Category Archives: Italian wines

2021 Growing Year in Italy: What to expect

The life-force of the vine vs climate changes

High quality anticipated in the wine-cellar

Harvest is literally upon us with some white grapes already safely in the cellar and several red grape varieties being picked at this very moment. But it’s still too early to draw any definitive conclusions about the 2021 harvest, since producers up and down the peninsula are still relying on predictions. Which, however, are encouragingly positive.

Let’s give a brief overview of the growing season. The weather brought three distinctive phenomena that had critical impacts. A spring freeze plunged temperatures that delayed bud-break and shoot growth by some 10 days, whose effects are still being felt in the current ripening stage, while the south suffered under water deprivation and the north was hit by torrential rains. The common thread that emerged from these challenges, though, was the current outstanding health status and overall quality of the fruit, a situation that augurs well for fine wines from 2021. Delivering the best results seem to have been the most ecologically-sensitive vineyard operations and precision agricultural practices, approaches that protect and express terroir in the face of increasingly threatening climate changes.   

We asked producers from north to south what they thought and how they were managing to transform climate threats into quality outcomes.

NORTH

In Trentino, at the historic San Leonardo wine estate, owner Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga reports that “the year opened cold and very rainy, which tried us no end. Then, in early August, the weather really began to smile on us, and we are continuing even now to enjoy fabulous, sunny days, with significant day-night temperature differentials as wide as 18oC. If September follows the same pattern, we have a realistic hope of bringing in a truly superb harvest.” 

Over in Lombardy, in the Oltrepò Pavese hills, the 200 hectares of Conte Vistarino allow a clear picture of overall prospects for the general area. Ottavia Giorgi enthuses: “We have extreme expectations for this harvest, which promises to be even better than we could imagine.” Brimming groundwater reserves, crisp spring weather, painstaking attention to vine-row vegetation, and a healthy status of the clusters harken back to the 2018 season, while the tannins look to be finer-grained than in preceding years. The white grapes are currently exhibiting outstanding pH and acidities, which bodes well for the sparkling base wines as well. “We are expecting very heightened aromatics and crisp acidities in our Pinot Noir, a gift of those quite wide temperature differentials in the hot summer months.”  

TUSCANY

In the Colli Fiorentini, just outside Florence, at Torre a Cona, Niccolò Rossi di Montelera has expectations for “a good quality vintage but for a crop smaller than in 2019 and 2020. Reflecting this growing season’s characteristics, the harvest will kick off slightly later than in previous vintages, beginning with Merlot in the latter half of September, while Sangiovese and Colorino will wait until the end of the month.” 

At Castello di Brolio, one of Chianti Classico’s iconic estates, Francesco Ricasoli explains that the year has brought a one-two punch of freezes and hot spells. “Still, our white grapes, which were picked already in late August, are superb, in both quality and quantity. We expect to bring in our Sangiovese around mid-September; the crop will be down a bit, but quality definitely up. Cluster size is somewhat small, as in 2017, but they show deeper colour, aromatic intensity, and better concentration.” 

Just a few kilometres away, Giovanni Mazzei underscores that the current season “is yet more proof of our vines’ ability to withstand challenging weather conditions thrown at them.” In particular, in the Siepi zone, “where deep soils and a high percentage of clay help retain much more moisture than other areas, a generous water supply for the roots and wide day-night temperature ranges are ensuring excellent ripeness levels.”    

At Castello di Querceto in Greve in Chianti, the unfavourable weather phenomena reduced the crop load by about 10%. Alessandro François is cautious about making any definitive judgments. While waiting to see what the next few weeks will bring, he says that “quality looks very good, but our Sangiovese growing at 400-520 metres still needs more time.”

The heat spells impacted Gaiole in Chianti, too, but director Luca Vitiello of Bertinga explains that “good canopy management protected the clusters and careful ground-working allowed the vines to recently complete veraison, a bit late perhaps, but with no excessive stress. These are the foundations for an excellent harvest, which we are looking for in the next days of September for the Merlot vineyards and the first half of October for Sangiovese.”  

