Carmenero: The wolf in sheep’s clothing

PROJECT NAME Nothing is lost, everything is create, everything is transformed
AGENCY Spazio di Paolo
BRANDCà del Bosco  
LABEL MATERIAL: Fasson® Cotton Touch FSC® and Fasson® Cotton Black
PRINT:  Sanfaustino Label
STAMPING DIES: Hinderer + Muhlich


The wolf in sheep's clothing is a familiar phrase conveying a powerful message that realities are often not what they seem, and appearances can be deceiving. Its origin can be traced back to both Aesop's fables and the Bible, but it's still used as a popular metaphor in modern society today.

The tale of the same name by Aesop is a great example of storytelling, which is integral to human existence. Throughout our lives, stories have been told to us with the purpose of creating an emotional connection and facilitating understanding and retention. This need to feel connected to something certainly plays a role in the success of the most notable luxury brands today. For brands to stand out on a sea of crowded shelves through design, they are turning to labels to convey a story that will ultimately draw in consumers' attention and lead to purchase. One such brand that truly understands this is Ca' del Bosco, a renowned winery in Italy.

It began in the mid-1960s in a small house on a hill near Erbusco, known locally as "Ca' del Bosco," surrounded by a thick forest of chestnut trees that provides the perfect idyllic backdrop for the meeting between fairytale and reality. Carmenero, a wine created in 1997, has become one of the brand's most famous wines and has taken on multiple forms over the years. Mario Di Paolo, the owner of the award-winning design agency Spazio Di Paolo, recently gave it a restyle to further solidify its position as a product for telling stories.


"Our new version of Carmenero reinterprets the original label's unusual story," explains Mario. "As with the wolf hidden in the lamb's fleece, the wine, coming from a vine native to the Bordeaux region, was mistaken for Cabernet franc for a long time, until after specific analyses, it was found to be Carménère—a wolf who disguised itself as a lamb before revealing its true nature." With the original label featuring a wolf and lamb, Mario wanted to preserve and honor its origins while elevating it through creativity and innovative labeling solutions. In the new guise, two luxury labels are applied on a premium wine bottle to tell the story of Carmenero. By using a label that emerges from the bottle glass, it displays a pop-up label approach to project the wine's story outside the bottle.

The first layer is made with Avery Dennison's Fasson® Cotton Touch FSC®, a premium felt-marked natural paper made from FSC® certified pulp and fibers of cotton, a yearly renewable plant. It is combined with a recyclable PP carrier featuring a recycled liner and a Luxoro-LEONHARD KURZ gold decoration layer, the thinnest on the market that is also recyclable and compostable. The labels' interior is adorned with this beautiful gold layer, as well as the Ca' del Bosco logo that has been hot stamped on the white fleece. "In the first layer of the work, the white coat of the lamb has a dry relief covering the entire surface, expressing its softness and whiteness, and debossed to provide the fleece effect while completely covering the bottle without letting the viewer see what lies beneath," adds Mario. Thanks to Hinderer + Mühlich's  dies, even the smallest details were perfectly printed despite the rough paper texture. This white label partially adheres to the bottle that can open or close to reveal the hidden second label. 

Then comes the revelation shown on the second label. As soon as the white label is removed, the consumer is presented with a nocturnal scene—a forest immersed in darkness, where the eyes of a wolf can be seen hidden among the branches. Mario explains his thought process: "It was important to me that the contrast between the white and black enhanced the gloomy and mysterious appearance of the wolf while adding intrigue through its intense bright gaze with hot gold embossed on Avery Dennison's Fasson® Cotton Black." All labeling projects for high-quality items benefit from this paper's distinctive texture and tactile effect. The deep black color is pulp-added to avoid the unsightly white reverse or edges, thus enhancing its elegance and sophistication. And finally, to complete the forest scene with its nocturnal shadows, Hinderer + Mühlich's die is used to ensure the additional contrast offered by the glossy deep black (MTS 362) from the LUXOR® range.

"Through structural precautions, the two layers become an architectural work that evokes the act of disguise: the lamb's fleece cloaks the wolf and reveals a golden world beneath. As a matter of fact, the coat's inner layer is completely covered in a cold-pressed gold and, when it opens, it illuminates the wolf wearing it, emphasizing its gold gaze," describes Mario.

While this design was a success, there were some technical challenges the creative team had to overcome. Before the Carmenero label, this type of labeling project was hand-made, and applied manually. However, in collaboration with Sanfaustino Label, Spazio di Paolo designed and automated the manufacturing process for the first time on such a large-scale label. Due to the substantial size and multilayered nature of the outer white label, producing this on an industrial scale was a difficult task, but Carmenero was effectively developed through these collaborations with industry leaders.

The unusual, luxurious design of Carmenero will undoubtedly catch consumers' attention, making them curious about its story. Carmenero is a great example of what brands can achieve when they embrace their origins, work with innovative industry leaders to adopt environmentally friendly labeling and packaging solutions, and recognize the growing demand for meaningful and authentic products that not only tell stories but are also made sustainably.


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