Over two years Smith worked in collaboration with vintner Josephus Mayr of the Family Estate Mayr-Unterganzner in Cardano, Bolzano, South Tyrol, to create a hand crafted wine. The wine, Terratorium, was specifically developed to elicit as site-specific a taste as possible while tracing the international journeys necessary to this development of the ‘local’.
Vinum de terratorium veritas: A search for the truth through wine.
Wine making extracts the taste of its terroir – it is a process of distilling the essence of a place that could be argued to be more authentic than any other form of origination – the vine grows from the earth of its origin in which its roots are literally dug deep. Through Terratorium the artist offers a challenge to national identity by revealing the international mobilities and relations implicit to the local.
Terratorium is made using lagrein grapes, a 700 year old varietal, grown by the Mayr family vineyard that dates to 1629, the grapes were picked, de-stemmed and fermented by hand before maturing in specially crafted barrels made from a local oak tree. No external yeasts have been added, the wine maturing through spontaneous and natural fermentation encouraged by being stirred gently by hand using a paddle made of the same local oak before barrelling, to extract a truly local taste.
Through the tastings and events surrounding the making of this work, the artist brought together sommelier, geologists, meteorologists and foresters to trace the extraordinary interconnectedness with sites across the world of the soil and weather that determine the local growing conditions, tracing the journey of the vine itself from Georgia, into Egypt, Tunisia and up through Greece and Sicily to reach South Tyrol.
The wine launched at The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – Museion, Bolzano, Italy, in October 2018 and at Delfina Foundation, London, June 2019 as part of the Politics of Food programme. It has been produced as a limited edition artwork of 250 bottles.
Launched through a public tasting, the wine takes the sampler outbound once more on further journeys, tracing the taste of the wine through flavours which are anything but itself.
Terratorium was commissioned by B-A-U, Sud-Tyrol, Italy.
Photographs courtesy of Daniel Mazza.