You will have gathered that the labels on the Between Five Bells wines are a little different. There are two things at play here.
In the very early days, long before I had a feeling for the aesthetics of the labels, I had some convictions about what should, and should not, be on them. I like the idea of transparency from winemakers, and the primary tool of communication is a wine's label. Now, I know that very few people care about such things, but I still felt it important to let people know they can access that information if they want it. And, even if it's a side-effect, to let people know that there's nothing about the wines we are trying to hide. The labels on these wines should tell you something about the wine inside, be honest about it, and maybe even inspire a bit of research.
So, long before I knew what to do with it, I kept all the data on the vineyards, vintage conditions, ferments and finished wines from that first vintage in 2009/10.
It’s at this point in the tale, I can introduce Nicholas Felton. I am fortunate enough to share a great-grandfather with Nick, and I doubt securing the services of one of the world’s leading designers would have happened without this piece of serendipity. Nick specialises in turning data into graphics, and it is this unique skill that linked my first idea to the second- that the label should also be beautiful.
So, if you take the RED label, you will see the central image as something alluring and interesting. This is actually all the data of the various grape varieties as they entered the winery and went through primary fermentation. There are eight axis at play, including the heat of the ferments, the time on skins and the ripeness of the grapes. These are all things I find interesting, and even for a casual drinker, with a little research, they can tell you a lot about the flavours to expect.
With the introduction of the ROSÉ, the overall vision has started to come togther. The goal of the ROSÉ label is to tell you about the vintage, particularly the two main factors at play- heat and rain. The 2011 front-label lays two “bands” over each other, with each number from left to right showing a month in the growing season, September through April. Showing the average high and low temperature for each month forms the bands. One is the historical (the white one); one is the current year, 2011, (the yellow one). The front label in 2011 displays the lack of heat in the key ripening months of January to April.
Now, to really scare you off, the back label shows the same period, but with rainfall. Well, you don’t need to be a genius to see how wet the months of January and February were. Three times the historical average rainfall. The point of being open and honest about this with the ROSÉ is to lay the ground for the next wines to be released from the same vintage. In seeing the ROSÉ as the first wine of the vintage, and therefore learning about the vintage conditions, you can base your own thoughts about the style of vintage on fact.
The 2012 ROSÉ label continues this theme, but in a new design, (see below).
Nick has since created labels for the 2011 & 2012 WHITE & RED.
You can email me directly if you would like to see higher resolution examples of the labels.
*Also, and I'll write more soon, @hawk_wakawaka of wakawakawinereviews.com has created a beautiful label for our soon-to-be-released 2012 H-COTE. More to follow.