Art and wine – The Slade Centre, Gillingham, Dorset.

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Andrew No Comments

Last friday evening found me at the Slade gallery in Gillingham at an art show put on by Rural Artists in Residence – “from sticks to stone”. This multi-artist show has recently transferred from a successful outing in London’s Mayfair and features a number of Shaftesbury based artists. I was asked along by Hope Elletson of Picture who handles much of their framing.

What about the wine? This was provided by upcoming Gillingham Restaurant The Shed and consisted of an eclectic selection of reds and whites from France. The two reds and a Sauvignon from Loire producer Domaine du Haut Bourg and the other white a Viognier, Des Acanthes, from the Languedoc. I tried the Viognier first and thought it was quite good with apricot fruit on the nose and a dry perfumed palate. Typical of the grape. The Sauvignon was less good. Perfectly adequate but lacking in varietal character and a bit one-dimensional.

Red number one was a Cabernet Franc 2010 vintage (I think) This had surprisingly soft fruit and was smooth and quite mouthfilling. A modern take on the usually stalky Cab Franc, a move that more and more Loire producers are making as they attempt to bend this usually rather uncompromising variety into a more compliant form. However in doing so it loses a lot of its charm, going from recognisable but difficult to drinkable but a bit anonymous. This was not Bourgeuil! But you can kind of understand why.

Red number two was a Gamay. This was a lot lighter and softer, showing this easy-drinking variety off well. A rather good wine to drink whilst viewing an art show, in that it didn’t distract from the pictures. Light juicy fruit with a soft finish.

I have never really been quite sure about Gamay. Apparently it has become quite modish, but I find its rather obvious fruit and highish acidity a rather less than appealing combination. In my mind it works best when it has a little weight, like it has in Morgon, where it can taste almost Pinot Noir-ish, although here it was perfectly decent.

Perhaps I am being a little unfair. An art-show isn’t the best place to taste wine with any rigour – the purpose of the alcohol is to help loosen the wallet of the punters after all – but it’s always a bonus if what you are given to drink at these events is a pleasant surprise. In this case a surprise was perhaps putting it too strongly, but they were certainly pleasant.

And the art? I’m no expert but there was some really good stuff on those walls. Go and take a look for yourself if you are in the area. The show runs till the 10th Nov.

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