RANCI DOLÇ: THE LABEL

Last Friday, we had the chance to talk with Joan Josep Bertran, “Joanji”. Despite being outside, he is a person who knows us and understands us, sometimes even better than ourselves. He is the father and the mother of the labels of Mas Martinet, the person responsible for our graphic image.
He is the person to ask how it all started, how the Ranci Dolç label of Martinet was born, and which was its creative process. This is a summary of our talk.
Joan Josep tells us, first of all, about the creative process. For this reason, he sets the starting point in the winery from a new approach consisting in giving “to each piece, each product, each wine produced, a more marked, more specific personality.” In other words, this means “differentiating each project starting from a general philosophy, from central arguments.” He tells us that, in general, there are two options for creating the identity of each product. The first option creates a winery storytelling, and the second one enhances the specific profile of each product, because in each product there is a wine concept, a territorial concept…. For each product there will be a more particular piece.
After putting ourselves in the situation, he tells us that, in order to start the process, it is necessary to understand what is behind of that particular product, talking with Sara, of course. And talking with her, he received several ideas, insights… which were the central pillars of the project:
– Imperfection: imperfection, related to the way the idea of Ranci Dolç of Martinet was born, when Sara was little, and she tried a sweet rancio wine from Escaladei… Trying to copy that idea… that feeling… “how something apparently imperfect can hold so much beauty.”
– Being outside the rules, as an exception, whether it is in the world of wine, or in general. This means creating a unique profile, even with respect to design, set the difference between what you do and what the other people do. “This is what you do at Mas Martinet, you work hard speaking of the concept or what you intend to do.” And that must be reflected in a label because, if the product followed the rules too much, we were including it in a collection of very standardised products.
– The idea of time. We are talking about a product which is not the reflex of a specific harvest or fermentation process. It is a product with a very long, extensive timeframe… because the vintages are very old, and after having gone through different procedures, at a given time, “it is bottled… Therefore, it should not be a contemporary product, because it talks about very old concepts.” This time concept should be included in the design.
Having these three main concepts into account, there was another question. The specific visual tradition that this kind of rancio, sweet wines… use to have. The golden tones… images with a strange part, “they aren’t usually products with predominance of elegance or rigour in their design. They tend to be very vintage or old items.”
And in this context, we start working. In order to start a project, Joan Josep and his team create visual ideas, inspired by “existing referents in order to configurate a piece which works in the same symbolic universe, but which is different.” In this case, the process was slightly different, because the product was so special that there wasn’t any similar context or “we couldn’t find it,” says “Joanji”. They started designing, and then they realised that the project could be explained through the design. Letters getting bigger and smaller, letters which, in a very abstract but precise way, explain the vintage system, the pouring process from the big barrel into the small barrel, the decantation process… like a visual game which let us create a big identity. A stepped design which explained the nature of the product and its production. And also choosing a special font “when we talk about non-precision, we are talking about non-precision in a very precise way, we know well, you and us, we know well what we are doing.” A font designed not long ago, but which looks back and let them encapsulate this concept.
“A friend of mine, whom I love very much, with whom I studied, one day, he was looking at us while we were working, […] and he told me: ‘You do the opposite of what a lot of people do, which is trying to summarise a very simple idea so that it is understood very quickly.’ He said: ‘What you do is a semantic haze, or… semantic clouds… And these semantic clouds are like a group of ideas… like vectors at many levels, where there is the wine culture, the territory, your personality, or Josep Lluis’s and Montse’s personalities…. there are a thousand layers, and what you try, when you are making a piece, is to have a general representation of all this’.”
The composition process began: font, images, colour… “Talking about colours, […] we also worked with weird, bright colours, a curious chromatic combination.”
After a first wave of sketches, Sara asked me to go deeper, and then a second wave came, which produced the piece as it is now, as we know it today.
Another distinctive feature of the project was that, as the print run was very short, the same label size should work for two different-sized bottles. And this is how this problem was solved.
“The piece has a risk factor. It is daring from an historical approach, from an interpretation… which is finally filtered by us. It is as if you represented a label which was designed 80 years ago by contemporary people. In the end, it is like an imaginary person, but it is also what you are doing in the winery, which is […] or you try to think about those wines from 100 or 120 years ago which didn’t reach you because they weren’t bottled… but you can imagine, in the winery, how they were made, which expression they could have […] or you want to reproduce them nowadays.
After all, a label design “is like a cocreation between the winery and us […]. We don’t have the answer to everything. We pave the way so that, with your own eyes, we can get further… We are the messengers of your message, interpreters. We don’t invent, we create on your own creation.”

Thank you, Joan Josep Bertran, for taking the time to talk with us.

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