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Artist Rodney Graham creates artwork for Ornellaia 2011 vintage

Ornellaia has commissioned Canadian-born artist Rodney Graham to create poems and label designs to mark its 2011 vintage, as auction house Sotheby's reports rising interest in the Super Tuscan winery.

Graham’s poems and bespoke label designs were revealed at an Ornellaia event hosted by Sotheby’s in Milan this week. The announcement is Ornellaia’s sixth Vendemmia d’Artista, that has seen it commission a range of artists to create bottle designs around a particular vintage.

Graham, whose poems on Ornellaia bottles include ‘The Impossible Pantoum of Acknowledgement’ and ‘Lamentations of a Humourist’, has hand-signed 100 three-litre double magnums, 10 six-litre imperials and one nin-litre salmanazar – all of which will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in Toronto in June. Proceeds will go to charity.

Michel Rolland, who works as a consultant at Ornellaia and visits the estate around four times per year on average, praised the quality of the 2011 vintage.

‘Everyone remembers the fantastic 2001 vintage. Ten years after, 2011 is as amazing as 2001 was, but we are working better and 2011 seems to me more sophisticated.’

Ornellaia winemaker Axel Heinz agreed that 2011 was a year that allowed the grapes to achieve ‘perfect ripeness’ on the vine. But, he added that he prefers not to focus too much on comparisons.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event in Milan, Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s wine division in Europe, told decanter.com that the auction house is seeing more Ornellaia coming to market thanks to greater contact with sellers in continental Europe.

‘There are more sellers moving onto the market with mature vintages of Ornellaia,’ he said.

Collectors’ interest in so-called Super Tuscan wines, which also includes Sassicaia and Ornellaia’s second wine, Masseto, has grown strongly in the past few years, principally as the wine investment market diversifies from its Bordeaux heartland.

Written by Chris Mercer

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