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Aplauz Premium Wine


Design: the Labelmaker
Photo: Jordan Jelev
Project Type: Produced, Commercial Work
Client: Villa Melnik
Location: Varna, Bulgaria
Packaging Contents: Wine
Packaging Substrate / Materials: Glass
Printing Process: Offset Printing, Hot Foil Stamping, Raised Varnish

The Legacy
Aplauz is the premium wine brand by Villa Melnik. At the top of the brand row stands Aplauz Premium Reserve – the best of the whole range. They used the same wine label design for all wines and needed to visually separate the top level from the rest of the products. The old label was printed on very fine textured paper in classic rectangular shape. The brand name Aplauz was positioned at the center of the label and stamped with gold hot-foil.

The background was printed in beautiful dark blue color featuring low contrast drawing of native Melnik landscape. At the top of the label was Villa Melnik’s family crest stamped with gold hot foil. The bottom part was reserved for variety, vintage and all other texts that specify important info about the product. The bottle was one of the tallest on the shelf – some 330 mm high. Very elegant for a tapered one.

The Goal
The goal was clear but not simple & easy at all – I was commissioned to create a brand new design for the Aplauz Premium Reserve wines only and make it completely different from the rest of the wines inside the range while preserving all info from the existing front label.


Before and After

The Execution
As always, we started with the bottle – we decided to keep it because we did not want to destroy completely the connection between Aplauz Premium Reserve and the rest of the series. Keeping the bottle was somehow like building a bridge between two price ranges in same brand. We picked our from Saverglass.

There was a drawing in the old label that I wanted to restyle, change, even reconsider it and use it in the new design. I wanted to have modern and attractive look, and this couldn’t be related with old traditional Melnik houses from the existing label. I left them behind and set my focus on the Melnik pyramids – incredible creature of Nature that along with the wine is one of the icons of Melnik.

I did number of sketches on my iPad – in fact they were more than 20 different ones – but I still did not like how they looked. They were either too classic, or without character, and I even thought that this is something beyond my skills. And then one day after my latest unsuccessful sketch I came up with the idea to make modern digital illustration of Melnik pyramids. This is what unlocked the whole project and of course my creativity.


I started everything from the scratch and began creating only geometrical shapes with a lot of corners and sharp edges to represent the specific shape of Melnik pyramids and landscape. While creating this image I started to think about printing at the same time – gold hot foil, rich gold – not just gold!!!! I wanted to use this gold as if the pyramids were shining on my label reflecting the last rays of light at sunset. The rest was very easy – I continued mixing different geometrical shapes and colored them in different tones of color from dark burgundy red for the shades to over-saturated orange.

Then after I did the whole illustration I decided to use its skeleton, flip it down to the bottom of the label and print it with raised varnish against the deep black background. I did this because I wanted to depict on my wine label the incredible terroir of Melnik – this is what makes their wines so special.

The bottom part of the label, just like in the old one was for the Aplauz brand and all other texts. There was a story between Aplauz – in fact it should always be AplauZ. Like A to Z. So, there were two semantic layers blended in this brand – one for the word meaning applause and the other was for the ending letters. In fact, there is a third thing encoded in this brand A stands also for Alexa – the son of winery owners and also his Grandfather’s name, while the Z is from Zikatanov family name.

So much for the brand name and its complex meaning. All other texts on the front label were executed in very simple typography – I did not want to steal the attention from the pyramids on top. The capsule was initially designed in same rich gold as the hot foil on the front label but then we decided to keep it black matt with elegant design. The paper we used for this label was produced by Arconvert and if you take a look at my closeup shots, you could easily see its gorgeous skin-effect texture. I couldn’t think of any better complementation to my whole design. Printed in deep black colour the paper shines with its beauty even more.


The Result
I think we hit our goal – made absolutely different label with premium look. Authentic reflection of the wines it is designed for. When you see the bottle on the shelf it is all black with nice play between black matt and glossy surfaces. The only thing that captures your attention even from long distance is the picture of Melnik pyramids. For me it shines like gem – just like the wines of Vila Melnik.

At second look you see the AplauZ brand in white at the bottom of the label along with the Premium Reserve text. The rest is just the irresistible desire to grab the bottle, touch it, rotate it in your hands just to see where all these reflections come from. At the end you open it and taste a treasure sealed inside the bottle.







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