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“Art Park La Court” celebrates 20 years: among the first (visionary) projects that combined wine&art

Historic Piedmont winery Michele Chiarlo celebrates its anniversary with the release of a limited edition label of Nizza Docg Riserva La Court

It was among the first projects, creative and visionary, that in Italy combined wine and art, in a landscape setting now recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site: the “Art Park La Court”, conceived by Michele Chiarlo, celebrates its first 20 years (covered by WineNews in a video story). It is the largest open-air museum in the vineyard, a constantly updated “monument” where art, landscape and wine dialogue uninterruptedly, offering visitors one of the most unique land art experiences in the wine scene. The Park, located in La Court, the Chiarlo family’s “chateaux” in the hills of Castelnuovo Calcea, in Monferrato, the “kingdom” of Barbera d’Asti, celebrates this important milestone with the release of the 2020 vintage of Nizza Docg Riserva La Court, a famous label that has made the history of the Nizza appellation.
The “Art Park” is a true cultural center, based on the sharing of beauty: it rises in the heart of the Cru of the historic area of high terroir vocation from which the best Nizza and Nizza Riserva are born. “Open to the territory and the world, through its association O.R.M.E. it promotes and supports, every year, initiatives that invite people to take walking paths among the vineyards and enjoy the magic of the landscape and art, which live here in symbiosis”, says Stefano Chiarlo.
Its story began in the early 2000s, when Michele Chiarlo, founder of the winery, had a “vision” to transform the first vineyard into an ever-changing Art Park, an interactive path through the vineyards, where works of art could create a participation of the viewer, already immersed in a unique landscape. When the “Art Park La Court” opened in the summer of 2003, it was immediately clear that it was more than an exhibition among the vineyards, more than an open-air museum, and more than a work of land art in an evocative setting. It was born to transform the landscape, to reconvert the agricultural setting into a daydreaming fairy tale, a place where work and creativity would find the right balance. As in the vineyard described by the great writer Cesare Pavese, the “Art Park” aimed to open wide the “wings of a fabulous scene, of an event that neither memory nor imagination knows”.
Leading the “transformation” was Giancarlo Ferraris, a painter from Nizza Monferrato, with whom Michele Chiarlo had a long creative partnership, Ferraris being the artist of all his labels. “It was a titanic undertaking, perhaps the most fun of my life”, says Giancarlo Ferraris, “I called together a dozen artists, friends and artisans of the highest caliber to work together. There were potters, blacksmiths, sculptors, painters, mosaicists. The skills of each complemented those of the others and the projects became more interesting because they were shared: it was a kind of “Warholian factory” in Castelnuovo Calcea”. Thus was designed a path between different places, curated by the great set designer and illustrator Emanuele Luzzati, with iconic works organized along a fairy tale path dedicated to the elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Alongside Luzzati’s sculptures, the park is dotted with works by internationally renowned artists, including works by Ugo Nespolo, Giancarlo Ferraris and Chris Bangle. Imaginative elements that immerse the passerby in archaic and fantastic atmospheres, reasoning about the relationship and harmony between man and nature, creating meditative spaces and points of observation.
Precisely on the occasion of the Art Park anniversary, Nizza Docg Riserva La Court 2020, the winery's limited edition label, is released. In 2014, Nizza is placed at the top of the Barbera grape appellations, with the birth of the Nizza Docg: an important milestone that sees Michele Chiarlo among the creators of the appellation, serving as the first president of the Nizza Association in 2000. “For me, Nizza is the realization of a dream of a group of producers in the area who wanted to produce a wine of excellence with the best Barbera grapes”, he says, “I remember with nostalgia the long meetings we had with my friend Giuliano Noé in the 1990s to lay the foundations of a strict specification aimed at high quality. It is also thanks to this search for excellence, to believe in it and to a constructive and constant confrontation that today we have come to this result”.

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