The Museo del Vino (Wine Museum) in Barolo Castle, Piedmont has been donated what is thought to be the world’s largest and most valuable collection of wine labels.
Collector Cesare Baroni Urbani has given 282,000 wine labels – valued at more than €300,000 – to the museum. The collection has never been on public display and the museum is devoting a section of the medieval castle to exhibit the labels.
Baroni Urbani took 20 years to assemble the labels, which hail from 106 countries. He told Italian newspaper ‘La Stampa’: “Every single label is different... They come directly from wineries’ stocks, or label printers’ overruns, as well as from auctions and swaps.”
One of the most prized items in the collection is from Labaume Ainé & Fils – one of the oldest vineyards in Burgundy. The rare label dates to before 1798, when lithography printing was introduced, so allowing for wine labels to be printing in mass quantities.
Also in the collection is a complete series of Château Mouton Rothschild labels from 1945 to today. To celebrate the end of World War II, Baron Philippe de Rothschild started the scheme to have labels designed annually by contemporary artists including Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol.
The practice of celebrity wine-label design has grown since the Baron initiated it in 1924, when he asked French graphic designer Jean Carlu to create a label. Italian Nobel laureate Dario Fo has designed the 30th edition annual artistic wine label for Tuscan wine producer Fattoria Nittardi. His label will appear on the producer’s Chianti Classico Casanuova di Nittardi vintage.