This post is as much about the winery Colline di Sopra as it is about their lovely labels. Unfortunately they are not yet distributed in the U.S. but they should be.
Everyone interested in wine, whichever side you are on (producer, customer, importer, retailer, wine bar owner, restaurateur, journalist, media spokeperson, etc) cares about the labels of the wines that they own, represent or write about. Producers tend to be attached to their labels for a variety of reasons including tradition, history, family or design.
Customers care about labels too especially ones that they can remember – think of the numerous apps that allow us to take pictures of labels and save them. Importers, retailers, wine bar owners and restaurateurs care about labels too because they want them to be easily recognizable by their customers.
Journalists and media spokespeople have a different take – they want labels that tell a story and are easy to photograph. I love looking at labels and finding out why people choose various patterns, icons, or set-ups. I find that I tend to like labels that are relatively simple, kind of like a Milanese kitchen, clean lines and uniform color schemes.
I came upon labels just like this last year at Vinitaly. Each year Vinitaly holds a packaging contest. This year, the 18th such contest saw a “Bardolino doc Classico 2013″ from Azienda Agricola Bigagnoli, win the special prize for best label of the year in the wine category, the “Premio speciale packaging 2014.”
I rarely mention labels here and always cringe when someone tells a producer what to do with their label but I understand the logic of it all and occasionally see the real need for it with some wines. The labels of the Colline di Sopra wines were quite simple and clean as were the wines inside those lovely bottles.
The winery was founded in 2006 and the vines were planted in 2007. The winery is located in the Montescudaio area in Tuscany with vineyards planted at 120-200 meters above sea level. The winery is only 10 kilometers from the sea and is subject to strong winds. They use organic viticulture practices, renewable energy and water maintenance. They also use gravity instead of pressing for the grapes. The soils are a mix with clay and marine fossils as one would expect in this location.
They make five wines, including Sopra which is 100% Sangiovese – aged in second use French oak barrels for 18 months and then in the bottle for another six monts; Eola IGT- a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese vinified and aged in stainless steel; Lara IGT- a blend of Merlot and Syrah also made in stainless steel; Ramanto IGT- Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot aged in French oak for 12 months and then 6 months in the bottle; and finally Luis IGT – a Moscato Bianco from raisined fruit that dries on wooden flats before being pressed into this .
Looking through my notes I had the word clean over and over again when describing these wines. I found them to be focused and have good acidity on the whole, derived I am sure from their particular micro-climate and soils. Definitely not a traditional winery, the labels were a great example of branding and conveying the message of what is in the bottle: clean, harmonious, modern wines, just like the labels.