Monday, September 19, 2016

Hips Don't Lie

I love my labels. 

I don't mean those multisyllabic Italian names that dress wafer-thin models in clunky, mismatched fabrics, ghoulish make-up and heels that could be used to maim a disgruntled lover. Me trying designer clothing is akin to forcing a Fiat 500's chassis onto a naked Hummer; hips don't lie, people. Plus, those labels are for the cool kids, and cool kids don't cry watching Massimo Bottura talk about his wife and Parmesan cheese.

I love my wine labels. Whether we like it or not, plenty of consumers out there partially base their wine purchases on the label; it catches a corner of their eye with its modern design, its comedic undertones, its bravado, its refinement, you name it. I've been guilty of this plenty of times, specially when my phone's roaming and I'm looking at a region of the world that's as obscure to me as deep-fried pork belly is to a supermodel.

Since moving to Cyprus ten-plus years ago, the evolution of the Cypriot wine label has been interesting to follow. It's only during the past three-to-five years that some of the wineries on The Rock have embraced labels that have become something to write home about. Still, many remain stuck in the past with old fashioned, unimaginative and dull labels that fail to capture the consumer's imagination.

Rocky Ledge Above Vouni Panayia Winery
For me, it all starts with Vouni Panayia, whose labels experienced a massive transformation, and are the coolest on the island. After spending a sunset with the Kyriakides family on a steep rocky ledge one-thousand-plus meters above sea levelsharing stories and laughs, sampling their Promara and Spourtiko, taking in the myriad of colours scattering into blackthese labels make perfect sense: a mouflon, Cyprus' national animal, leaning over a large V that mimics said cliff.

Tsiakkas winery has also done a good job, adopting a series of drawn Cypriot motifs to embellish their bottles, and Zambartas, from the get-go, designed a sophisticated label that stands out for its finesse. However, as has come up in discussions with the team behind Evoinos, another Cypriot wine blog, it's not enough to just modernise one's labels without having a coherent, interesting and informative story behind the effort. Maybe this is a marketing or branding issue that has failed to take hold of the Cypriot wine industry, but it is one where there's tons of potential.

The Unveiling
The latest to adopt a new image was Kyperounda Winery, and I was honoured to have been invited to the launch for the rebranding of its entry level wines—Petritis, Andessitis and Rosé—which was held at Nicosia's Municipal Gardens.

The sophisticated affair perfectly complemented Kyperounda Winery's new labels, which consist of a series of pine cones coloured in gold, blue and fuchsia, one for each bottle. The design's lines are simple yet classy and are in touch with the winery's history and its geographic location in the Pitsilia region of the Troodos mountains.

According to the winery, "The new labels in the main series of wines by Kyperounta Winery exude refinement, highlighting the dynamic character and quality of the wines. The symbol is the pine cone, characteristic of the Pitsilia area. It is worth noting that Pitsilia took its name from the ancient 'Pitis,' which means pine."

Kyperounda's New Label Art
From my brief conversation with the Kyperounda Winery crew hosting the event, the winery is also looking into revamping the labels for their mid-range wines, which include the Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and always enjoyable Chardonnay. It will be interesting to see whether they will stick to the pine cone theme or come up with something altogether new.

In any case, it's about time Cypriot wine labels do justice to the vastly improved libation that's now found in the bottle and adds kilos around our waists. 

By the way, if any local winery is up for it, we can organise a label design competition and see what comes of it. Plenty of talented artists on The Rock and I'm sure plenty of them would be thrilled to design something for a case of your finest Maratheftiko, bragging rights and a shoutout/nickname on my third-rate wine blog.

Who's got next?

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