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September 13 2013

Numanthia, the soul of the earth

Zoé Ouvrier and Numanthia

Béatrice Delamotte

To magnify the exceptional ground of Numanthia, Spain, the French artist Zoe Ouvrier has designed carved boxes that express the strength and tenacity of the vine.

For this collaboration, 134 boxes have been created in very limited edition, genuine individual works of art that make up a set once put together.

Between Salamanca and Valladolid, in the heart of the province of Zamora, the Douro Valley is crushed under the scorching sun. While fighting bulls frolick in the tall grass bleached by heat, the vines of Numanthia stretch out their branches like arms thrown skyward.

For nearly 140 years, these vines have made one of the best wines in the world, in a barren land and despite the extreme weather: very hot during the day and sometimes very cold at night. These are the contrasting elemengts that attracted Zoé Ouvrier. The young woman spent many hours here to discover the charm of the area, involving herself in the difficulties experienced by the winemaking team in the area, led by Manuel Louzada. Hours passed trying to understand the work done by each one, the role of the seasons, and the exceptional expertise of the winemakers. Throughout the hours past listening, watching and soaking up the atmosphere of the area and plots of the oldest vines – some have been planted before the phylloxera in the 1870s – Zoé Ouvrier envisioned an exquisite box for a rare wine. For this, the young woman used her favorite material, plywood. Far from treating it as a last resort in place of more noble woods, she considers it part of an environmental process and was successful in combining strength and serenity.
Engraved, carved, painted, inked, she transcribed the strength of the vine roots – which are successful in drawing all the things they need from the arid land – into the wood.
The strength of the vines that produce the grapes – against all the odds – which create a wine that is dense and structured, like them. Above all, Zoé Ouvrier succeeded – by its simple and elegant graphics – in translating the ancient histories dating back to the deepest roots, as roots. Each node of the stocks illustrates the struggle for the life of the vine in the difficult weather conditions.
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