Responses by RitaRivotti
Background: Quinta Vale Dona Maria is a magical family estate that houses a myriad of traditional grape varieties that grow on steep terraced slopes at the heart of the Douro Valley. The birthplace of Port, a natural fortified wine produced exclusively with grapes from this region, the Douro was one of the first and most prominent demarcated wine regions in the world and established as a protected region in 1756.
For decades, Quinta Vale D. Maria has been producing Port wine using traditional methods. In September, the grapes are harvested and taken to the winery where they are arranged in lagares, or large granite wine presses, and foot-trodden by local men and women. After the vinification process, the wine is stored for years or decades in wooden casks, where it ages and develops. To identify each vintage wine, the year is painted by hand on the cask, using an ancient stenciling technique, where white paint is applied to a cutout template, leaving the number inscribed on the wood.
Due to the wine’s relationship with the wood, where it aged for about 50 years, the 1969 harvest proved to be an exceptional vintage wine. So, we were challenged to create exclusive packaging for Quinta Vale D. Maria’s 1969 Very Old Tawny Port wine to target “connoisseurs” who enjoy refined products.
Reasoning: We chose an egg-shaped bottle, a symbol of origin and transformation, to evoke the transformative temple where the wine rested. We then placed this fragile egg in a wooden case decorated with a replica of the stencil template used to mark the year 1969, made in brass.
Challenges: The materials we chose for this packaging—fine wood, brass and crystal—reflect the pride and quality of its contents. However, they are expensive and it was not easy to find a supplier to produce such a complex box. The use of brass as the decoration for the box also represented a huge challenge.
Visual influences: When we visited the Cellar of Port Wine in Quinta Vale D. Maria or the Vale D. Maria Estate, our main inspiration struck. The big white numbers painted on each barrel—huge wooden casks—had such a great visual impact. Each barrel contained a different vintage wine. Thus, the visual influence was the stencil font used in these barrels, which were both classic and iconic in the language of Port. So, we decided to use this traditional language to highlight the special year of 1969 in a premium way.