PICASSO WINE TRAIL
Born in Málaga, Spain in 1881, Pablo Picasso grew up in Barcelona where he studied art, moved to Paris (along with many of the century’s best writers and artists) and eventually settled in the South of France.
Picasso’s intriguing art life also makes for a fascinating wine trail which is the theme of the May wine box. We start in his place of birth, the south of Spain in Malaga, Andalucía, a hot a dry region mainly known for sweet fortified wines made from the Pedro Ximénez grape, though I have sought out a more modern dry and crisp wine from one of the leading producers of the region, called PiXel. A vino blanco that I could imagine Pablo’s parents enjoying on a hot summer’s day at the Costa del Sol.
Much of his formative years were spent in Barcelona where he attended the renowned school of arts ‘La Llotja.’ This is where he created the first version of his own artistic style – the Blue Period – in which his work radiated with Barcelona’s avant-garde spirit.
Barcelona had a profound effect on the young artist. The progressive Catalan capital was in a period of huge growth as it raced towards the 20th century.
Picasso frequented the now famous, El Quatre Gats café virtually every night, to eat and drink and meet other artists and avant-garde thinkers. Always sketching portraits and pictures, at the end of the evening he’d auction off his sketches which usually sold for around one Peseta – equivalent to a bottle of house wine.
We have two Catalan wines to reflect this important period and wine region. The beautifully saline and vibrant white: Vora La Mar (which in itself is inspired by the Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer whom Picasso befriended in Barcelona) which is made from Xarel-lo grapes grown just 2km from the Mediterranean sea. The third wine is a powerful, rich and spicy Catalan red, the Loxarel OPS Garnacha a perfect accompaniment to the Catalan cuisine that Picasso is said to have sought out when homesick in Paris.
Pablo’s twilight years were still immensely prolific, he continued to produce art every day while living in the South of France dedicating his time to his new love: ceramics. Christie’s estimates he produced over 3,500 ceramic works of art in his last decade; many of them are on display at the magnificent Picasso Museum in Antibes. The wine of choice to reflect the south of France is of course a lively, dry, pale pink rosé with soft red fruit nuances. This classic Provence rosé comes from the Coteaux Varois en Provence AOC from a small family producer: Chateau d’Ollieres situated just outside of Aix-en-Provence, 30km from where Picasso was buried at the Vauvenargues Castle in 1973.