Moving into Montalcino, Emilia Nardi, owner of Tenute Silvio Nardi, tells us that “thanks to our 2020 post-harvest operations, the vines enjoyed a plentiful supply of water, which allowed them to handle this season’s lack of it. Right now, the fruit shows surprisingly good balance and the vines good canopy development.”

Heading towards the Tuscan coast, where the vineyards of the Tenuta di Ghizzano lie in the Pisan hills, Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini declares herself satisfied, since “the white grape varieties are in very good shape indeed. For some of the reds, however, the situation is somewhat more complicated. The Merlot is already in the cellar, and the quality seems quite high, but we’re hoping for a bit more rain, which would give our Sangiovese perfect phenolic ripeness.” Rains have already been of providential help this year, and “our clay-rich soils were able to absorb the rains we saw in May, which helped the vines cope with the summer drought.”   

In Riparbella, the just-emerging Colline Albelle operation uses one of its tools, dry-farming, to prevent heat stress. Winery director and winemaker Julian Renaud explains that “we also mow the cover-crop in mid-May, leaving everything on the ground, we keep canes short to prevent evapo-transpiration, do no leaf-pulling, and we utilise biodynamic preparations. All that helps us maintain optimal balance in the vineyards and a very gradual ripening process. This year, we expect about a 15-day delay in starting our harvest.” 

Along the same coast, in Bolgheri, Ornellaia director Axel Heinz, notes that its unique configuration of quite deep soils with high percentages of clay and limestone encourages the vine roots to go deep in search of water, which helps them resist the long stretches of dryness here. In addition, “Our sunny, dry conditions help the early-developing white varieties to fully ripen.” And finally, a drop in temperatures created “ideal conditions for the final stage of ripening, thus giving the red varieties all the time they needed to reach perfect ripeness.”

In the Maremma, the Fattoria Le Pupille team can draw a sigh of relief at what promises at this moment to be a great vintage. “The rains in mid-July gave us a welcome boost, relieving the heat stress and bringing the growing year to a blessed close.” A stance of hope, therefore, from Ettore Rizzi, estate agronomist and oenologist of the estate founded by Elisabetta Geppetti.

Also in the Maremma is Castello di Vicarello, where the hillslope position of the vineyards was proof against the spring freezes, and in the summer ensured them cool night-time temperatures that warded off heat stress. Brando Baccheschi Berti evinces pronounced satisfaction over fruit quality: “Wonderful acidities and full berries, proof that our old, deep-rooted vines are holding up well. My impression is that it’s going to be a beautiful vintage.” 

In the Val d’Orcia, finally, with benchmark operation Tenuta di Trinoro, a textbook-perfect vintage is expected. Here, too, the difficult weather brought challenges, but director Calogero Portannese expresses strong confidence in those “significant day-night temperature variations, which encouraged impressively-high quality in the fruit. Still, the harvest is a ways off yet, and we have to wait to see what autumn will finally bring us.”  

SICILY and SARDINIA

Over the sea in Sardinia’s Gallura district, Massimo Ruggero, managing director of Siddùra, explains that the area did experience the spring freezes, but the impact was not severe, “thanks to our particular climate here in this valley, our crop was down just slightly compared to the previous year. Overall grape health is good, and the final crop should almost equal that of 2020.” 

Let’s conclude our journey in Sicily. Mount Etna suffered a torrid, dry summer, and Vincenzo Lo Mauro, director of Passopisciaro, helped the vines by supplying night-time emergency irrigation. “The Chardonnay harvest started early, right after mid-August. The grapes were in wonderful condition, heathy and aromatic, and they’ll give us a very intense, firm-structured wine. Regarding the reds, we’re hoping the heat will drop and that we’ll receive some rainfall, which will help them get to that perfect point of ripeness.”

And now, there’s nothing we can do but wait.

Bolgheri: the harvest begins at Ornellaia

Wine lovers can expect a characterful and stylish vintage.

Just one game that’s played once a year, the strength of a team that loves their land and deeply cares about every single detail to achieve the epitome of elegance… these are the requirements to begin the “2021 Harvest”.

