Late autumn in Spain’s Alt Penedes, in the hills outside of Barcelona. The annual harvest that yields the area’s dry red and white wines has past weeks before. Yet there are still white grapes on the vine. They’re beyond ripe. Morning mists blow in off the sea. A fungus forms on the grapes. It begins to suck the moisture out of the fruit. The grapes appear to be decaying. For the DG Viticultors vineyard and winery, everything is going exactly as they’d hoped.
DG Viticultors produces three white desert wines, or “mist wines,” from these grapes. The late harvest enables the grapes to over-ripen, beyond the sweetness levels necessary to make dry wines. The fungus, called botrytis, or “noble rot,” then draws moisture from the grapes, further concentrating their flavor and sweetness. The resulting wine, under the best circumstances, balances sweetness with acidity, and offers pronounced flavors of ripe peach and toasty honey. This centuries-old winemaking process is thought to have originated in Tokaj, in Hungary, and continues today with the celebrated Sauternes wines of France and the Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines of Germany.
It’s a fascinating process. So much so that in designing the identity for DG Viticultors’ three desert wines, we decided to print the story of these wines’ creation directly on the bottles.
Using the entire face of the bottle, we had room to screenprint in Catalan, Spanish, and English. While the winemaking process is the same for DG Viticultors’ three wines—Petit Caligo, Caligo, and Caligo Essència—the difference is in their amounts of residual sugar and alcohol. Three shades of gold, on the labels and matching capsules, differentiate the wines. Our work also includes individual cases and four-bottle cases for Caligo.
Caligo Essència, the sweetest and most intense of the three, won the third prize in this year’s Vinoble Jerez, a biannual wine fair dedicated to the fortified, desert, and natural sweet wines.