John William Waterhouse with a glass of Pure Magique
Updated: May 7
The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, with Anders Frederik Steen's Pure Magique Pas des Chimique.
We're going to the Ardéche for this wine, which has a nice link with art history in itself. It's here that some of the worlds oldest art has been discovered, and fairly recently too. In 1994 the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave was discovered to contain some of the best preserved cave paintings in the world. Incredibly, they are thought to date back to approximately 32,000-30,000 years BC. Anyway, the wine. Anders Frederik Steen is the winemaker, and has only been doing so since 2013, but by Jove, I think he's got it. At first he started buying grapes from growers he admired, but today he and his family have got into grape growing themselves, producing some of the greatest wines to come out of France. In my opinion.
Like most of the wines I drink, it's natural and organic, so you really are just getting the full expression of the grape and the wine Steen wants to produce. Slightly on the whacky side, but hey, thats how I like it.
For Pure Magique Pas des Chimique (Pure Magic, Not Chemicals) he uses 75% Syrah (red grape) and 25% Viognoir (white grape) with just a short maceration of around 16 days. And the result is just beautiful. In fact my mouth is watering just thinking about it, luckily I have another bottle stashed away.
The short time of the skins means a light, lively wine, with fine and linear tannins, notes of juicy red fruits, black olives in the hot sun, herbs, and spices. It's delicious served slightly chilled so perfect with London's weather at the moment! There's a slight fizz when its first opened, but it's absolutely delicious, and has been one of my favourite wines since I tried it a few years ago. The addition of Viognier is nothing new, it has been added into the wines made from Syrah in Northern Rhone for many generations.
I've paired with The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, hanging at Tate Britain. Well, they both have the word magic in them, it seemed an obvious choice to me, and hey! both men have 3 names!
In fact I could have chosen any of the followers of the Pre-Raphaelite art movement as it seems that was one of the major requirement to be part of their brotherhood - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais...
But it's also down to the fact that I absolutely love this piece, there's something so entrancing about it, don't you think? And I've mentioned previously that the wine is one of my favourites too.
The woman in the painting appears to be witch, engaged with some sort of sorcery. She has the complexion of a woman from the middle-east, her dress is decorated with Persian or Greek warriors, whilst her hair reminds us of an early Anglo-Saxon style.
In her right hand she holds a stick/wand which she uses to draw a protective circle around her and the fire pit, and in her left hand she holds a crescent shaped sickle, linking her with the moon and hecate, goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon and ghosts.
She appears to us in a barren landscape, there's a few rooks or ravens, plus a frog too - which are all symbols of evil and witchcraft which are now outside her circle. Whereas the flowers and the beautiful women herself are safely within.
So get yourselves down to Tate Britain (once it has reopened of course - or use their fantastic website!) and pour yourself a glass of Anders Frederik Steen's Pure Magique! It's availble from Low Intervention and Tutto Wines that are both delivering.
Cheers - Heard in London
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