Midsummer has passed, the holidays are over and nature is already calling growers back to the vines. In 2021, the growth of the vineyards was delayed by a rather cool spring, which slowed the budbreak before a summer that proved hot and very dry.

The lack of rainfall right up to the harvest is reminiscent of classic Bolgheri vintages such as 2016 and 2015, which both involved long, dry spells of drought. The unique, local soil composition, profound with high percentages of limestone and clay, enables the roots of the vines to delve into the deepest layers in search of water, with the aim of withstanding extended periods of drought.

“The sunny and dry spell helped the white grapes to ripen in the earlier vineyards,” comments Estate Director, Axel Heinz. “Over the next few days, much-welcome lower temperatures are expected, which will create the perfect conditions to conclude the ripening and to harvest the Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, which is likely to take place during the week of 23 August.”

In the meantime, the 2021 harvest began at Ornellaia on 18 August with the harvest of the first few bunches of the estate’s Sauvignon Blanc. A little more patience is required for the red grapes: another two weeks are needed before the harvest can commence.

’20 anni’ Passopisciaro celebrates two decades on Etna with a one-of-a-kind wine

This year, Passopisciaro, the Mount Etna producer that launched that area’s wine renaissance, is celebrating the 20th year since its first harvest with a special-edition magnum of Nerello Mascalese, for collectors and connoisseurs of rare, one-of-a-kind wines.

Falling under the fascination of these black, volcanic-sand soils and intuiting, as early as the start of the millennium, their superb potential, Andrea Franchetti bottled his first Passorosso (then called Passopisciaro) in 2001, a blend of lots from a number of parcels of old vines.

Franchetti won appreciation for first understanding—and introducing—the so-called Contradas, districts on the mountain, as true crus, then solidified his role as a benchmark by producing five of these exquisitely terroir wines. The value of that initiative was underscored and broadened by his creation in 2007 of the “Contrade dell’Etna” annual wine appointment. Etna’s vocation for high-quality viticulture soon became recognised throughout the world, as did its powerfully magnetic attraction.

Today, Etna no longer needs an introduction. Its contradas offer fascinating readings of the volcano’s historic eruptions and imprint their individual wines with strong personalities. To celebrate this intriguing land, an integral part of one of the world’s most active volcanos, Passopisciaro has bottled a magisterial cuvée of the finest lots from all the estate vineyards, a shimmering red quintessence produced in only 1,550 magnums. The label is spare and minimal, bearing the name “20 anni” (20 years), the winery logo, and the personal signature Franchetti on a white background. 20 anni is additionally unique in that it was produced solely in 2019.

20 anni crowns two decades of achievements on Mt. Etna, the distillation of intuitions, passion, expertise, and experience. Says Andrea Franchetti, “I wanted to create a cuvée of Nerello Mascalese from all the contradas of Passopisciaro as an homage to this magnificent earth, to the years that have passed, and to the future that awaits us.”

The 2019 growing season was ushered in by a capricious spring, which brought light freezes that set back vine growth and resulted in looser than normal clusters. By harvest, though, the grapes

had achieved perfect balance between phenolic and physical ripeness, which yielded “wines with supple fruit and superb linearity” and well-calibrated alcohols. 

20 anni brings together the seductive spiciness of Sciaranuova, the firm structure of Guardiola, the delicate florality of Rampante, the succulent red berryfruit of Porcaria, and the pungent vegetal notes of Chiappemacine, crafting an exquisite embodiment of the Passopisciaro terroir.

Franchetti goes back in his mind to his initial encounter with Etna: “My first impressions when I arrived, in winter, were bleak. It seemed as though the volcano had been abandoned. Wineries were scattered loosely and in disorder over its slopes, amidst untended brush and dry-stone walls that disappeared up the mountain. The idea of restoring those exposed vineyards so high up there seemed absurd. And at that very moment, Etna erupted at the summit. On the other hand, being up there so high attracted me.”

Today, those slopes vaunt a geometrical garden of vineyards, and their vines are major protagonists in a history with many pages yet to be written. 

