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From 29 August to 13 September, eleven precious lots of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016, “La Tensione” were auctioned off. All profits went to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the “Mind’s Eye” program


Last Friday evening at the headquarters of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in the spectacular Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the ceremony was held which marked the conclusion of the online auction of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016, “La Tensione”, hosted by Sotheby’s. Thanks to this initiative, conceived by Ornellaia in collaboration with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 312.000 $ were collected, with profits entirely allocated to the “Mind’s Eye” program.


The “Mind’s Eye” program, conceived by the Guggenheim’s education department, helps blind and visually impaired people to experience art through the use of all the senses. This promotes the development of creative impressions, emotional connections and memories, the perception of which lasts over time. As in art, the appreciation of great wines requires the involvement of all the senses. The sharing of this idea has led Ornellaia to support the growth of this particular program. The donations collected through Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista enable the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to further develop the activities of the “Mind’s Eye” program with the aim of spreading the model to other art institutions, ensuring that its excellence continues to guide the museum’s programming for the blind and visually impaired throughout the world.


During the closing ceremony of the auction, which gave bidders the chance to win the precious nine 6-litre Imperials and the only 9-litre Salmanazar of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016, created by the internationally renowned artist Shirin Neshat, Ornellaia’s CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja declared with satisfaction: “The appreciation of great wines, as well as the enjoyment of art, requires the involvement of all the senses, and that’s why we decided to support a high-value project like “Mind’s Eye”. In so doing, we are able to help adults with disabilities to experience art by means of activities which, through the use of the senses, provide a model of access to art that can be implemented worldwide and a legacy for future generations”.


Words shared by Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, who added: “The founding mission of the Guggenheim has been to collect and exhibit art that was not simply modern, not just new, but revolutionary. Thanks to Ornellaia, we are able involve an even wider public in this mission”. 


Tension is the character chosen to define the wine produced by the 2016 grape harvest, a highly successful vintage which, according to the Director of Ornellaia, Axel Heinz “highlights all the virtues of the climate of Bolgheri: abundant sunshine, not excessive heat, a dry summer which allows the grapes to reach a perfect level of ripeness, concentration and sufficient rain to avoid water stress. All these elements combined allow us to obtain a perfectly mature and opulent wine, firm and intense; opposite forces create a sense of deep vigour which we like to call “tension”. 


These are the notes on which Shirin Neshat worked to provide his interpretation of Tension. 

The artist was inspired by the Persian poet Omar Khayyām, who claimed that wine should be “enjoyed during our short time on earth”. His work theme is declined through elements of Middle Eastern culture such as female faces, hands and bodies decorated with Persian calligraphy and henna decorations in continuity with the poetics of the artist.


The Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista project celebrates the exclusive character of each new Ornellaia vintage. Every year, starting with the release of Ornellaia 2006 in May 2009, a contemporary artist has signed a work of art and a series of limited edition labels, drawing inspiration from a word chosen by the winemaker and which describes the character of the new vintage.

The project provides that in each case of Ornellaia, one of the six bottles (750 ml) bears the label created by the artist. As in previous years, the project includes a limited edition of 111 large-size bottles (one hundred 3-litre Double Magnums, ten 6-litre Imperial bottles and one 9-litre Salmanazar) numbered and signed personally by the artist. Every year a selection of these bottles with exclusive labels, designed and signed personally by the artist and extremely sought after by art and wine collectors, are auctioned at SOTHEBY’S, for both charity and commercial purposes; the proceeds are donated to art foundations around the world. From ORNELLAIA 2006 to the present day, a total of over two million dollars has been shared out between the Whitney Museum in New York, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the H2 Foundation in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the Royal Opera House in London, the AGO Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York.

Opera House in London, die AGO Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, die Beyeler Fondation in Basel, das Hammer Museum in Los Angeles und das Guggenheim in New York gespendet.


The Triumph of Italian Raw Milk Productions at Cheese 2019



Slow Food presents the 12th edition of the world’s premier cheese event in Bra, Italy from September 20-23. This year’s theme: “Natural is Possible” 


With more than 200 exhibitors, 50 Presidia and a dedicated cheese Market, Italy is without doubt the guest of honor at Cheese 2019. Cheese – the international event dedicated to natural cheeses produced with raw milk and without artificial enzymes in sachets, which are thus richer in biodiversity and more authentic expressions of their areas of origin –gathers cheesemakers and exhibitors from more than 30 countries.


Twenty years have passed since the presentation of the first cheese Presidium: Roccaverano goat milk cheese.

