What could be more delicate, natural and joyful than the encounter between the birds that appear on the labels of Castellare di Castellina wines and the creativity of the young students of the Brera Art School in Milan? From this encounter was born the limited edition I Sodi di S. Niccolò 2019 – Brera unveiled on 4 October in Milan, at the headquarters of the high school, by Paolo Panerai, founder of Castellare di Castellina, the historic Chianti Classico winery, by the oenologist Alessandro Cellai and the Principal of the Institute Emilia Ametrano. On display, a selection of 550 bottles of different sizes (0.75 L, 1.5 L, 6L and 9 L), personalized by over 500 students with a carousel of hand-painted flowers, leaves, animals and natural elements, in perfect harmony with the iconic bird that appears on the label, depicted by the artist and ornithologist John Gould, who lived in the Victorian era. 550 one-of-a kind bottles, each different from the other, containing the 2019 vintage of I Sodi di S. Niccolò, the Historical Supertuscan of Castellare di Castellina based on Sangiovese and Balck Malvasia, both native vines of the Chianti Classico area.
Of these unique masterpieces, the jury chose 4 bottles (one for each format) for the creativity of the decoration and the richness of details, in addition to the 5 most beautiful designs that embellish the cases of the 0.75 L: the authors of these work of arts were awarded by Paolo Panerai during the presentation.
The 9-litre format, decorated with a splendid phoenix, will be auctioned at Christie’s London on 30 November 2023 and the proceeds will be donated entirely to the non-profit Dynamo Camp association which offers recreational therapy programs to children and adolescents suffering from illnesses severe or chronic. Furthermore, part of the proceeds from the sale of the other formats will also go to charity to the same association.
The students of the Brera Art School awarded are:
Aurora Sartori (9 liter bottle), Manuela Fasoli (3 liter bottle), Martina Zottola (1.5 liter bottle), Leda Bossi (0.75 liter bottle), Giorgia Prado Caballero (case design), Gabriele Banfi (case design), Alice Tosi (case design), Alessandra Miravalle (case design), Maya Montini (case design).
550 hand-painted bottles for a project that combines art, young talents empowerment and solidarity
“This project,” explains Paolo Panerai, “was born from an unplanned, and therefore even more magical, encounter that took place in 2022, during the week of La Vendemmia in Via MonteNapoleone, when the boutiques of the Milanese fashion district each host a cellar. On that occasion, the director of the boutique in partnership with Castellare di Castellina had asked some young students from the Brera High School to personalize the bottles of our wines live, taking inspiration from the labels that reproduce every year a little bird in danger of extinction, to underline that in the vineyards of Castellare only organic products are used. It was then that the principal of the Brera High School, Mrs Emilia Ametrano, in the most spontaneous way, suggested having the students decorate a limited edition of I Sodi di S. Niccolò. The idea immediately thrilled everyone, because it became an opportunity to allocate the proceeds to a charity initiative. Through the art of these young talents, we want to send a message of solidarity”.
“The I Sodi di S. Niccolò – Brera project was conceived for our students to create relationships between a leading wine company and art”, underlines the Principal of The Brera Art High School, Emilia Ametrano. “The study and selection of the birds first, the attention to detail afterwards, through the use of very small brushes and colors of advanced conception, helped our students, guided by their teachers of the artistic disciplines, to tackle a difficult technique: glass painting. The latter, born in Europe towards the end of the 14th century, then became one of the favorite techniques of illustrious artists, such as Vassilij Kandinsky and Franz Marc, who excelled in the development of an art that brought together great abstraction and realism. Our students enthusiastically welcomed the idea to decorate the bottles of Castellare di Castellina wine by proposing unique and extremely refined graphic solutions”.
“I would like to thanks Mr. Paolo Panerai, friend and supporter of Dynamo Camp, who has chosen us as beneficiaries of this initiative, born during a historic event in favor of our programs for children with serious or chronic pathologies and their families” says Serena Porcari, CEO of Fondazione Dynamo Camp ETS. “It was exciting to learn about the work of the students of the Art School and we are grateful to all the actors involved in this project.”
The Limited Edition of the Wine I Sodi Di S. Niccolò 2019
I Sodi di S. Niccolò is the flagship wine of Castellare di Castellina. Born in 1977, it was the 4th Supetuscan (now Historical Supertuscan) in history, as the great wines of the Chianti Classico were then baptized by the magazine Decanter which, in order to have the highest quality, left the DOC and became table wines, thus so as not to be forced by the then production regulations to also use white grapes. The name was suggested by the Italian wine critic, philosopher and writer Luigi Veronelli.
“One day,” says Paolo Panerai, “with Luigi, known as Gigi, we were going down from the cellar of Castellare di Castellina towards the most beautiful vineyard on the property. What the old sharecroppers had called Vigna de’sodi, due to the particularly hard soil rich in stones: the best for making wine. On the right, there is the Church of S. Niccolò from 1300, surrounded by another vineyard with the same type of soil that the sharecroppers had named after the saint. He stopped and said to me: ‘Paolo, here’s the name for that extraordinary wine you made me taste: call it I Sodi di S. Niccolò, but with an ‘I’ in front, please. Because that, and only that, will be the wine that will bear this name.”
Luigi Veronelli had tasted the first vintage, that of 1977. Since then the success of this Grand Cru has grown over the years. I Sodi di S. Niccolò was the first Italian wine included in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list of 1988 (with 1985 vintage) and 1989 (with 1986 vintage). Furthermore, twice (with the 2013 and 2016 vintages), it was the 1st Italian red wine by adding the scores of the 5 Italian guides and the 4 most authoritative international wine critics. I Sodi di S. Niccolò is one of the few Italian wines traded by La Place de Bordeaux, the most important distribution network of fine wines.
“The 2019 vintage – explains Alessandro Cellai, Castellare di Castellina winemaker – reveals great olfactory intensity and a dense and elegant texture of sweet and silky tannins. The acid shoulder of Sangiovese gives great freshness and makes the sip particularly pleasant and crunchy, with a long and persistent finish. Even though the 2019 vintage, from a climatic point of view, was one of the most complex, thanks to the very favorable geographical location of the Sodi and San Niccolò vineyards, we achieved exceptional quality”.