The Estate. Passopisciaro practices a precision viticulture obsessively respectful of nature, relying on 26 hectares of vineyards distributed over the north flank of Etna; most are planted to Nerello Mascalese, often un-grafted vines 80-100 years old, but there are Petit Verdot, Cesanese di Affile, and Chardonnay as well. In addition to Passorosso, Passobianco and the contrada crus, Passopisciaro’s portfolio boasts the prestigious Franchetti cuvée, composed of Petit Verdot and Cesanese d’Affile.

Andrea Franchetti also owns Tenuta di Trinoro, in Sarteano in Tuscany’s magnificent Val d’Orcia, famous for its legendary Bordeaux blend named after the estate.

DURELLA SPARKLING, LIKE A GOOD MUSIC

The Durella, an ancient vineyard, is said to date back to 1200.

It belongs to the Veronese Prealps and is best expressed and enhanced by the classic method. A thick skin, an important acidity at times almost angular.

With its wild and vigorous, exuberant and dynamic nature, does it make us think of something?

More than the description of a wine it would seem that of a music!

Music and wine. Wine and music, an ancient combination, an ancestral link.

“Let’s free in the happy glasses”, from Giuseppe Verdi’s Traviata, “But how beautiful wine is ….” by Piero Ciampi.

A powerful bond, a perfect match, even if risky, helps us to enter into what the wine wants to tell us!

Each person has their own music, each wine has its own song and this can influence their perception, taste, memory, mood.

And if Durella were music, what song would it be?

A symphony n.41 by Mozart? With harmonious and balanced proportions in perfect Mozartian style and contrasts between slow movements and sequences of timbral oppositions.

What’s love go to do with it by Tina Turner? Iconic, physical, logical! Sparkling and wild, Make my pulse react!

Bandiera Bianca, by Franco Battiato? Political, revealing, who aims at spiritual development, with a solid rhythm and a decisive and energetic attitude.

Stop and listen, three music and three different shades, tasting Durello Lessini sparkling classic method, because Durella is like good music!

Sanna Sebastiano

Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2019

All the elegance of the Mediterranean

Upbeat and generous is how Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2019 makes an appearance after a year in the cellar divided between wood, concrete and steel and 12 months bottle ageing. Predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with a touch of Vermentino and Verdicchio, this Ornellaia white wine is an elegant expression of the care and style maintained by the estate. The grapes grow in small parcels along the Tuscan coast surrounded by Mediterranean shrub, gravel lanes and maritime pines.

“Poggio alle Gazze 2019 is the result of a late harvest,” winemaker Olga Fusari comments. “The extended harvest times proved favourable to the aromatic expression of the wine, which we find in the intense notes of citrus and exotic fruit accompanied by scent of freshly mowed grass and asparagus. The palate is vibrant and refreshing with a lingering mineral finish.”

2019 was characterised by highly variable conditions, which alternated periods of cold and rain with bouts of drought and heat, resulting in a ten-day delay in the budbreak. Growth resumed in June after long, sunny days. The weather remained fine for the rest of the summer, with the exception of two days of rain in late July, which restored the temperatures to the seasonal average and provided perfect conditions for the gradual and full ripening of the bunches. The Sauvignon Blanc harvest began on 19th of August and continued until the first days of September, while the Vermentino and Verdicchio, as later ripening varieties, reached peak maturity in mid-September.

The care taken with the grapes and their growth in the vineyard before cellaring reflect a deep respect for the ecosystem aimed at maintaining its stability, nurturing the integrity of the soil and the self-regulation of the vines. Everything at Ornellaia is done with attention and awareness centred on sustainability, which includes vineyard management at nature’s pace and the wellbeing of the winery’s employees.

Combined with the coastal microclimate, these elements result in the uniquely personable wines produced at Ornellaia: a chorus of multiple voices that convey the beauty, influence of the sea and light. The winemaking processes pay the utmost respect to the grapes and the result is always beguiling. “Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia owes its elegant Mediterranean style to the unique microclimate that we have here at Ornellaia,” Estate Director Axel Heinz explains. “This authentic gift of nature enables us to craft a wine that vaunts a sumptuous body with ripe, fruity notes in a style of great finesse, which is the hallmark of Ornellaia.”

