Tomás Saraceno Lights Up Ornellaia; Rosie Assoulin Designs Natural Wine

The Argentinian artist created a “thermochromatic” color-changing label, and the NYC designer teamed with Eleven Madison Park’s top somm
Tomás Saraceno Lights Up Ornellaia; Rosie Assoulin Designs Natural Wine
Artist Tomás Saraceno introduces his big boy, the 9-liter salmanazar of Ornellaia. The label depicts a solar eclipse. (Stefano Casati)
Aug 27, 2020

It’s no secret that art and wine make the perfect pairing, and this week brings news of not one, but two, artists putting their visions on vino.

Since the 2006 vintage, super Tuscan icon Ornellaia has chosen a contemporary artist each year to create limited-edition labels that reflect the characteristics of each vintage, in a series it calls Vendemmia d’Artista. For the 2017 vintage, 111 large-format bottles are sporting the unique label made by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno, known for his also-large-format installations of bubbles, prisms and other forms from nature; 11 will be sold via a Sotheby’s online auction to benefit the Guggenheim Museum's Mind's Eye Program, which helps individuals who are blind or have low vision experience art through all their senses.

Axel Heinz and Ornellaia bottles
Ornellaia estate director Axel Heinz poses with the smaller, though still very large, 6-liter imperials. (Stefano Casati)

The 2017 vintage was marked by extreme heat and one of the driest seasons ever in Tuscany. The artist's label, coined “Solare,” is thermochromic and changes color with the heat of one's hand, inviting reflection about the impact of humans and the environment.

Estate director Axel Heinz broke it down for us. "This unusual vintage made us reflect on the consequences of climate change, urging us to become more aware of its existence in viticulture and to take concrete actions against this phenomenon which involves all humanity," Heinz told Unfiltered via email. "Tomás Saraceno has remarkably interpreted these thoughts by looking to the connection between the sun and the earth."

The auction will run from Sept. 1 to 9, where one salmanazar (9 liters) and 10 imperials (6 liters each) will be up for grabs. Last year, Iranian mixed-media artist and photographer Shirin Neshat's ”La Tensione” raised $312,000 for the auction's debut partnership with Mind's Eye, and this year's sustainability theme, said Heinz, will resonate in the COVID-19 era.

"[Saraceno's] engagement with climate and ethical human behaviors gives an important contribution to reflect on urgent matters that impact our society today," Heinz said. "I do believe that the pandemic has made us more aware about leading healthier lives and making meaningful decisions for ourselves and the community."—S.Z.


Bold Minds of Design, Wine and Dining Dream Up New Natural Wine, Vivanterre

What happens when a fashion designer, fancy wine director and natural winemakers team up? You get a very hip wine, sure, but the big-name tastemakers here intend to deliver much more than simply a trendy bottle. New York fashion maven Rosie Assoulin has switched up eveningwear for wine (as have we all!) for her newest design, Vivanterre, a natural wine brand made in collaboration with her husband, Max; their friend Cedric Nicaise, wine director at Manhattan’s prestigious Eleven Madison Park; and Patrick Bouju and Justine Loiseau of Domaine la Bohème in Auvergne, France.

Vivanterre bottles
The 2019 Vivanterre wines, lookin’ sharp (Nicole Cohen / Courtesy of Vivanterre)

Bouju is a natural winemaker working with his partner in life and wine, Loiseau, in Auvergne, in central France. Assoulin and her husband met Bouju while visiting Paris and liked his philosophy. Nicaise acts as the bridge of wine knowledge between his novice friends and the winemakers. “I help to interpret Rosie and Max’s ideas to Patrick,” Nicaise explained to Unfiltered.

Embodying its name, Vivanterre, which means “living earth,” was made with organically grown and biodynamically farmed grapes, vinified with minimal intervention, and untouched by any fining, filtering or sulfites. The label matches the sentiment with a minimalist design.

Cedric Nicaise in a vineyard
Eleven Madison Park wine director Cedric Nicaise in the wild. (Courtesy of Vivanterre)

To start, the partners are launching two wines, one red, one orange: Gamay MVB and Contact SGU. Gamay MVB is made with Gamay grapes sourced from Moulin-à-Vent in Beaujolais, coming from 65-year-old vines planted on pink granite. The wine is whole cluster–fermented, and aged in a combination of clay amphorae and oak barrels.

Contact SGU is a most uncommon blend of Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer from Alsace—and Ugni Blanc sourced from the Languedoc. The Gewürztraminer and Ugni Blanc see skin maceration for up to three weeks, while the Sylvaner is directly pressed. The wine is aged in a combination of foudres, clay amphorae and fiberglass tanks. The wine will be available for shipping nationwide through Parcelle Wine, as well as at NYC hot spots like Pasquale Jones, Charlie Bird, the Four Horsemen and Red Hook Tavern.—A.Z.


Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

Unfiltered Art Artists Design Natural Wine Tuscany

You Might Also Like

Sex and Garlic: New Weapons Against the Most Notorious Vineyard Diseases?

Sex and Garlic: New Weapons Against the Most Notorious Vineyard Diseases?

A Champagne vine expert and a Bordeaux lab have developed potential keys to winning …

Sep 25, 2020
Kendall-Jackson and United Way Launch Fund for Grocery Workers

Kendall-Jackson and United Way Launch Fund for Grocery Workers

Jackson Family Wines chairman and proprietor Barbara Banke gave us details on the brand-new …

Sep 24, 2020
Black Eyed Peas, NFL Hall of Famers and More Boost Wine Charity Efforts

Black Eyed Peas, NFL Hall of Famers and More Boost Wine Charity Efforts

Barefoot Wines, Jackson Family Wines and others are making pushes to support kids' …

Sep 23, 2020
Sarah Jessica Parker, Graham Norton Take Up Home Winemaking on Zoom

Sarah Jessica Parker, Graham Norton Take Up Home Winemaking on Zoom

SJP told us how she blended her signature Sauvignon Blanc via a virtual session with her …

Sep 21, 2020
Taco Bell's 'Jalapeño Noir' Sells Out on Day Uno

Taco Bell's 'Jalapeño Noir' Sells Out on Day Uno

Why does the fast-food chain have a house wine? "Democratizing wine and making it more …

Sep 17, 2020
World of Wine, Secrets of Bubbles: Massive (and Modest) Museums Open in Porto and France

World of Wine, Secrets of Bubbles: Massive (and Modest) Museums Open in Porto and France

Portugal's "WOW" includes, count 'em, six museums devoted to wine, chocolate and cork, but …

Sep 16, 2020