Trends
The art of labels

The art of labels

Discover some of the artists behind your favourite bottles and meet the producers with whom they work hand in hand.

An increasing number of contemporary artists are getting involved with the creation of wine and spirit labels. Winemakers and distillers are embracing audacity and youthful energy with labels featuring art that’s abstract, urban, colourful, textural, and even amusing.

Calling upon artists to design wine labels is not a new phenomenon. One needs only think of prestigious French winery Rothschild’s famed Mouton, which united some of the 20th century’s most famous artists: Picasso, Chagall, Miró, Dalí, to name but a few. In fact, artists and wineries have been working together since the 1930s Belle Epoque era of eye-catching and elegant posters.

Storytelling

Nowadays, label choices are more a function of product marketing. A label may set it apart from another similar product, tell a story (whether real or fictional), or to better position the brand on the market. Without labels, wines would look interchangeable – even though that’s clearly not the case! Ergo the importance of wine labels communicating to the public, from winery or distillery to consumer.

Marc Séguin

Sorel-Tracy distillers Les Subversifs gave artist Marc Séguin the task of creating a label for their gin, Marie-Victorin. “It’s a great collaboration between spirit makers and marketing,” notes the painter. “I had free rein. I like that they use Québécois historical figures as names for the products themselves.” The gin label wasn’t Séguin’s first foray into label art, and he considers it to be a medium that’s currently evolving. “Right now, there are new ideas, new ways of doing things, new markets, too. Quebec really stands out because of its label art, and overall I believe that I’m helping the process of democratizing art.”

Le Gin de Marie-Victorin

$44.75

Le Gin de Marie-Victorin

Dry gin750 mlCanada
Le Gin de Marie-Victorin

Le Gin de Marie-Victorin

$44.75

Dry gin750 mlCanada, QuebecSAQ code : 13876298

 

Fanny Rice

Chile’s MontGras winery has certainly extended the boundaries of label art: With each new vintage it produces, the winery calls upon a new international artist to help design the label. For the 2018 red and white vintage, a Quebec artist of Danish heritage is featured: Fanny Rice. The self-taught artist’s abstract works are inspired by her global travels. To create the label, she travelled to the winery for inspiration, and to discover the wine itself. “I wanted to evoke the colours and textures of the Colchagua Valley, and of the four grape varieties used for the wine. It was an exceptional experience. I learned so much, was able to meet the wonderful family at the winery, and discovered that we share the same values.”

MontGras Quatro Valle de Colchagua

$17.90

MontGras Quatro Valle de Colchagua

Red wine750 mlChile
MontGras Quatro Valle de Colchagua

MontGras Quatro Valle de Colchagua

$17.90

Red wine750 mlChile, Valle CentralSAQ code : 11331737
  • Grape variety(ies):
  • Cabernet sauvignon, 
  • Carmenere, 
  • Malbec, 
  • Syrah

 

Michel Tolmer

Since the 1980s, French illustrator and graphic artist Michel Tolmer has been a wine aficionado and has worked with various wineries. His reader-friendly blog Glougueule has an amusing take on wine culture. For Tolmer, labels have changed at the same time as wine culture itself — and that includes recent trends such as natural wines and microbreweries. That paradigm shift is even more present on this side of the ocean, where so-called New World wines are shaking things up. He notes: “We’re living in a time where in order to impress, you can’t be afraid to do things differently.”

Tolmer’s most recent work on the label for l’Épaulé Jeté 2017 was born of a joke between friends. “It’s a wink to a bunch of friends getting together to drink wine and doing arm curls with their wineglasses rather than with weights at the gym!” To create the artwork, Tolmer first hand-printed a series of lithographs. One of his numbered works was framed and hung at the winery belonging to the artist’s friends, Catherine and Pierre Breton (in Bourgueil, Touraine). Customers began associating the image with the estate, so it seemed fitting to use it to adorn the label of their Vouvray 2017.

Catherine et Pierre Breton Épaulé Jeté 2018

$23.65

Catherine et Pierre Breton Épaulé Jeté 2018

White wine750 mlFrance
Catherine et Pierre Breton Épaulé Jeté 2018

Catherine et Pierre Breton Épaulé Jeté 2018

$23.65

White wine750 mlFrance, Vallée de la LoireSAQ code : 12103411
Not available onlineSee quantity in stores

 

Romeo’s gin and museum

Graffiti and street art are now considered to be legitimate art forms, and Romeo’s distillery decided to incorporate that urban heartbeat into their DNA. “Art is at the heart of our mission and our values,” states Nicolas Duvernois, the company’s president and founder. “A percentage of sales from each of our bottles goes toward the promotion of art in Quebec and elsewhere.”

The label affixed to Bottle 01 was based on a canvas imagined by Montréal artist Stikki Peaches, a master of mixed media. “I’m a fan of gin, and I like that Romeo’s cares about artists and art.” Each year, a new design graces the label. What’s more, the distiller has even opened its own urban art gallery in Montréal’s Mile End neighbourhood. Some 24 intricate murals adorn the staircase walls of 5445 and 5455 Avenue de Gaspé – two buildings which in and of themselves celebrate the effervescence of the city’s creative spirit. It’s a free museum that’s open all year round. Duvernois couldn’t be happier with the results: “People collect our bottles, and some have even gone as far as buying original art from an artist featured on one of Romeo’s labels. In our own way, we’re helping to make art accessible to all, and exposing people to genuinely great artists.”

The artist’s way…

Whenever he steps foot in an SAQ, artist Stikki Peaches has the same ritual: He buys a bottle of one of his favourites, and then selects a bottle under $20 that has an appealing label. “I’ve noticed that over the past few years, there’s really been an upswing in the creativity used in the packaging of wine. There’s more colour, more images, just more daring in general. I’ve discovered some great wines!”

Romeo's Gin

$39.75

Romeo's Gin

Dry gin750 mlCanada
Romeo's Gin

Romeo's Gin

$39.75

Dry gin750 mlCanada, QuebecSAQ code : 13735305

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