Another wine and art post, and this time I've matched a glass of Nino Barraco's Catarratto with Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, also known as the Woman in Gold.
I'm well aware than matching a glass of wine with a piece of art may seem a little strange to you, but it's a great excuse to write about my two favourite things in life.
I normally open a bottle of wine first, to see if I get any inspiration from the name of the winery or the wine, perhaps the wine label, sometimes the taste, and sometimes just how the wine makes me feel. But this time, something new for me, I just went with the colour.
I mean just look at it! This beautiful liquid gold is 100% Catarratto from Marsala in Sicily, and is the most widely planted grape on the island.
Many wines produced from this grape tend to be light and easy drinking, but ever so often you can stumble across a winery like Barraco. The colour and the concentration of flavour not only comes from well maintained vines, but the four days the skins are left in contact with the juice, give it that beautiful rich, golden colour - a piece of art in itself!
And that's how I came to the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt and his golden phase, and what a phase it was.
The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was the final work of Klimt's golden phase produced between 1903 and 1907, and was commissioned by her husband Ferdinand. This particular piece is made of oil, gold and silver leaf and it's truly mesmerising. I just love how Adele seems to merge with the background, and you can't quite make out where her dress ends, the seat behind her starts, or whereabouts the background is. I think it's fairly obvious to see that the artist was inspired by mosaic, and after his trip to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, he seems to have been motivated to produce pieces in this style. And in a sharp contrast to the highly decorated golden glitzy patterns, her face just appears, quite abruptly. It feels as though Klimt has really gone to town with the embellishment, really letting himself go, but when it comes to the face of Adele, he's gone all serious.
Years later after Adele's death, Ferdinand was forced to flee after the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938. He had to leave his large art collection behind, including five Klimt's, which were taken by the Nazis and hung in the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna.
But in 1998 the Austrian government passed a law stating that any property stolen by the Nazis could be returned to its rightful owners. Maria Altmann, Adele's niece then entered a legal battle to try and claim the Klimt's were rightfully hers.
For anyone whose seen the 2007 film Woman in Gold this may ring a few bells. After watching the BBC documentary Stealing Klimt, filmmaker Simon Curtis was inspired, and got going on his ideas for the Woman in Gold. If you haven't seen it, it really is a must - check out the trailer below! Dame Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann and Ryan Reynolds as her lawyer.
In 2006, the piece was sold for $135 million, which at the time was a record price for a painting. Today it hangs in the Neue Gallery in New York, and although the power of the internet does bring it alive, it's definitely on my list of things to go and see once normality resumes!
And if you are looking for an excuse to have a glass of something nice over the next few days why not order a bottle! Nino Barraco's Catarratto is available for Tutto Wines - who do nationwide delivery in the UK!
Heard in London