La Stoppa, Ageno 2012, paired with The Fighting Temeraire by Turner
One of my favourite wines, paired with the nations favourite painting. The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838 by the English artist JMW Turner, which in 2005 was voted the nation's favourite painting (BBC Radio Four's Today programme).
Firstly why is this wine my favourite. When I take a sip it's reminiscent of a hot summers day coming to a close, a long lunch that has turned into a lazy afternoon, the sun is going down and it's coming to the end of an amazing holiday. It's those moments, when it's fine to sit in silence, with a smile on your face, remembering just how great the past few days have been, how beautiful the world is, and the time has stopped for just a few seconds.
And in terms of La Stoppa, it certainly is a heart warming wine, there's something about it which takes me straight out of London, and into Tuscany, in amongst the vineyards. Or perhaps Piacenza, where this wine is from. Located in the Emilia-Romagna region, just North of Tuscany.
In the glass it's super orange and intense, that's just so reminiscent of the sunset (or perhaps a sunrise?) which Turner has painted so vividly. The wine has seen some thirty days maceration to get such an intensity, which is needed on the fairly neutral grape Malvasia, but on the palate it's calm just like the sobre flowing River Thames, but full of depth and complexity just like the colours and light Turner depicts so well. Everything is just so balanced it comes across so perfectly well put together. There's notes of orange blossom, honey, overripe squishy peaches, spices, and it's all this, which transports me back to summers spent abroad, and the nostalgia of times gone by which brought me to Turner.
There's so many reasons why this I hold this painting so close to my heart, and there's so much to see if you just take a closer look.
On the left hand side of the painting we have the Temeraire, it's white ghostly presence almost rises up out of the sea looking pretty impressive. It's lost the ability to sail on it's own, and has to rely on the squat steam boat to pull it along. The Temeraire was the celebrated ninety-eight gun battle ship that fought valiantly in Lord Nelson's fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. But here, it's had it's heyday, and is being shown making it's last voyage to be decommissioned in Rotherhithe South East London, to be broken up. It certainly is a very nostalgic view of such an impressive ship. It can no longer travel by the power of her sails, and instead has to rely on the steamboat to tug her along. In contrast, the tug boat is small, dark and kind of ugly in comparison to the impressive Temeraire behind it. And thus this can be read as a representation of an end of an era and a time where wind and wood were our main power force. We are making was for a new one, the era of steam and steel as the Industrial Revolution approaches. To further highlight this period of transition, Turner has included that impressive sun setting over London – you can just about make out the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben). This alongside the inability of the Temeraire to make this journey by herself evokes a loss and a sadness, and Turner represents the nostalgia he may be feeling towards this change. Similar to how we feel once we return back home after our holiday has ended, a bit of the holidays blues.
It's an incredibly symbolic painting, and this event would have also had a symbolic meaning to the artist. He had just turned 18 years old when Britain entered the Napoleonic Wars, and he was strongly patriotic, and this event would have been widely covered in the media at the time. But that being said, Turner wasn't completely against the Industrial Revolution, and very much embraced the transition. If you look towards the top left corner you can make out a glimmering sliver of the moon as it casts its silvery beam across the river, symbolising the new, perhaps exciting? Industrial Era.
Another likening to the wine can drawn from the artists use of “impasto”, you'll have to visit the National Gallery for this one, but you'll notice the sunset on the left, and how the paint has been applied thickly to create texture. Just like the winemaker has used to technique of skin maceration in this wine, also added interest, texture and more complexity to the finished product.
This wine is from Les Caves de Pyrene, and you'll see it in a number of natural wine bars across London! As for the painting, you'll find it hanging in room 34, and perhaps I'll see you there ;)
Heard in London