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Archive for March, 2009

Wine for Barbie?

According to this CBS News report in 2006, women buy more than half of the wine sold in this country. And many winemakers have resorted to using labels and names they believe women will fall for. Hence, the popularity of so-called critter wines. Some of the wines mentioned in this report have names straight out of Barbie’s wine cellar–you know, the one she has in her Malibu beach house. I don’t know about you, but wines with bubblegum appeal are not for me. I’m attracted to labels that are works of art–and wine that pleases the palate.

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"Paving Way"

"Paving Way"

The whimsy of the drawing on this label caught my eye when I was trawling the wine section of my local supermarket last week. Surprised to see the artist credited on the back label, I bought a bottle of Strong Arms shiraz. Though the wine is from South Australia, the artist is an American.

Mel Kadel is an artist who lives in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles. She shares her studio/apartment, which is a former stagecoach, with her boyfriend, artist Travis Millard. Their studio was featured on the blog Apartment Therapy.

In an interview, Los Angeles artist Mel Kadel describes her style as “mooshy.” When she can’t find old paper, she stains paper with coffee to make it look old and uses pen and ink.

Each of her illustrations tells a story and typically features some version of the same female character. She told Poketo:

I like having a story anchor what I’m working on, but don’t want it to be screaming out. I like thinking about obstacles and getting over them and turning upside down, and trying to keep running forward.

Kadel designed six labels featuring Ms. Strong Arms shiraz for R Wines, founded in 2005 by Dan Philips and Chris Ringland. Imported by The Grateful Palate Imports (http://www.gratefulpalateimports.com/wine/250.html), R Wines is based in Australia.

Kadel is represented by the Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, California. You can view her playful artwork on the gallery’s site. Greeting cards featuring her illustrations are available at Little Paper Airplanes.

As for the shiraz itself, Robert Parker gives it 91 points.

"Foot Bath"

"Foot Bath"

"Touch Down"

"Touch Down"

The Squeeze

The Squeeze

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My first cats, Willow and Tasha, were Siamese seal points. When I spotted this wine featuring Siamese cats at my local wine store, I had to buy it. I e-mailed the owners of Azienda Agricola Martilde, in Rovescala, Italy, in the Oltrepò Pavese region, to see whether they could send me some labels. They obliged. The illustrations are by one of the owners, Antonella Tacci, who is a painter. She and her husband, Raimondo Lombardi, own three Siamese. Here’s what they wrote:

As you might have seen on the internet, we are Siamese cats lovers and owners. Currently, we have three: Mantissa, a blue-point female, that is on the Rosso Mantissa wine label, and her two children: Medea, a female black oriental, that is on the Malvasia Dedica white wine, and Manfredi, a male seal point Siamese, that is only on a private label, specially designed for a restaurant in Boston, and not yet released.

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Budini

I admit it: I buy wine that has cats on the label. I have two kitties, