label with an embellished ‘V’, to celebrate the victory of the Allied Forces. Their artist wine labels tradition has only been broken a handful of times for special commemorations.
Jean Cocteuau, George Braque, Salvador Dali, Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, XU Lie and Anish Kapoor are just some of the renowned artists to have created wine labels for the prestigious winery. Their next wine release, Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2010 vintage, will have a label by American artist Jeff Koons.
I have been obsessed with Mouton labels since the moment I discovered them, some time around 1986. Seeing their labels by Warhol, Haring and Picasso were directly responsible for the idea of creating Jason Oliva [Wine], just so that I could see my art used as an artist wine label. Along with the help of Shane Benson, the owner of New York Vintners, I am close to completing a collection of all the Mouton artist wine labels. We even have (and have drank a bottle of) the famed 1945, which is probably the toughest one to come across, mostly for financial reasons. -Jason
You can see the entire collection of Chateau Mouton Rothschild Artist Wine Labels at HERE
Vietti wines dressed with original art
In the Langhe region of northwestern Italy, a fourth generation small-producer makes some of the world’s most distinct, single-vineyard Barberas and Barolos. Since 1974 the Vietti family has been adorning their beautiful bottles with beautiful labels.
‘Wines like these deserved to be graced with labels unlike any other: labels designed by Artists. In the excitement of the moment we drew up a list of Artists, and the following day what had seemed to be a fanciful idea began to take shape’. (Alfred Currado from ‘ Vietti.com‘)
I was fortunate enough to meet Luca Carrada of Viette on several occasions at New York Vintners. Vietti’s labels really are just as stunning as their Barberas and Barolos…I have to admit Vietti Arneis is my favorite white wine. And the story of how their family rescued that varietal from near extinction is one of my favorite historical wine stories- Jason
For more information about Vietti Wines and their contribution to the history of Artist Wine Labels please have a look at their website.
Cult Classic Artist Label Wine from Sine Qua Non
Elaine and Manfred Krankl make distinctive and delicious wines under the name Sine Qua Non that are always at odds with tradition, whether its their winemaking or the titles and artist wine labels created by winemaker/artist Manfred Krankl. What started as a winemaking hobby in 1994 has grown into one of the most celebrated, collected and hard to acquire Rhone varietal Syrah and Grenache wines out of California. With the distinctive artwork of their wine labels and their quirky titles like The Maurader, The Thrill of Stamp Collecting and their first vintage, Queen of Spades, the Krankls have created a wine brand that is the epitome of cool.
I have to admit I became instantly obsessed with Sine Qua Non when I discovered the wine at New York Vintners in 2010 . The moment I saw the 1999 The Maurder with the Ty Cobb artwork on the label I was blown away, I just really dug that someone was out there making wine and artist label bottles in a way that made them happy, as if there were no rules … the look and style just made you want to own and drink them all. I really dug the winemaker as artist and the artist as winemaker concept and seeing what Elaine and Manfred Krankl created was a huge influence on Jason Oliva [Wine]. Fighting tradition and creating a wine obviously made by people who just love the whole winemaking process has been a great inspiration…once I drank The Marauder I wanted in and since I was not able to get on their allocation list, I figured why not make my own cult wine with the same spirit…maybe someday I will make it onto their list-Jason