Italian designer Alberto Alessi has made his debut in the wine world with a trio of wines housed in conical glass bottles inspired by a Leonardo da Vinci sketch.
Christened “Leo”, the bottle, which looks like a laboratory flask, is the first object Alessi has directly put his name to, having overseen the production of hundreds of kitchen accessories by the likes of Philippe Starck and Michael Graves.
The bottom of the flasks are etched with a pattern inspired by the knots of da Vinci, which appear in a number of the artist’s paintings, including the Mona Lisa and the Lady with an Ermine. Each of the bottles are individually numbered and include the year of production.
Alessi is hoping consumers will keep the bottles after drinking the wine inside and reuse them as vases, decanters and candlesticks.
“As a wine consumer, I’ve always been surprised at the amount of time and energy required to dispose of the empty bottles,” he said.
“The empty bottle, an object not without dignity, and indeed often having a highly aesthetic quality but inexorably destined to a sometimes laborious disposal, is an ethical issue for people like me who work in the world of objects,” he added.
Produced close to Lake Orta in the village of Pratolungo in northern Italy, Alessi’s range includes a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a sweet wine made from overripe grapes.
“For many years I indulged in the fantasy of producing good wine on Lake Orta,” he said.
Called “La Signora Eugenia e il passero solitario” (Madam Eugenia and the lonely sparrow), the range don’t come cheap – the 2009 Chardonnay, which spends two years in barrel, costs €160, the 2009 Pinot €110 and the 2008 sweet wine will set you back €220.
The labels, designed by Spaniard Martì Guixe, feature a lady looking towards a lake with a sparrow (il passero solitario) on her shoulder.
In order to highlight the extent that wine is at the mercy of Mother Nature, each year the label illustration changes, with Signora Eugenia dressed appropriately for the weather, with an umbrella if it rained a lot and sunglasses in hot vintages.
The project began in the early Noughties when Alessi and his wife Laura bought a house (Casa Eugenia) surrounded by vines in Pratolungo and started making wine with the help of biodynamic consultant Jacques Mell.
Kitchenware company Alessi was founded in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi.