Have you ever wondered about the little cherubs that appear on our wine labels? We have asked Carmelo G. Caderot, who came up with the first designs, to take us on a trip down memory lane.

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When the first 1996 vintage was released, our range of wines was a little different. The only existing Pago wines were Negralada and Valdebellón and as well as our flagship red Selección Especial, there were two cuvées: Campanario and Palomar. Back then we had Rívola and Primicia, two entry-level reds that were discontinued as the vineyard gradually reached maturity.

Carmelo G. Caderot, author of the labels, is a respected editorial design specialist

At that moment, attention was drawn onto the abbey’s singularity and the estate’s unique history. Interestingly, the person who was chosen to take care of the designs —Carmelo G. Caderot— had no previous experience in the world of wine. We got in touch with him thanks to the personal recommendation of wine journalist Víctor de la Serna, who is also a producer in Manchuela, in Castilla-La Mancha.

Designer and wine lover

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Born in Paris in 1954, Carmelo G. Caderot is a self-taught editorial designer. He worked as art director for Diario 16 and Cambio 16, two leading publications during the Spanish Transition, but he gained recognition at El Mundo newspaper, where he was art director and co-founder. He has received a wealth of prestigious design awards from the Society of Publication Designers (SPD), Type Directors Club (TDC), Society for News Design (SND) and Asociación Española de Diseñadores Gráficos (AEDG).

The pastel colours of the Sixtine Chapel were a source of inspiration in the design of the cherubs

Undoubtedly, his passion for wine —something he probably acquired during his education in France— was key to accept the job. “I also enjoyed the freedom I was given to do the work”.

“The idea of the cherubs was very poetic and was closely related to the abbey,” he recalls. “It also allowed me to use a palette of colours resembling the pastel tones of the frescoes in the Sixtine Chapel.” Finally, the chosen colours were red for Abadía Retuerta (the current Selección Especial), orange for Palomar, brown for Campanario, various ochre colours for the “Pagos”, blue for Rívola and green for Primicia.

The cherubs’ drawings were done by illustrator Ana Juan, who is the author of many front pages in US magazine The New Yorker and has received Spain’s Premio Nacional de Ilustración 2010.

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Typeface

Caderot followed Abadía Retuerta’s instructions to the letter in terms of the information required on the label and the size of the various elements, but he came up with a vibrant typeface range thanks to his vast editorial experience. For example, the “A” in the centre is Liberty, the decorations on both sides are Ornaments and he chose the Nicholas Cochin type for the village name.

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Seen with today’s eyes and in the midst of the zoning debate in Spain, including Sardón de Duero on the main label instead of on the smaller origin label —bearing the indication Vino de Mesa de Castilla y León— was tremendously visionary and supportive of the village wine concept.

The vibrant typeface style he used gave our labels a distinctively unique element

Finally, we asked Carmelo G. Caderot to give us his opinion about today’s labels and which one is his favourite: I must admit that I like Burgundy’s labels. These days we are immersed in a fireworks mode, with a great deal of striking labels. I think it is important to recapture delicacy and sobriety. A label should clearly show the name of the wine; I prefer elegant typefaces to create a harmonious, balanced ensemble that provides identity to the brand”.

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