William Kentridge Designs Ornellaia Anniversary Label for Vendemmia d’Artista

By Sotheby's

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Vendemmia d’Artista project, Ornellaia has invited South African artist William Kentridge to create special edition labels to adorn a limited number of large-size bottles of Ornellaia. The drawings on the labels are executed on the pages of old Italian cash books found in flea markets and second-hand shops in the Tuscan area.

Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, sculptures, animations and performances, which he uses to transmute sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. The artist created a site-specific masterpiece for the estate, customised a limited edition series of 111 large-format bottles, and designed a special edition label which will be included in every case of six 750ml bottles of Ornellaia.

In addition the same label will be reproduced on all magnums and on the lids of their wooden cases. The drawings are executed on pages from various old Italian cash books found in flea markets and second-hand shops.


The centrepiece of the project is the wine: Ornellaia 2015 Il Carisma. Now in its 30th vintage, the Carisma lives up to its name. The fruit of a particularly well-balanced harvest season, 2015 is without doubt one of the great Ornellaia vintages.

The characteristic 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, emphasized by classic balsamic and spicy hints. It is rich, dense and full-bodied on the palate, with an exceptional tannic texture. Dense, velvety and refined, this texture extends throughout the palate. The lengthy finish concludes with an impression of firmness and delicate hints of spice.

The special bottles will be among the nine lots to feature in a benefit auction presided over by Sotheby’s on 23 May at London’s V&A. The auction will also feature a unique Salmanazar 9-litre bottle Ornellaia 2015 by William Kentridge, together with an exclusive visit to the Ornellaia Estate for six guests including overnight stay, a visit to the vineyards and winery, a vertical tasting of six vintages of Ornellaia and dinner in a local Michelin Starred restaurant.


Speaking about the project, William Kentridge said: “The images on the Ornellaia labels are essentially about the work of making wine, and mainly of the vendemmia, the grape harvest.

“The secateurs come from a memory of the one occasion I took part in a Tuscan vendemmia, when with my family I spent six months in San Casciano outside Florence. This made me understand the human labour involved in making the wine; though what I remember most strongly is the pleasure of the lunch prepared in the vineyards by the local farmer’s wife. A depth of flavour made by the combination of work and terroir.”

He added: “The aspects of wine-making that combine both manual craft and mechanical processes suggested the transformation of people into machines and machines into workers. This is part of an ongoing series of drawings and other work about human labour. The drawings are done on pages from various old Italian cash books found in flea markets and second-hand shops in the Tuscan area.”


Every year since the release of Ornellaia 2006 in May 2009, a contemporary artist has created a site-specific work of art and a series of limited edition labels as part of the Vendemmia d’Artista program.

This year will mark Sotheby’s tenth collaboration with Ornellaia after previous events in New York (2010 & 2017), Hong Kong (2012), London (2013), Toronto (2014), Basel (2015) and Los Angeles (2016)

Speaking ahead of the benefit auction, Sotheby’s Senior Director Stephen Mould said: “I am honoured to be participating with Ornellaia in this great event in London. I admire how William Kentridge interprets Ornellaia 2015 “Il Carisma” through his allegorical language – the artworks he has created for the bottles and the estate transform the spirit of Ornellaia through visual art and make concrete his interpretation of Ornellaia 2015’s character. This vintage, born during an optimal harvest season, is set to be one of Ornellaia’s greatest.”

If you are interested in leaving bids please contact Stephen Mould, Head of Sotheby’s Wine Europe on or call + 44 (0207) 293 5046.

CLICK HERE to view the full catalogue.