After this long journey from vineyard to bottle, the 2019 vintage will occupy centre stage in a new project in the finest restaurants along the Italian coast. For “Ambasciatori di Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia” (Ambassadors of Poggio alle Gazze), 10 chefs will devise a special dish to showcase the personality of the wine. The restaurants will include a vertical tasting of four vintages of Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia on the wine list and an especially paired recipe on the menu.

Vinchio Vaglio: the Nest of Barbera

The story of the Vinchio and Vaglio winery is a love story where the inhabitants of these two villages transformed a difficult and poor, inarable land with slopes so steep that some local sayings proved true: “S’ot dròca la colassion, it la treuvi pì!” (if you drop your breakfast, you won’t find it again!) or “S’ot dròca ël bertin, ot toca curije drera fin ant la val” (if your hat blows off in the wind, you’ll need to run down to the end of the valley to get it”). The name results from both Vinchio and Vaglio Serra villages where 19 vine growers used to live and founded the cooperative in 1959. The winery is located in Piedmont, Monferrato, core zone of UNESCO World Heritage Patrimony, right at the foot of the Alps. This area with its steep slopes and overhanging vineyards at the edge of the woods has been tended and “tamed” to dramatic effort, where every single drop of the “Ruby of Vinchio” (Barbera wine) equates to thousands of drops (and certainly not an exaggeration!) of farmers’ sweat. However, the vineyards have never failed to reward their hard work. These vine rows, in fact, repay the industrious farmers with grapes of rare and exceptional quality. Nowadays the cooperative represents 192 family vine growers who take daily care of 450 hectares mostly planted in Barbera grapes (60% of our production) and all other indigenous grapes from Piedmont such as Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Ruché, Albarossa, Grignolino, Arneis, Cortese, Moscato and Brachetto. The territory is characterized by a distinctive terroir of calcareous soils and sandy soils in Vinchio and mostly clay soils in Vaglio Serra what makes the Barbera of Vinchio Vaglio unique for the structure (white soils), elegance (sandy soils) and aromas (clay soils). The sun usually shines all day on these hills, there is seldom hoarfrost or fog and no shadow. Great wines grow on these hills.

Monterosola, award-winning wines from ancient land

Situated on a plateau at 430 meters altitude, above two ancient, wooded valleys with far-reaching views to the coast. Monterosola “hill of poppies” is one of Tuscany’s finest contemporary wineries.

Resting on a hillside overlooking the medieval city of Volterra, the Monterosola estate combines traditional winemaking techniques with state-of-the art technology. Just 50km from the coastal region of Bolgheri and 30km from the world-famous hills of Chianti, Monterosola sits amidst some of the best wine growing locations in the world.

Monterosola has its own complex microclimate which provides vines with the optimum growing conditions. Here, a regular breeze promotes the natural health and energy of the vines, which, in turn, produce the very best grapes.

With 25 hectares of vineyards producing both white and red wines, the estate also has olive groves, woodlands, gardens, lakes and pastures.

A destination winery

The estate has been producing excellent wines since 2003 yet it entered an exciting era in 2013 when the land was purchased by the Thomaeus family who recognised the true potential of the terroir. In 2015 the family embarked on an impressive project, to design and build a grand-scale cantina with purpose-built facilities for wine tastings and events.

At Monterosola the wine production methods are supervised by Alberto Antonini who has previously worked with some of Italy’s most prestigious cantinas including Antinori and Frescobaldi.  

