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Channeling Bella Foster: Spring Sips
filed under: Hip Tasters,

painting by Bella Foster; pair with: Caveau du Mont July Bugey Cerdon Rose - AKA the sweet, pink bubbly that could

My Instagram and Pinterest addictions have officially spilled over into real life: I've been inspired to pair wines with some of the incredible artworks I've discovered online. Bella Foster is easily a favorite. The LA based painter - whose work you may have seen on whimsical-cool scarves and notebooks by Kate Spade - renders delicious interiors I would literally like to crawl into and inhabit with a favorite glass of wine. Of course, which favorite I select depends on the picture.

The common denominator across Bella's pieces easily is color (for more on the artist, who shows often in Southern California, check out this Mohawk interview with insightful commentary on her inspiration and method). Oh, and pets - animal lovers will appreciate the frequent appearance of feline and canine companions nestled on cushions and such. It's pure fun - pretty and comfy and bright-tastic-inspiring. Let's take a look and talk pairings, shall we?

painting by Bella Foster; pair with Liquid Farm "Golden Slope" Chardonnay

Nikki and Jeff Nelson (previously featured on the blog!) are favorites ever since Nikki DM'd me on Facebook and asked if I'd taste her wine. With the first batch released in 2009 (just 4 barrels!) the So Cal couple are now quickly snapping up critical praise for their balanced and Burgundy-inspired Chards from Santa Rita. Golden Slope beautifully walks the line between Californian and Burgundian - lush enough to please the locals yet crisp, focused and mineral-driven enough to turn heads among international-leaning palates. I love the geographic reference this pairing provides - the picture is of the interior of the late Ojai-based artist Beatrice Wood - whose home was not far from Santa Rita.

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painting by Bella Foster; pair with Inman Family Wines Brut Rose Nature Sparkling "Endless Crush"

Kathleen Inman is a master of the sophisticated Cali pour - and her initial forays into bubbly hew true to her rep for stellar balance and depth. The only thing regrettable about this wine is its rarity - there wasn't a lot made. If you're able to track it down (hint: call the winery), you'll be rewarded with a suave, blush-hued bubbly with excellent snap and juiciness on the palate. You could pair it with prosciutto and a crisp baguette - or a gorgeous room with vibrant hints of color as complements. I had the good fortune to taste Kathleen's bubblies with her twice within the last year - and it seems they keep getting better and better...

painting by Bella Foster; pair with Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Drachenstein "Dragonstone" Riesling QbA

BLUE - calls to mind water-kissed river rocks (see wine name: DragonSTONE) and all things cool...hence this pour for the picture. Riesling is so high in acidity it practically sings on the palate, and the refreshing finish - in this case a touch sweet - brings it back to earth for a breezy, effortless-seeming landing. (The abundant minerality in the stony soil ensures it channels those river rocks, too.) Imported by wicked smart wine guru Terry Theise (the man, the myth, the legend!), the wine hails from Germany's Rheingau and is described by Theise thus: "Pointed yet creamy, salty and minty; animated and seductive." How COOL.

painting by Bella Foster; pair with Hirsch "San Andreas Fault" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

With all the buzz we're hearing about Jasmine Hirsch's In Pursuit of Balance events in SF and NY (including yesterday's piece in the WSJ), it seems fitting to include this almost unbelievably good Sonoma Coast pour. Jasmine's family has been growing some of the state's most sought after Pinot Noir grapes for years, and when they began bottling under their own label Jasmine took the helm of sales. The wine is spectacular* - and I love how the name - San Andreas Fault - invokes the jagged pattern on the walls of Bella's painting. Lots of angles on the image, but this wine's super smooth.
* Side note: several bottles of this wine were lifted en route to a client tasting I hosted at an upscale SF hotel last year. Looks like even the box handlers were cued into its legend - much to our chagrin.

painting by Bella Foster; pair with Domaine des Aubuisieres "Cuvee de Silex" Vouvray

I selfishly singled out this image as my fav due to the blonde in the picture-within-the-picture. It seems personal - and doesn't art need to be personal in some way to resonate? - and so I've reserved my (most recent) favorite wine for the pairing. I poured this selection when I spoke at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business' Wine Business Speaker Series last month, where it was - as always - a treat to get back in front of the students and walk them through some great wines and my background.

Dry Vourvray is a hidden gem I can't get enough of - I just love the complex minerality and awkward-awesome, not-often-seen smells (I dig the wet hay and wool notes, the honeyed apple, the piquant lemon curd). It's medium-bodied yet manages to come across as both zesty and refined, and is just viscous enough on the palate to keep the Chardonnay kids satisfied. It's a wine that's complex, that I come back to in order to better understand, and that offers up new interpretations each time based on mood and company.

In other words, it's like a terrific piece of art.

Posted by Courtney on February 23, 2014 11:19 AM