Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 4 April 2017
Somm is a limited edition Australian Shiraz from Niche Wine Co., a winery that embraces an innovative dry farming process that yields fewer yet higher quality grapes with an intensity of flavour and colour. With a desire to convey an established, old vineyard feel, and a sense of heritage and sophistication, Niche Wine Co. worked with Sydney-based studio Frost to develop a name and wine label design.
Inspired by the sommelier, a trusted and knowledgeable figure in the world of wine, Frost developed an idea based around the sommelier’s notebook, literally translating the spontaneity, insight and personable qualities of this directly onto label and tissue paper, then packaging bottle into bespoke wooden box.
Although premium, there is a smart economy to the work in the intersection of compelling copywriting and the way it is used to create a strong graphic expression. It effectively delivers a distinctive presence from a distance and follows this up with words and sentence style that manages to distil down the unique qualities of the Shiraz and articulate something of the experience, craft and knowledge of the winery. It also resonates well with the limited edition nature of the release.
The sommelier’s lexicon remains visceral, idiosyncratic and is interesting to read. Stylistically this finds a pleasant balance between authentic script which includes ink bleeds, imperfections an abundance of slight letter variation, and a contemporary polish in its implementation across label. The journal-like nature of lettering and language is successfully emphasised in the tactile qualities and colour of paper, with the only flourish being that of an embossed border.
Other highlights include the tissue paper’s translucency working in conjunction with oversized copy that distills down label into a simple single expression which then creates layers of type wrapped around bottle, and the contrast between the loose, organic and spontaneous black ink and the more structured layout and precise type and copper ink set to the right. This is perhaps a little successful, in its typesetting and layout, but calls out the limited edition nature of the range.