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Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2019 auction raises more than $300,000

Ornellaia's latest Vendemmia d’Artista auction has raised more than $300,000 (£267,000) and proceeds will go to the Guggenheim Museum’s Mind’s Eye project, which helps blind and low-vision people experience art using all the senses.

To showcase the project’s capacity to make art more accessible, the iconic Tuscan winery hosted a festive gathering at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City to announce the results of the Vendemmia d’Artista 2019 ‘Il Vigore’ auction.

Coordinated by Sotheby’s, the online auction raised £267,000 for the museums Mind’s Eye programme, which helps blind and low-vision people experience art using all the senses.

Swedish artists Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg were commissioned to create unique artworks for the Vendemmia d’Artista 2019, inspired by Ornellaia estate director Axel Heinz’s one-word description of the vintage – Vigore (Vigor). Using bottles of Ornellaia as their canvas, Djurberg and Berg created bold pieces that combined soil, floral elements, and likenesses of creatures pushing through the earth to convey the force of nature and the relationship between humans and the natural world. Examples of these rare bottles were on display during the Guggenheim event, and guests sipped Ornellaia 2019 while viewing them. In addition to the bespoke bottles, one bottle in each Ornellaia case of six 750cl bottles feature a label designed by the artists.

For the online auction, Djurberg and Berg created limited edition works of 111 large-format bottles of Ornellaia – 100 Jeroboams (3 litres), 10 Imperials (6 litres), and the only nine-litre Salmanazar of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2019. The works are signed and numbered by the artists.

Taking the stage together at the Guggenheim to announce the auction results, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja (CEO, Ornellaia) and Richard Armstrong (Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum) shared that the partnership will continue for three more years and expand. ‘We are very enthusiastic about continuing to support the development of this special project that we believe in. Since the beginning, we wanted Mind’s Eye to be able to develop and become available to a vast audience from different places around the world. This global vision has now developed even more, ensuring that the programme has become a feature of all the Guggenheim museums in New York, Venice, and Bilbao,’ said Geddes de Filicaja.

The Mind’s Eye programme aims to spur creativity and enduring emotional connections to art by engaging all the senses. ‘With Ornellaia’s continued support, we will expand the Mind’s Eye programmes to a global audience with a focus on developing the verbal descriptions in all our museums,’ said Armstrong.

Earlier in the evening, Heinz shared how the Mind’s Eye approach can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of wine. ‘Wine has a deeply specific language that can be a detractor. We all have senses; that’s universal and doesn’t require a specific language to translate your impression of wine efficiently,’ said Heinz. To make his point, he described the ‘balsamic notes and black fruit aromas’ of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2019 and its ‘aromas of black pepper, sage, and aromatic herbs’.

Heinz mused, ‘The saline savouriness of the wine may reflect the proximity of the Ornellaia estate to the sea, which is just five kilometres away and is visible from almost all [of] the vineyards. Is it the sea or the growing conditions of this specific terroir that lend the wine this character? We will never know. In the mouth, the wine is both full-bodied and vibrant. It balances juiciness and smoothness with freshness in the finish.’ He described the character of Il Vigore as ‘energy, vitality, elegance, and balance’.

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