Innovation – the winemakers of the Moselle know how to do it. And that’s true of all areas of their work. The proof comes in the shape of the new labels for the Signature crémant from the Cep d’Or estate (Hëttermillen). They are designed using Tyvek®, a high-tech material from the DuPont de Nemours production lines at Contern.
Paper labels? Very traditional and, above all, they did not always stick that well to the bottles of Signature crémant, the top-of-the-range sparkling wine produced at Cep d’Or. The particularly rounded form at the base (in the Prosecco style) does not leave a lot of room for labelling the bottle. As a result, the labelling machine was sometimes unable to avoid unsightly folds. For a bottle serving as the standard-bearer for the wines produced at the estate, this was not acceptable. But the winemaker, Jean-Marie Vesque, has come up with the solution.
To be honest, it’s the ideal solution which came knocking directly at his door in the person of Kris D’Exelle, Sales Manager at DuPont de Nemours, the American company based in Contern since 1962. The driving ethos of this former footballer (who notably sported the RFCU Luxembourg shirt in and around 2010 in the Luxembourg first league) is to find new uses for Tyvek®, a material over fifty years old that has been produced in Contern since 1988, and is already used in fields which are as wide-ranging as they are unsuspected. “The product is not new, but we are always finding new applications for it!” he smiles.
In 2017, D’Exelle had a flash of inspiration: “Since you can print practically whatever you want onto Tyvek® and since it is water-resistant, I said to myself that it would be interesting to make labels for bottles which need to be cooled in an ice bucket,” he explains: “It was my ice bucket challenge!”
“Its unusual texture and feel are very appealing in identifying a top-of-the-range wine.”
The young man, who will be celebrating his thirtieth birthday this year, is very well-acquainted with the Californian label producer based at Rodange, Avery Dennison, which already makes a special glue designed for Tyvek®. Conversely, he didn’t know that much about the world of wine, and even less about the specific needs of winemakers when it comes to labels. But the Moselle is not far from Contern: “One of my friends knows Jean-Marie Vesque well, and he gave me his contact details,” says D’Exelle. It was a good move, as the Hëttermillen-based winemaker had just committed to adopting new-look graphics and D’Exelle was knocking at an open door. “He invited me to visit his cellar, explained his work to me, and told me what he expects from a label,” D’Exelle recalls.
Jean-Marie Vesque also advised him to get in touch with his printer, the German company Vollherbstdruck (based in Endingen, near Freiburg im Breisgau), which had just demonstrated a pleasing creativity in developing his new labelling. Very interested in this material, which the printer had not come across previously, he agreed to undertake a series of tests. “They were sufficiently conclusive for us to initiate an industrial-scale test under real conditions,” explains D’Exelle. The test was validated by all parties and, faced with this success, Avery Dennison decided to include Tyvek® in its catalogue.
In the first year, 10,000 m² of Tyvek® labels were produced. First to feature them were the bottles of a South African gin producer. Last year, that figure was five times that quantity, and for 2019 it is not impossible to anticipate 100,000 m² of labels. Truly impressive growth!
In the Grand Duchy, it makes every sense that Jean-Marie Vesque – at the outset of this story – should be the first to opt for Tyvek®. “Following a number of tests that were not conclusive, even using superior-quality papers, we tested Tyvek® on our Signature crémant, and I was highly delighted with it!” the winemaker smiles: “Its unusual texture and feel are very appealing in identifying a top-of-the-range wine. And I like the fact that I am using a product manufactured near the winery.”
The ice bucket challenge has been mastered!