The worlds of fine Champagne and fine art may have a reputation for being a little stuffy, but both have been letting loose lately. In recent years, whimsy and irreverence have been popping up all around the fancy fizz, from Pop Art labels to cork-cap murals to—in the case of Champagne house Maison Ruinart—enough art to fill a gallery. The winery recently worked with British artist David Shrigley to create an array of drawings, neon sculptures, new packaging and more as part of their aptly named “Unconventional Bubbles” collaboration.
Ruinart hosts an annual “Carte Blanche” project, inviting a contemporary artist to design new works inspired by the house’s wines, vineyards and overall je ne sais quoi. Past collaborators have included Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and Chinese performance artist and photographer Liu Bolin. “The choice was guided by David Shrigley’s talent and how he can connect and relate to the values of Ruinart,” Frédéric Dufour, president of Maison Ruinart, told Unfiltered via email. “His works make satirical comments on everyday situations and human interactions.”
When Ruinart invited the artist to visit the winery in Reims, he was happy to take them up on the offer. “I’ve worked with a lot of brands over the years and I realized it is quite important to work with a [product] you like. And it’s not difficult to like that Champagne!” Shrigley told Unfiltered. “I listened to people, especially to Frédéric Panaïotis, the cellar master. I took note of what I saw and what I heard," said Shrigley. He even carved some fresh designs into the winery's famed underground labyrinth of chalk caves.
After his reconnaissance, Shrigley put together 42 pieces for the collaboration, as well as a new typeface design for Ruinart. The works include drawings, huge ceramic jars, a doorway installation and neon sculptures. And yes, for the fans, there are bottles—signed boxes of 30 jeroboams of Ruinart’s blanc de blancs.
Shrigley is also an environmentalist whose work, including the Ruinart stuff, features wry commentary on the theme; one painting is accompanied by the sentiment "Worms Work Harder than Us," and he liked the maison's commitment to earth-friendliness. “Obviously, we have a big problem right now that the world has presented us with, but you just have … to think of ways to [take] better care of the planet. I think Ruinart has a very sustainable approach. Nurturing the soil is so important to them.”—C.D.
The world of fashion knows its way around shades of pink—fabric, that is. But one haute couture house decided it wouldn’t stop with scarves and sandals, and is releasing a pink wine, too, an in-vogue look these days. Last month, Italian designer Dolce & Gabbana announced that it's releasing a rosé called Rosa with Sicilian winery Donnafugata, with D&G themselves crafting the label. "For the label and the packaging, we wanted an immediately recognizable graphic, close to our creativity," cofounders Domenico Dolce, a Sicilian himself, and Stefano Gabbana, told us via an email response provided to Unfiltered. "We have designed its graphic in soft colors, close to those of our rosé."
Donnafugata has been collaborating with the fashion house since 2017, and last year, Donnafugata and D&G decided to stitch together the new bottle of wine to share Sicily’s culture, history and local flavor with the world. Rosa’s label was inspired by the island’s colorful donkey-drawn wooden carts. "We took inspiration from the iconic Sicilian cart, which represents Sicilian craftsmanship, culture and tradition all over the world," explained Dolce and Gabbana. “We are Italian. We love eating well and drinking good wine, like Rosa."
For Rosa, Donnafugata, which has vineyards all over the island, blended indigenous grapes Nerello Mascalese and the less-often-seen Nocera, sourced from Mount Etna and from the hills of Contessa Entellina, near Palermo. The 2019 arrives in the U.S. in August, so we haven't tasted the bottle yet, but Dolce and Gabbana are certain it will deliver the Sicilian flavor they love. “It is like savoring the colors and scents of our region and reliving its atmosphere.”—C.D.
Rosé knowers are also looking forward to #NationalRoséDay tomorrow, June 13, and plenty of wineries are eager to put pink bottles on their tables. Two top names in the south of France—and in this space recently—are preparing celebrations to creatively toast while social-distancing restrictions are still in place.
Provence Rosé Group, founded by billionaire and coworking space entrepreneur Mark Dixon, encompasses four rosé-focused estates in the south of France, including flagship property Château de Berne, and they'll be hosting a virtual fête of wine and song. "While it’s difficult during these times to enjoy the day together in person, we thought it would be inspiring to hold this virtual event in honor of the rosé lifestyle and the special day on June 13,” PRG CEO for North America Bob Gaudreau, said in a press release.
At 4 p.m. ET, a Zoom party hosted by Emmy-winning actor Vincent De Paul will feature sommelier Jon McDaniel, Château de Berne winemaker (and friend of Post Malone) Alexis Cornu and others taking the mic, with a musical interlude from Grammy winner Paulina Aguirre.
Rosé rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his vintner-partner son Jesse Bongiovi are also getting into the spirit, launching the weekly #HamptonWaterPicnic (Hampton Water is the name of the wine) with New York's Versa restaurant. As rooftop revelry is not yet permitted at Manhattan restaurants, the picnic is being served in to-go baskets including wine, lobster rolls, charcuterie and cheese, fruit, antipasti—and sanitizer and facemasks. Bongiovi and a friend from Versa will also be hopping on Instagram Live tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET for a virtual happy hour. To support the fight for racial justice and equality, the picnic partners are donating a portion of proceeds to Black Lives Matter and the National Bail Fund Network.—G.S.
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