La Signora Eugenia e il passero solitario

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cap. 7) The Leo bottle

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bottiglia01

An important part of our vine-growing project, besides of course the quality of the wine that we have made, is represented by the design of the bottle that will contain it, which we have called the Leo bottle.

As a good consumer of wine, I have always been surprised at the amount of time and energy required to dispose of the empty bottles. 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. It makes a gap, logistic, functional, economic and also of meaning in family life, a sort of stupidity of mass consumption that seems destined to repeat itself endlessly millions, even billions of times every year.
The Leo bottle, in line with Steiner’s biodynamic criteria that guide our business, has been designed to be not thrown away once the nectar that it contains and protects, is finished. Indeed, upon reaching this point it reveals its true nature as an object: it lends itself well to be re-used as a decanter, a candlestick or a flower vase …
bottiglia02To keep the bottle on the table we have designed a metal coaster. The concavity on the bottom of the bottle permits to couple with a kind of glacette, made in plastic with a refrigerating liquid inside: it has to be stored in fridge and when in use it will keep fresh the wine (remember: our whites must not be drunk too cold, and the red not too warm, as it could be in summer). Both will be ready soon.
The Leo bottle is the only object which I have designed directly, among the thousands of projects which I have dealt with in my professional life. Perhaps it is not accurate to say “designed” as it was rather the outcome of a compelling historical research around the archetype of wine containers. It started with a signalisation made by A. Vezzosi, in the volume of Leonardo’s Wine, Morgana Edition, Florence 1991, and turned into a fascinating research on wine containers that brings us to the dawn of material culture. Well, Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing is a tiny sketch of a puzzle, the original of which can be found in the Royal Library of Windsor Castle. In the same code there are also other sketches which, while referring to the same type of container, are however proportionally different. Later the sketch was also published by Luca Maroni (Milan is Leonardo’s vineyard, in The Taster of Wine and Food, No. 59, 2004).

bottiglia03
To me, however, this form does not seem to be an original creation of Leonardo, and was most likely referring to a formal type that we may find in the Middle Ages in depictions of bottles and jugs of similar shapes. Continuing with the research, we found documentation of other similar containers, including one very close to the one depicted in the Leonardo’s sketches: a fresco of the Master of the Passion of Postua in a church of Paruzzaro, a small village just south of Lake Orta.

(1) Maestro della Passione di Postua, Storie della Passione di Cristo, chiesa di San Marcello di Paruzzaro (NO); (2) preparazione di estratto di petali di rosa secondo Plinio in una miniatura del Rinascimento. Thetarum sanitatis, XVIII° secolo. Biblioteca Casanatense, Roma.

(1) Maestro della Passione di Postua, Storie della Passione di Cristo, chiesa di San Marcello di Paruzzaro (NO);
(2) preparazione di estratto di petali di rosa secondo Plinio in una miniatura del Rinascimento. Thetarum sanitatis, XVIII° secolo. Biblioteca Casanatense, Roma.

Renana, XVI° secolo

Renana, XVI° secolo

The theory of the varied cone and pear shapes continues in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in many wine containers of this type.

Bottiglie olandesi “a zoccolo di cavallo”

Bottiglie olandesi “a zoccolo di cavallo”

Up till this Caprice of Goya, in which the old man sitting on the left covetously holds a container which seems to me very close to the one we refer to.

Duendecitos

At this point of our research we thought it was necessary to go even further back in time. The form, indeed, reappears in much older glasses, of the Roman and pre-Roman times.

Bottiglia a ventre conico, Locarno (CH), I° sec. D.c. (Biaggio Simona)

We therefore believe that the sketches made by Leonardo refer to an archetype of vitreous container for wine, or more generally for liquids, and that it has been present in our civilization for at least 2000 years. The pear shape is clearly archetypal: its references are found in jugs, bottles and ointment containers of the Roman times, and probably derives from the shape of the glass drop at the moment of the first elementary blowing operation.

Lavorazione del vetro, da manoscritto boemo del XV° secolo

Lavorazione del vetro, da manoscritto boemo del XV° secolo

Raffronto tra la bottiglia Leo e un lacrimatoio del I° secolo D.C.

Raffronto tra la bottiglia Leo e un lacrimatoio del I° secolo D.C.

Bottiglie e contenitori piriformi di varie epoche

Bottiglie e contenitori piriformi di varie epoche