Origins of mosaic labels revealed

The "Mona Lisa of the Galilei" dates back to the 3rd century, and can be found in the ancient Israeli town once known as Sepphoris.

They say never judge a book by its cover, but how much importance should we place on the design of a wine’s label?

At Vino’s recent Luca Ferraris tasting, the young piemontese producer’s Barbera d’Asti caught one Vino customer’s eye. She immediately noticed a resemblance between the Barbera d’Asti label and an ancient mosaic image, a reproduction of which she claimed to have in her home. A few days later, following further investigation, she revealed to me the precise origins of the image on Ferraris’ wine’s bottle.

The image in question comes from a mosaic dating back to the third century, which can still be found within the ruins of a Roman villa in the Assyrian town of Sepphoris (now Tzippori, a moshav in northern Israel) just six kilometers north of Nazareth. Built in 200 but destroyed in 363, the villa contains some of Israel’s most famous mosaics. Though possibly meant to represent Venus, researchers have since dubbed the centrepiece of the mosaic floor Mona Lisa of the Gallilei, for which smaller mosaic pieces, called tesserae, were used to allow for greater detail and a more life-like result.

Clearly, Luca Ferraris’ team of label designers have used the latest techniques to subtly alter the image, touching up missing mosaic pieces and positioning a wreath of grapevines within the woman’s hair. I will contact Luca in the next few weeks to find out his take on this fascinating story, and perhaps discover the origins of his other labels…

The label for Luca Ferraris' Barbera d'Asti clearly takes its inspiration from the ancient mosaic.

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