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Ornellaia unveils 15th edition of the Vendemmia d’Artista charity auction

Ornellaia has announced the 15th edition of its annual Vendemmia d’Artista charity auction with Sotheby’s, a 12-lot auction that includes double magnums, imperials and a unique 9-litre Salmanazar of the legendary Super Tuscan wine.

The company noted that the unique bottles were precious for three reasons: their contents, the works of art on the labels and, last but not least, their goal of increasing access to the arts for all visitors.

“In 2020, nature and humanity combined to craft a perfect ‘proportion’ of elegance, power and complexity,” it said in a press release.

All of the proceeds of the sale will go to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s ‘Mind’s Eye’ programme, which welcomes and enhances access to the arts for visitors who are blind or partially sighted, a charity the annual sale has supported since 2019.

Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, CEO of Ornellaia said the estate was proud to support the initiative. “As in art, appreciation of fine wines requires total involvement of the senses. This partnership with the Guggenheim Foundation is a way of giving back to the community some of the extraordinary goodwill that nature has bestowed upon us,” he said.

The bottles included in the sale have all been embellished with labels designed by leading American conceptual artist and theorist Joseph Kosuth, providing his interpretation of this year’s theme, La Proporzione (Proportion).

He has creating a set of works based on the word “wine” and a quote from Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius’ De Architectura. The 750ml bottle features the English version of the phrase engraved on the paper, for the 100 double magnums, the etymology of the word ‘wine’ is embossed on the bottle, while each of the unique 10 imperials sees the etymology engraved onto the glass. One branch is accentuated in white and the quote from Vitruvius is translated in the highlighted language or one of its modern descendants: Albanian, Serbo-Croatian, Latin, Italian, Hindi, Hebrew, Modern Greek, Irish, German and Armenian. For the Salmanazar, the etymology and quote from Vitruvius are in English, and the highlighting applied to the bottle is in platinum.

Kosuth notes that the language is “an important part of experiencing everything and that these experiences shape us in a certain way linguistically. The architecture of experience through language was obviously always at work and I believe that Vitruvius was a major resource in understanding a concept like proportion. Proportion is not only visible equilibrium among the elements, but also equilibrium of all the elements that make it a perfect entity of what it represents for the world, thus also shaping it as conception.”

“Very significant”

Speaking exclusively to the drinks business, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, Ornellaia’s CEO called this edition “very significant”.

“I love how Joseph Kosuth has shown how the meaning of the word wine can become an artistic experience that goes beyond the purely aesthetic. One can simply lose oneself in the magnitude of the artwork that Kosuth has created for Ornellaia,” he said. “When I first tasted this vintage with the technical team, we all found a perfect relationship between all varietals that form the blend in the just proportions of elegance, power and complexity. And Kosuth has captured all of that.”

Although the lots follows a similar format from previous years – 12 lots that include the offer of Double Magnums (3L), Imperials (6L) and the unique Salmanazar (9L) combined with immersive experiences at the estate – Geddes da Filicaja said the team had introduced some changes.

“Instead of the usual first lot of the unique Salmanazar (9L), we decided to raise the bar a little further and enrich it by offering in a single lot the entire collection of the larger formats (the 3L, the 6L and the 9L) of the Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2020 La Proporzione (Proportion),” he said. “We have also added a rare vertical of 8 vintages of Ornellaia, in a Magnum format, representing the history of the estate and culminating in the 2020 vintage which sees Ornellaia enter its fifth decade.”

Previously they have included some vintages of Ornellaia Bianco in different lots a few years ago, but it was only last year that they decided to offer a full vertical of Ornellaia Bianco in Magnum format.

“It was such a success that we decided to offer it again during this, the 15th edition of the Vendemmia d’Artista auction,” Geddes da Filicaja explained.

Cyra Levenson, director of the educational department of the Guggenheim Museum (CL), said the Guggenheim’s Mind’s Eye programme, which was piloted in 2008 as an in-person programme at the museum designed for participants who are blind or partially sighted,  has grown since the partnership with Vendemmia d’Artista began.

“Thanks to Ornellaia’s dedicated partnership since 2019, Mind’s Eye has expanded to a virtual programme reaching live audiences globally,” she said. “It has produced award-winning audio content featuring description of art and architecture for the blind and partially sighted. The Vendemmia d’Artista project supports the global expansion of Mind’s Eye audio resources across all Guggenheim locations: New York, Bilbao, and Venice.”

Explaining why the Guggenheim choose to partner with Ornellaia for this annual event, she added that the Guggenheim’s Mind’s Eye programme engaged “all the senses, expanding access and offering multisensory ways of experiencing art. Through the Vendemmia d’Artista project, Ornellaia also creates unique experiences and vitally supports our shared belief that art is for all. We are proud to celebrate this annual event with our partners.”

Online bidding will open on the 7 September and close two weeks later on the 21 September. The link to the auction website can be found here. 

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