 

MASTIO

A beautiful rich ruby in colour with elements of ripe fruits on the nose with a hint of red cherry, strawberries almonds and green herbs. A well-balanced combination of elegance and intensity on the palate with soft tannins and a generous aftertaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 CRESCENDO

Deep garnet colour with flavours of rich cherries, dried herbs, sweet oak, spices, black tea and toasted almonds. Both intense and complex on the palate it is powerful yet refined with a lengthy finish. Crescendo has great aging potential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 CASSERO

A sophisticated single variety Vermentino, straw yellow coloured with youthful green highlights. Enjoys an elegant and consistent aroma with hints of white flowers, grapefruit, pear, white peach and a pleasing minerality. Fresh and well balanced on the palate with a lingering light finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 PRIMO PASSO

A warm light golden colour. Intense and elegant aromas come to the fore, ripe apricot, peach, citrus zest and minerality evolve into a hint of sweet spice. A generous, silky and balanced wine with an authentic personality. Remarkable aftertaste.

http://www.monterosola.com

Ornellaia & Masseto CEO Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja announces a new Sales and Marketing Director

Today, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, CEO of both the Ornellaia and Masseto estates, announced a change in the management team for the two wineries. Vianney Gravereaux will join the team as Sales and Marketing Director alongside Axel Heinz, Estate Director, as of 1 April 2021. Tim Banks, who has held the position to date, will return to France, where he will continue to work in the wine world.

After nine years of close collaboration, Tim Banks receives a warm farewell: “I thank Tim personally for his professional contribution to the company’s success as well as his personal contribution in forming a team and relations, for which he will not be forgotten easily,” confirms Giovanni Geddes. “At the same time, I am delighted to continue this journey with Vianney. I’m certain that we will achieve new goals together.”

Vianney Gravereaux, French by birth but multilingual by vocation, has vast international experience in the fine wine world, which he honed while working for globally renowned brands such as Philipponnat, Salon and Peugeot Saveurs. Formerly International Sales Manager for Masseto, Gravereaux was asked to take on the new role, an offer which he has enthusiastically embraced: “When I visited Ornellaia a few years ago, I was astounded by the exceptional quality of the wines and the place where they are made. I never thought that I would become part of the impressive Masseto team in 2020 and that, only a year later, I would have been offered the role of Sales and Marketing Director for both estates. Continuing the work carried out by Tim Banks will be an exciting challenge, which I cannot wait to begin.”

Ornellaia’s current team consists of winemaker Olga Fusari and Brand Manager Greta Roscioni; Eleonora Marconi and Susanne Weber hold these positions respectively at Masseto. Elena Oprea is the Communications Manager across both brands.

Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2019

 

Vibrant and expressive, released on 1st March

Many components define the style of Ornellaia, the renowned Bolgheri estate, but the underlying philosophy is reflected in all the wines produced on the estate. Le Volte dell’Ornellaia is no exception. A predominantly Merlot-based cuvée, Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2019 is “a vibrant, expressive and well-balanced wine, the perfect introduction to Ornellaia for every wine lover”,according to estate director,Axel Heinz.

2019 was characterized by a highly variable climate, which alternated cold and wet spells with long bouts of drought and heat. After a normal winter, budbreak took place in the first week of April. The rainy conditions throughout April and May slightly delayed flowering compared to usual, but plant development recovered in June due to bright days. All summer long, the weather remained hot and sunny, except for two days of rain in late July, which readjusted the temperature to the seasonal norm with ideal conditions for the gradual and complete ripening of the grapes.

The harvest began with the Merlot on 5th September and the last of the Cabernet reached the cellar on 4th October. As usual, in the last week of September, falling temperatures preserved the vintage’s finesse and aromatic freshness. The different grapes were fermented separately in small steel tanks in order to maintain their varietal characteristics. The wine was then aged for 10 months, partly in barriques used previously for Ornellaia and partly in concrete tanks.

Versatile and immediate, “Le Volte dell’Ornellaia combines a Mediterranean expression of generosity with structure and complexity,” winemaker Olga Fusari comments. “With its bright ruby red, intense scents of red berries and rose petals are clearly distinguishable on the nose, while on the palate the taste is full-bodied and enveloping, characterized by dense tannins and a vibrant acidity which make this a pleasing and enjoyable wine”. Le Volte dell’Ornellaia 2019 will be available on all markets, ready to bring joy to wine lovers on these early sun-filled days.

Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia” Red coral for the artist’s interpretation of the vintage’s character

Jan Fabre for Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista

“The 2018 vintage resulted in wines of particular harmony,” comments Axel Heinz, Estate Director of the Bolgheri winery. “Synergy and interaction among the varied terroirs on the estate created proportion and complexity. The outcome is a rounded and silky wine in which all the elements blend together in an expression of grace and beauty.” In tribute to this sense of proportion and symmetry, Axel Heinz has called the character of Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia”.

Belgian artist Jan Fabre was called upon to interpret this trait in his role as an eclectic and innovative figure on the international art scene. Continually seeking convergences across a range of disciplines, Fabre offers an original and personal interpretation of visual art, taking cues from theatre, literature and the world of symbolism.

Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia” is the expression of a perfectly balanced vintage. After unusually hot, dry seasons, the earth finally received the rainfall and winter cold needed to rest and reset the vine’s lifecycle. The spring enjoyed occasional showers, which renewed the protective layer of the vineyard, while the summer proved dry, encouraging fruit set and culminating in veraison on clear, sunny days in late July. Healthy grapes benefitting from a superb balance of acidity and sugars were harvested between 31 August and 8 October.

Taking inspiration from Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia” as a “divine gift of nature and a balance of symmetry and proportion,” Jan Fabre used his trademark style and coral, the precious golden red of the Gulf of Naples, for the sculptures that top three Salmanazars (9 litres): A Candle of Mercy, The Crown of Kindness, and The Heart of Virtue. “I believe that art should conciliate ethical values and aesthetic principles,” explains the Belgian artist. “For this reason, I decided to use forms such as the heart, crown, candle and wings in the sculptures for Ornellaia 2018. These are symbols of passion, virtue and purity, which come alive by means of twigs and red coral pearls; in “A Candle of Mercy” or “The Heart of Virtue” they liquefy, like the melting grace of Ornellaia wine.”

In addition to the coral artworks for the 111 precious large formats of Ornellaia, Jan Fabre has also designed a special label for the 750ml bottles and a site-specific installation for the winery’s dining room Orciaia: a set of drawings inspired by the sculptures and their symbolism.

Accompanied by the other large formats, only one of the three Salmanazars of Ornellaia 2018 “La Grazia”, which was named by the artist “The Crown of Kindness”, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in September 2021. Collectors around the world will be able to place bids online on the lots and have their purchases delivered directly from the evocative Bolgheri winery.

For the third consecutive year, profits will be given to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s “Mind’s Eye” project.

Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine says: “This is our 13th partnership with Ornellaia for their annual Vendemmia d’Artista project, which is so special to us because it supports worthy artistic causes and combines the brilliance of the estate’s wines with the visual ingenuity of the artists who take part. With its emphasis on the senses, the Mind’s Eye project has been the ideal beneficiary these past three years. We look forward to offering a range of bottles from the 2018 vintage “La Grazia”, illustrated by Jan Fabre, in our online sale later this year, headlined, as ever, by a unique Salmanazar. As in previous years, we expect the lots to attract an international group of bidders who wish to purchase these exclusive bottles and enjoy unique experiences.”

The profits made by Vendemmia d’Artista allow the Mind’s Eye program to be extended both on site at the Guggenheim as well as online and ensure that its excellence continues to guide museum programming in different parts of the world.

“With the continued support of Ornellaia, the Guggenheim has been able to amplify the reach and resonance of our Mind’s Eye program,” said Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “Ornellaia has helped us remain connected to our visitors through increased access programming and the creation of a new digital sensory guide that shares the experience of being at the museum with an ever-widening global audience. We speak for the many beneficiaries of Ornellaia’s generosity in expressing real gratitude.”

Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja, CEO of the Bolgheri winery says: “Since the introduction of Vendemmia d’Artista project in 2009, we have donated more than 2 million euros. It is deeply rewarding to see the program develop and know that the work we are doing gives the blind and persons with low vision an opportunity to discover contemporary art through the use of the senses. At the same time, the Mind’s Eye program will soon offer the possibility to extend the same model not only to other museums belonging to the Guggenheim Foundation, but also to art institutions in the rest of the world, thereby making art accessible to even more people.”

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