In my recent wine label researching, I came across the design firm MASH, based in Australia. And I think their stuff is just awesome. Any of these would definitely catch my attention immediately on a shelf.
Seemingly unconstrained by any wine world standards, MASH creates their concepts based on the people and ideas behind the wines they are designing for, coming up with a real and full identity for the wine as a whole, rather than just designing a little rectangular label to stick on a bottle.
Their concepts are totally unique fully realized in every detail, and they also simultaneously are sophisticated enough visually avoid sliding into gimmick territory, which could be a danger given how into the concepts they get.
For the wine above, MASH created the concept based on the identity of the man behind the Small Gully wines, a Mr. Stephen Black, who formerly was a chemist who worked in pharmaceuticals. So MASH ran with the chemist thing, calling the wine "Mr. Black's Concoction" and designing a retro apothecary-ish feeling label.
The other concept they created for Mr. Black is Black Magic, which has the "label" laser-etched directly onto the glass instead of using a paper label. They said they wanted it to look as if perhaps the winemaker himself scratched the information on to the bottle, and the subtle etched glass also works perfectly to complement the concept of "black magic."
The concept for this cheeky, almost creepy wine, called Return of the Living Red, was born out of the fact that the wine is "non-vintage" -- the two grape varieties are from two different vintages -- meaning it is "ageless."
Once again, MASH took the idea and ran with it, coming up with a whole identity for the wine based on this "Return of the Living Red" idea...
"This was a complex fine wine with no listed age; a mysterious and intriguing wine. To compliment this the nature of the product, Mash developed a concept to create a small pack containing missing and/or supproessed crime files implying the existence of the living dead in and around the vineyards."
"With the use of disturbing illustrations and fascinating old photos on a toothy uncoated paper the concept was brought to life. A slip knot with old twine and a deep red wax dipped bottle went with the old crime file folder to create one of our favorite wine packaging pieces."
For Inkwell, they came up with the imagery, the inkblot, directly from the name, and left the label free of any other text or design. The name itself resides on a neck label. The simple black and white palette is used to great graphic effect, and the inkblot is artistic and literal without being in your face or cheesy.
Here's another one where they based the concept off of the man behind the wine-- the owner of this winery also happened to be a magistrate judge, so they decided to go with the idea of "The Guilty."
The label has only the ambiguous and creepy black and white photo, from which it is impossible to tell whether "the guilty" is the defendent or the judge himself, and the handwritten info at the bottom.
More MASH labels to come...