Today there are 70 Presidia dedicated to cheese in Italy, the country with the greatest number of such projects. It’s also the country where Slow Food has started a dairy revolution, to give raw milk the value it deserves and affirm the importance of biodiversity in cheesemaking. In 2019 Slow Food commits to supporting the growth of natural cheese and presents new Presidia at Italian Presidia: 20 Years of the Cheesemaking Revolution.

The products of mountain dairies, commonly known as “malga” in Italian, offer the best guarantee of naturalness in cheese: healthy animals raised on fresh grass, whose milk is worked with traditional processes.

Among the great variety of mountain cheeses present at the event will be the Historic Rebel Cheese, which is also a Slow Food Presidium. The cheesemakers who work in mountain dairies, located at altitudes between 1400 and 2000 meters, have preserved traditional practices that exalt the quality of the cheese and play a fundamental role in preserving the Alpine environment and biodiversity. There will also be the Robiola di Roccaverano, the only historic Italian goat cheese, and Montébore, made in a wedding-cake shape, whose production had stopped entirely 30 years ago when the last producer closed her business. Then, in 1999, a young man, Roberto Grattone, tracked down the last keeper of the ancient Montébore recipe and Slow Food started the Presidium to protect and promote this resurrected specialty.


Cheese 2019 will also talk about Sardinian herders and their struggle to survive the recent collapse in milk prices. In this relatively small land there are three million sheep, whose high-quality milk reflects the rich biodiversity of the island’s pastures, but this milk is predominantly sold to cooperative dairies which use it to make Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Sardo (both European PDOs). The only way forwards means going back: to small-scale raw milk cheesemaking that respects the land and delivers high-quality products that can be sold at the right price. A dedicated workshop explores the finest examples of Sardinian cheesemaking art through Slow Food Presidia, including two sheep cheeses, Shepherds’ Fiore Sardo and Osilo Pecorino, and the stretched-curd cow milk Casizolu, as well as rarities from the Ark of Taste like the Axridda cheese, which is covered in a layer of clay (or axridda, in the Sardinian language) to protect it from high temperatures.


Ancient pastoral traditions are still alive in the countryside around the the city of Rome, where unique products express a strong connection with the land. Several cheeses from the area will be available to taste, among them Roman Countryside Caciofiore, an ancestor of Pecorino Romano made by adding vegetable rennet obtained from the flowers of globe artichokes or cardoons to raw milk, and Marzolina, a goat cheese matured for months in a glass demijohn under olive oil and today made just by two producers.

Another tasting will highlight some of the finest cheeses being made by young Italian producers with Milk in their Veins, keeping their family traditions alive through sacrifice and with great passion. Another young Italian, Juri Chiotti, who has decided to return to the mountains after gaining a Michelin star, leads the workshop on Alpine Valley Goat Cheeses.


During the workshop Natural is Possible: Raw Milk Cheese Without Starters and Triple A Wines, a selection of great Italian natural raw milk cheeses will be tasted: Castel del Monte Canestrato (a Slow Food Presidium from Abruzzo), Madonie Provola (a Slow Food Presidium from Sicily), Carmasciano (an Ark of Taste product from Campania), Grappa Mountain Morlacco (a Slow Food Presidium from Veneto), and Robiola di Roccaverano.


Another workshop will be dedicated to The Forms of Whey. Whey is the liquid part of milk which separates from the curd during cheesemaking. Containing lactose, protein and mineral salts, some of it is reused to make starters and for the production of ricotta. Tastings of the Valnerina Ricotta Salata, a Slow Food Presidium, will be available. This Presidium wants to support the recovery of farmers who were seriously affected by the earthquakes that hit Central Italy in 2016 and 2017. In addition, Saras del Fen will be available for tasting. The cheese became a Presidium to support producers who belong to the Waldensian religious minority that has been living in these mountains for hundreds of years.


And also: the “King of Cheese”, aka Parmigiano Reggiano, will have its moment of glory during a dedicated workshop in which different stages of maturity will be tasted. Buffalo milk will also be explored in another workshop where buffalo mozzarella PDO, buffalo ricotta PDO, and the vintage plate of chef Vittorio Fusari (mozzarella, oysters and sea water) will be tasted in combination with some great yet relatively-undiscovered white wines from Piedmont.


And it’s not just cheese at Cheese! In fact, Slow Food will present the first two Italian Slow Food Travel territories: the Biella Mountains and the Upper Tanaro Valleys. Slow Food Travel is a territorial project that focuses on food and its production, promoting travel experiences that are consistent with the philosophy of good, clean and fair.


