Ornellaia auctions “Il Carisma” 2015 bottles by artist William Kentridge

Limited edition designs are a rare find for art and wine lovers – and raise funds for the arts at V&A bash

The limited edition Ornellaia 2015 bottles feature labels by the acclaimed artist, whose designs were inspired by taking part in a Tuscan harvest
The limited edition Ornellaia 2015 bottles feature labels by the acclaimed artist, whose designs were inspired by taking part in a Tuscan harvest

The 2015 vintage has been hailed as stellar for Super Tuscans, and on Wednesday May 23 lovers of art and fine wine will have the chance to snap up one of the best when a limited number of Ornellaia 2015 bottles by artist William Kentridge are auctioned at the Victoria & Albert Museum at a special gala fundraiser.

William Kentridge in his studio
William Kentridge in his studio

The Kentridge designs mark the 10th chapter in Ornellaia’s Vendemmia d’Artista project, an ongoing series of collaborations with artists, which has raised more than €2m for museums and art foundations across the world. Nine Ornellaia lots will be auctioned in total, with all proceeds going to support the work of the V&A.

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South African William Kentridge has achieved international acclaim for his art, which uses drawing, film, sculpture, animation and performance to create allegorical, often highly political work. To mark Ornellaia’s 30th anniversary, he was invited to create a special installation for the estate, as well as artwork for a limited edition, signed series of 111 large-format bottles, including double magnums, imperials and a nine-litre salmanazar. Each six-bottle case of 2015 Ornellaia will also contain one limited edition label by the artist.

There are 111 large-format bottles in the auction, including double magnums, imperials and one nine-litre salmanazar, and this latest design is part of an ongoing series of collaborations with artists
There are 111 large-format bottles in the auction, including double magnums, imperials and one nine-litre salmanazar, and this latest design is part of an ongoing series of collaborations with artists

Kentridge says his designs for the 2015 were inspired by the experience of taking part in a Tuscan vendemmia, or harvest. “This made me understand the human labour involved in making the wine. The aspects of winemaking that combine both manual craft and mechanical processes suggested the transformation of people into machines and machines into workers.” The labels feature line drawings of secateurs, antique bottle openers and harvest workers drawn on pages from old Italian cash books found in Tuscan flea markets and second-hand shops. They form “part of an ongoing series of drawings and other work about human labour”, he says.

Kentridge’s design features line drawings of secateurs, antique bottle openers and harvest workers drawn on pages from old Italian cash books
Kentridge’s design features line drawings of secateurs, antique bottle openers and harvest workers drawn on pages from old Italian cash books

“2015 is without doubt one of the great Ornellaia vintages,” says the estate’s winemaking team, who have dubbed the vintage “Il Carisma” in honour of its charm and generosity. “The usual 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. On the palate, it is rich, dense and full-bodied, with an exceptional tannic texture, dense and velvety, that extends throughout the palate. The lengthy finish concludes with an impression of firmness and delicate hints of spice.”

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The sale will be conducted by an auctioneer from Sotheby’s Wine, which has previously collaborated on Vendemmia d’Artista events in cities including New York, Hong Kong and Basel.

“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,” says Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of wine at Sotheby’s. “This is a time for fun, celebration and generosity.”

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