Because of the huge influx of inexpensive, fruit-forward Shiraz wines from Australia, Syrah has become both a misunderstood varietal and a cheapened, over-saturated category. Yet some of the best and most distinctive Rhône-style reds in the country come from Washington-grown Syrah. With the release of this new series of wines—Tenet, The Pundit and Le Fervent—Ste. Michelle sought to put a stake in the ground that would contradict Syrah’s current reputation in the marketplace and elevate the perception of Washington Syrahs in particular.
Tenet Wines represents an international collaboration between Ste. Michelle and two of France’s preeminent winemakers from the Rhône Valley—Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie. As unique as this project is, they asked for branding that would also stand out within their existing portfolio. That’s where we came in.
The eponymous Tenet wine label design features an austere yet visually compelling ambigram—a mark which retains its’ meaning regardless of the orientation. Ambigrams have a long history as symbols of deeper meanings and hidden truths. In this case the “truth” revealed is that of the true Syrah, unveiling the deeper nature of the varietal. Any way you look at it, this wine defines Syrah. The classical blackletter script cocked at an angle, diecut label and short capsule all combine to make for a dynamic, engaging and contemporary presence.
In addition to label design, our work included a positioning statement, if not a proclamation, that unabashedly embodies the spirit of this wine:
This is our conviction—that in the right hands, these vines can grow into a revolution, putting an elegant stake in fertile ground and turning the Syrah world upside down, bottle by bottle. This is a chance to break free of hidebound expectations, reveal truths long hidden, and change minds about what’s possible. This is our manifesto, expressed in the language of Rhône’s ancient hills and inscribed root-deep in the extraordinary soil of the Columbia Valley. This is wine worth believing in. This is Tenet.
- Wine Labels