One of the highlights of 2016 was drinking beautiful Super Tuscan Siepi in a Petersham Nursery Pop Up at the London Frieze Art Fair. What better way to spend a Tuesday lunchtime? None. But getting to the dining table was an hilarious journey filled with many questions. And not many answers. Enjoy this picture-heavy diatribe.
Siepi vintages 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2013 from Tuscany’s Mazzei winery were the prize to be tasted… once you had made your way through the modern art crowd.
People in the art world are from another planet.
Seriously, if they want to populate Asgardia, this new outer space nation that the Russian billionaire Igor Ashurbeyli is building, then send the professional art world up there.
They are space cadets, every last man jack of them.
I understand that different industries breed and attract different types of people. We in the wine world probably look like something that came off the ark to the art world. But Jeez!
There have been two occasions in my life where my jaw physically dropped from seeing someone’s appearance. And I mean actually dropped.
The first was Jubilee Day 1977 on the South Bank on a school day trip when a group of punk rockers walked past, safety pins all through their faces, spitting. Coming from an all-boys Methodist boarding school this came as a wee bit of a shock.
The second, was arriving at the Frieze art fair on industry day a number of weeks ago.
We got there as the fair opened, which is when the professional art world goes to snap up the latest pieces.
I kid you not, at one stage a large person (sex indetermined) started gliding around one gallery looking like a cross between a large Quality Street chocolate and a Dalek.
I stopped it and asked for a photo as proof.
No-one was batting an eyelid.
Everyone but everyone looked completely off their trolley. Gravity-defying spectacles in every material and colour imaginable, clothes and shoes so bespoke it was mannered beyond belief… and don’t get me started on the hair and the headwear.
I found myself following people so I could hear what they were saying.
There was one very unfashionable chap who looked like Alan Ginsberg in a lot of pain, with a Gabadene mac buttoned up (it was a very warm day), muttering “I need my election slavery” as two agency types, who seemed to be clearly feting him, piroueted around him nodding approvingly.
Some of the artworks were very good and some of the artworks were not very good.
A young chap who had all of the insides of his fingers tattooed stood in front of a pile of blankets, leaning against a studio wall and said “I have so many questions.”
Without proferring an answer I moved off – my ‘untrendy’ business suit feeling like chain mail around my shoulders.
I might as well have been wearing one of those hats you see at cricket matches with clappy hands and tubes that carry beer from the top of your head into your mouth.
It was just as well that our host for the day was Mazzei, the Tuscan wine producer responsible for the splendid Sangiovese-Merlot cru called Siepi. Because I really needed a drink.
About those wines
After a glass of Villa Marcello Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut Millesimato, a truly premier league sparkler, we moved onto four vintages of the Siepi – 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2013, whilst gorging on yummy Petersham Nurseries sharing plates.
Whilst we don’t see as much of Siepi in the UK as, say the Americans, Scandinavians and Canadians who are the three largest export markets after Italy that consumes the lion’s share, this will hopefully change.
The 2005 vintage had its issues in Tuscany but this vintage in particular of those shown was outstanding – rich, savoury nose inviting you into a deep garnet with red brown edges. There was great purity to this wine, plenty of rich fruit balanced by clear lines of acidity.
Given that it was only two years younger, the 2007 had a much more youthful mouth feel. As for the 2013 which is a most elegant vintage at this estate, this is worth tasting if you can – and if it ages anywhere as gracefully as the 2005 would be a smart investment.
Suitably fortified it was then time to leave the world of gastronomy and head out again into the world of modern art, some of which bizarrely started making great sense.