Moreover, since there no discussion of Italian cuisine would be complete without pizza, a team of women will animate the Pizza, Bread and Pastry Forge, a space completely dedicated to pizzaioli, pastry chefs and bakers.



From 29 August to 13 September, 11 valuable lots of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016 “La Tensione” will go under the auctioneer’s hammer online, with the profits donated to expand the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s “Mind’s Eye” programme.


The online auction of the valuable bottles of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016 designed by renowned artist Shirin Neshat, begins today.


To mark the eleventh edition of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista, the American artist of Iranian origin, Shirin Neshat, has interpreted the vintage character of Ornellaia 2016 – “La Tensione.” With her destabilising and poetic visual language, the photographer, video artist, and director alludes to the strength and dynamism of this vintage using the verses of the illustrious 11th century Persian poet, Omar Khayyām. These works of art will be auctioned off online at Sotheby’s from 29 August to 13 September. Collectors from all over the world can vie to take home a work of art and a wine of exceptional value, while displaying a gesture of outstanding generosity. The profits from the auction will be donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to support the innovative “Mind’s Eye” programme.


“Over the past ten years,” explains Ornellaia’s CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaia, “Ornellaia has donated over two million dollars to different institutions in the art world: from the Whitney Museum in New York to the Neue National Galerie in Berlin, from the Fondation Beyeler in Basel to the Royal Opera House in London and the H2 Foundation in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Beginning in 2019, we wanted to contribute to the development of artistic perception for the blind or low-vision persons, and therefore we decided to become a supporter of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Mind’s Eye programme.”


This sponsorship and the end of the auction will be celebrated with an exclusive gala event taking place at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in the spectacular Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.


The international auction is open to the public; anyone can place a bid by simply registering at http://www.sothebys.com/ornellaia. The profits from the online auction will be announced at 8 p.m. on 13 September at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

“Sotheby’s Wine is proud to participate in the eleventh edition of Ornellaia’s superb Vendemmia d’Artista art program. We have enjoyed incredibly special events in New York (2010 & 2017), Hong Kong (2012), London (2013 & 2018), Toronto (2014), Basel (2015) and Los Angeles (2016), each of which was wholly unique and exciting, in the same way that every vintage has its own distinct character. These unique large-format bottles will find homes in new cellars and will always remind their new owners of the joys of bringing wine, food, art and friendship together.” Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head, Sotheby’s Wine


The “Mind’s Eye” programme created by the Guggenheim education department, helps blind and low vision persons experience art by using all the senses. This encourages the development of creative expressions, emotional connections and memories, the perception of which lasts over time. As in art, the appreciation of great wines also requires the involvement of all the senses. It is precisely this idea that prompted Ornellaia to support the growth of this particular programme.

The donations collected through Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista will allow the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to further develop the activities of the “Mind’s Eye” programme with the aim of extending the model to other art institutions, ensuring its excellence in favour of blind and low vision people all over the world.


The harvest began at the Bolgheri estate with the youngest Sauvignon Blanc vineyards. A late year, but it promises to be high quality.


The 34th harvest of Ornellaia began last Monday and, as usual, the first grapes to be picked were the youngest Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, while for the reds we will have to wait until the beginning of September.

The Estate Director Axel Heinz commented: “Up to today, the weather of the 2019 growing year has been a ‘roller coaster’. After a particularly cool spring, the start of growth was delayed for over a week, and this delay continued until the flowering, in the first days of June. Immediately afterwards came a very hot June and July, among the warmest and driest in recent history, with substantial rains at the end of the month that interrupted the long period of drought. Veraison has since completed in all the vineyards and harvest has begun“.

He continued: “It is still early to make a prognosis on the vintage’s quality level, and the weather conditions of the second half of August and the month of September will certainly have an effect. Meanwhile, we can confirm that this harvest is a late one; we started with the younger Sauvignon Blanc vineyards that go into production this year, while for the other whites we will begin harvesting between the last week of August and the first of September. We will wait until the beginning of September to harvest the reds, between the first and second week, but everything bodes wonderfully”.


At Ornellaia, enthusiasm for the harvest is quite visible, once picking started with the Sauvignon Blanc, an important variety for the winery and part of Ornellaia Bianco and Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia, the two white wines produced by the estate with the same attention to quality as the well-known red wines.


We realized more and more that there’s space for intriguing whites if you are selective and choose the right sites,” confirmed Heinz.

