At a special benefit auction held at the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Ornellaia presented the 10th edition of its Vendemmia d’Artista project on the 30th anniversary of its first vintage, 1985.
The project celebrates the unique character of each new Ornellaia vintage. Every year since the release of Ornellaia 2006 in May 2009, a contemporary artist has created a site-specific work of art and a series of limited edition labels, drawing inspiration from the word chosen by the winemaker to describe the character of the new vintage. The Vendemmia d’Artista project includes a label created by the artist for a single bottle in each wooden case of Ornellaia. As in previous years, the project provides for a limited edition of 111 large-size bottles, 100 Double Magnums, 10 Imperials and 1 Salmanazar, each individually numbered and signed by the artist. Each year, a selection of the custom-created bottles, with their labels designed and signed personally by the artist, is the object of both charity and for-profit auctions conducted by Sotheby’s, and the auction proceeds are donated to art foundations around the world. “Today, as the Vendemmia d’Artista marks its 10th year, it continues to attract funds for the restoration of artworks belonging to our universal heritage,” said Ornellaia’s CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja. “[To date], we have succeeded in donating more two million Euros across the globe; just a small drop perhaps, but there is much more to come.”
Ornellaia’s recent benefit auction at the Victoria & Albert Museum consisted of 9 lots comprising special bottles created by South African artist William Kentridge for the Ornellaia 2015 Il Carisma – Vendemmia d’Artista. The auction raised a total of £123,000, with the money going to the V&A.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Vendemmia d’Artista project, Ornellaia invited Kentridge to interpret the character of “Il Carisma” (Charisma). Kentridge is often referred to as a modern-day da Vinci, and is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, sculptures, animations and performances, which he uses to transmute sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories.
Kentridge created a site-specific masterpiece for Ornellaia, while the drawings on the wine labels were executed on the pages of old Italian cashbooks found in flea markets and second-hand shops in the Tuscan area.
The designs Kentridge has produced for Ornellaia combine so many elements of his work, including his repurposing of old Italian cash books and on-going exploration of human labour and mechanics, which lend themselves so well to the tradition of winemaking, and to the history and impeccable standards of the Ornellaia estate in particular. The labels he has designed for Ornellaia draw on his Shadow Procession series, as seen in the public mural “Triumphs And Laments” on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, and his latest performance work “The Head And The Load,” which premiers in London this summer. “I think it is no underestimation to say Kentridge is one of the most exciting and versatile artists in the world today, as evidenced in this very special project,” revealed Sotheby’s Head of Modern And Contemporary African Art, Hannah O’Leary.
According to the artist himself, “The images on the Ornellaia labels are essentially about the work of making wine, and mainly of the vendemmia, the grape harvest. The secateurs come from a memory of the one occasion I took part in a Tuscan vendemmia, when I spent six months in San Casciano outside Florence with my family. This made me understand the human labour involved in making the wine; though what I remember most strongly is the pleasure of the lunch prepared in the vineyards by the local farmer’s wife. A depth of flavour made by the combination of work and terroir. The aspects of wine-making that combine both manual craft and mechanical processes suggested the transformation of people into machines and machines into workers.”
The centrepiece of the project, of course, is the wine: Ornellaia 2015 Il Carisma. Now in its 30th vintage, the Carisma certainly lives up to its name. The fruit of a particularly well-balanced harvest season, 2015 is without doubt one of the great Ornellaia vintages. The characteristic deep colour announces a wine of great texture and intensity, followed by a fruit-rich nose that is ripe and fresh at the same time, emphasised by classic balsamic and spicy hints. It is rich, dense and full-bodied on the palate, with an exceptional tannic texture. Dense, velvety and refined, this texture extends throughout the palate. The lengthy finish concludes with an impression of firmness and delicate hints of spice.
“Like people of great ‘Carisma’ (Charisma), wines of great vintages know how to impose themselves naturally, without force, their balance allowing them to shine without having to flaunt themselves,” explained Axel Heinz, Winemaker and Estate Director.