Since I don´t claim to be a complete connoisseur when it comes to taste analysis, I enjoy it when my wine comes with a bit of a story behind the label – or even on it. Jané Ventura, a small winery in the Baix Penedés region of Spain, certainly offered me something extra to remember them by. It remains a family affair where the approach to producing great quality wines stems from a passion for the local landscape and cultural identity.
We visited Mas Vilella, the smaller of two vineyard estates owned by the family. The place oozes ‘finca del campo’ charm, aided by a motley crew of traditional winemaking paraphernalia strewn about the lower levels. Upstairs in the homely country-style kitchen (check out the wonderful stone sinks!), Gerard (a fourth generation member of the family business) took the time to explain to us something of the family philosophy.
As they see it, the wine they make stems from the landscape, so unique and quality vintages can be created by focusing on local grape varieties which thrive in the area´s natural climate. And, just as it can inspire great wines, the local landscape can and has inspired all sorts of creative outputs – from the famous cellist Pablo Casals to the works of Gaudi, Miro and Picasso. As we talk, it is evident that Gerard is very passionate about the regional landscape and the inspirational influence it has had on Catalan culture. The company supports all sorts of local cultural initiatives, from assisting with an annual reconstruction of a stone building typical to the area, to the production of a one-off vintage of Gran Reserva Cava to help raise money for the restoration of a local pipe organ – 2039 bottles were produced, one for each pipe needing to be restored.
One of the most visual indications of this philosophy on the nexus between the landscape and creative wine making is the labels for the Jané Ventura bottles. A lot of time and thought has been invested in creating a graphic which is both meaningful and pleasing on the eye.
A set of three for the white, rose and red fit neatly together to depict key features of the landscapes surrounding Jané Ventura´s properties, from the Mas Vilella farm house in the west to the church at El Vendrell (site of the family´s original cellar building, dating back to the 1930´s), to the coast and port in the east.
Hot off the press are their new Cava labels, for the ´Reserva de la Musica´. A contemporary design compliments the colours of the white and rose bottles, with parallel lines and dots making various references to musical images (the keys on a piano, the strings on a cello, five dots for the five lines making up the staff of written music). Gerard confesses they were so serious about achieving the perfect effect that release of this years´ vintage was delayed whilst the labels and accompanying packaging were finalized.
I suppose some wine buffs may argue that it´s what´s in the bottle and on the palette that counts…but I find the visual enjoyment of Jané Venturas labels is part and parcel of the overall experience, enhancing my anticipation for the equally delightful contents.