In 2002, production of the single-variety Sauvignon Blanc “Poggio alle Gazze” ceased altogether. However, Axel Heinz’s intuition upon arrival in 2005 led to a change of heart with respect to the estate’s white wines, and the first vintage of the new “Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia” was released in 2010 (2008 vintage). Several years of continuous research and development led to the launch of Ornellaia Bianco (2013 vintage).

Africa-Europe cookbook: the ultimate diplomatic tool to bring two continents to the table

The Delegation of the European Union to the African Union launches a book with 70 recipes from African and European countries, cooked up by AU and EU Commissioners and EU Member State Ambassadors.

What do Hungarian goulash, Spanish gazpacho and Congolese Saka Saka have in common? As typical recipes from their countries, they are unique expressions of diverse cultural identities, but there is something else: all of them share the magical power of food to create social bonds around a table. From Finish Lapland to South African Cape Agulhas, Europeans and Africans alike share the passion for good food. Then, why not use this “delicious” diplomatic tool to strengthen friendship and understanding between these two continents? That is exactly the intention of the Delegation of the European Union to the African Union: they have just published an Africa-Europe Cookbook with a selection of recipes from the two continents prepared by AU and EU Commissioners, AU and EU Member State Ambassadors and other diplomats based across Africa.

“Those who are engaged daily in the relationship between Africa and Europe see diversity as an attraction, not a challenge”, says Ranieri Sabatucci, the EU Ambassador to the African Union, who prepared himself a Lasagne al Forno to represent Italian cuisine in the cookbook. “Culture in general and food in particular are essential elements of this diversity. But food also has a unique ability to connect people, to make them feel closer. Complex negotiations and business deals always include a meal. It is on these occasions that trust, friendship and understanding are established”.

Food memories: a tasty way to get to know people

The cookbook is a collection of recipes from 70 African and European countries. The colour and flavour of each dish tells us a story, and it is not only about their places of origin, but also about the people who prepared it and their emotional attachments to food. For instance, those reading the book will find out that Commissioner Ansip cannot imagine summer in Estonia without picking wild chanterelle mushrooms, the same ones he used to cook a typical Kukeseenekaste (Chanterelle sauce). “Every family has their own secret places where to pick fresh chanterelle mushrooms – these places are guarded sacredly and information is not shared with just anybody”, he reveals.

For Commissioner Crețu, traditional Romanian Sarmale (cabbage rolls with pork and rice) works exactly as Proust’s famous madeleines did: “the smell of Sarmale emanating from a kitchen brings me back to my childhood years”, she says about a dish that her family used to cook for Christmas, weddings or birthday parties when she was a child.

EU Delegation to AU@EUtoAU

We’re thrilled to see all your positive reactions to our Africa-Europe Cookbook! Have you already tried our Ambassador @SabatucciEU ’s lasagne recipe? Buonissimo! bit.ly/2LVNBgd @eu_eeas

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Some delegations invited renowned chefs or other local personalities to cook the recipes together. Frédéric Bontems, Ambassador of France to Ethiopia, teamed up with Ethiopian chef Yohanis to prepare an orange-nigella religieuse, a French dessert fused with traditional Ethiopian ingredients. The cooking session took place at the global Goût de France / Good France culinary event, and was featured on Chef Yohanis’ cooking show on Ethiopian TV.

EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, took the chance to invite Senator Binta Masi Garba, the only female senator from the 19 states of Northern Nigeria. They cooked Green Gazpacho, a cold soup prepared with local vegetables and herbs invented by Karlsen, and a pumpkin-less version of Miyan Taush, a Nigerian traditional soup.

These are just a few of the stories behind a book that will surely encourage Africans and Europeans to get to know each other better and realize that, beyond our cultural differences, we are all human beings who share a common passion no matter where we live: having a good meal!

 Passopisciaro, Mount Etna Passorosso and Passobianco 2017


“The 2017 growing season was exceptionally hot, even on Mount Etna,” commented Andrea Franchetti, the oenologist who was one of just a handful of pioneers to recognise the winemaking potential of the volcano’s utterly unique soils and climate. His research led him to select 26 hectares of terraced vineyards that today constitute the Passopisciaro wine estate. “Nonetheless,” he continued, ”that intense heat, which continued unabated into September, with diurnal temperature fluctuations less marked than usual, had no negative impact at all on wine quality; rather, the marriage of the site’s unique conditions of sunlight, elevation and volcanic soils retained its determining influence and yielded wines of powerful character.”      


Passorosso 2017

Passorosso 2017, 100% Nerello Mascalese, is an eloquent interpretation of its Etna home, and in particular of the villages of Malpasso, Guardiola, Santo Spirito, Favazza, and Arcuria, lying at elevations of 500 to 1100 feet. Soils in the highest zones are composed of large-size gravel, while those lower down are deeper and finer-grained, derived from ancient lava flows. In 2017, ripening in the vineyards was slow and gradual, and harvest arrived slightly early, between 20 and 29 October. Following fermentation in steel, Passorosso concluded malolactic in large oak ovals, where it matured over some 18 months. The wine boasts an ultra-crisp acidity and earthy minerality, impressive structure and body, and restrained alcohol.   



Passobianco 2017

The all-Chardonnay Passobianco 2017 is grown in four hectares at an elevation of 850-1000 metres, where the steep terraces in the Guardiola district offer loose, deep soils of lava derivation with high mineral content. During the 2017 season, the Chardonnay vines required spray irrigation at night to ward off heat stress, and harvest came early, between 13 and 30 August, bringing yields that were lower than normal but with concentrated fruit. The must fermented 20 days at around 23°C in steel, then Passobianco matured for 10 months in both concrete vats and large oak ovals. Today, it is crisp and zesty, with its prominent tropical fruit promising significant longevity.       


When Andrea Franchetti met Mount Etna, the offspring of the encounter was Passopisciaro. In 2000, Franchetti began to reconstitute the terraced vineyards of Nerello Mascalese, successively planting new vineyards at densities of 12,000 vines per hectare and then restructuring a building, at 800 metres’ elevation, that would eventually become the Passopisciaro winecellar. Thus began Etna’s winemaking renaissance. Andrea Franchetti was likewise the proponent of the concept of the “vini di Contrada,” or wines reflecting the various individual districts, which today is celebrated by the international-level event “Le Contrade dell’Etna” that focuses on the Nerello grape.

Today, the Passopisciaro estate relies 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. Eight wines are produced. In addition to Passorosso and Passobianco, the portfolio boasts five crus: the contrade of Chiappemacine, Porcaria, Guardiola, Sciaranuova, and Rampante, plus the prestigious Franchetti, a marriage of Petit Verdot and Cesanese d’Affile. Andrea Franchetti is the owner of Tenuta di Trinoro as well, located at Sarteano (Val D’Orcia) in Tuscany, famous for its Bordeaux blend wine of the same name.

Début of Tenuta di Trinoro vintage 2017, flanked by a new Bianco

2017 was a challenging growing year. Even a unique environmental niche such as the Val d’Orcia had to confront, like the rest of Italy, three months of intense summer heat, made more severe by a lack of groundwater reserves, the result of the previous relatively dry winter. But the Tenuta di Trinoro team was successful in meeting the challenge, demonstrating determined, expert vineyard management that put into practice every tenet of the production philosophy of Andrea Franchetti, winery founder and creator of wines unique for their concentration, depth, and complexity.   


Thanks to the lengthy, hot season, there was certainly no lack of concentration in the fruit. At harvest, begun 27 September and concluded 13 October, the berries were small, with thick skins and little juice, and their wines emerged near-opaque, black, and concentrated. It required waiting some months before they could be evaluated properly and a final blend assembled, which privileged Cabernet Franc, at 69%, assisted by 23% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.   

Tenuta di Trinoro 2017 is full-bodied with fine depth, “and dense-packed, silky tannins; the palate showcases well-ripened plum and blueberry, with wild herb and iron-like impressions,” explained Franchetti. Some years of bottle-ageing will allow it to achieve full expression and “to lose those slight vegetal notes that, of course, are classic to the two Cabernets.”    

2017 also marks the debut—at least to the markets – of the Tenuta’s Bianco, a one-of-a-kind, 100% Semillon that grows in a tiny, sandy-soil parcel at an elevation of 630 metres and with a very tight, 1 x 1 metre layout. The pronounced aromatic qualities classic to the variety are nicely balanced in the grapes by a forward crispness and acidity, producing a wine that is concentrated yet taut, displaying great depth and promising significant cellarability.  


Tenuta di Trinoro. Located near Sarteano, at the entrance to the Val d’Orcia, in southeast Tuscany, the estate boasts 16 vineyard parcels, totaling some 25 hectares, planted at elevations of 450-650 metres. Tenuta di Trinoro is a Bordeaux-style cuvée that has always been the estate’s keystone wine. Its portfolio also includes Le Cupole, a younger and more accessible wine from the estate vineyards; I Campi, from three parcels of Cabernet Franc; the all-Merlot Palazzi; and, debuting with the 2017 vintage, Bianco di Trinoro.      

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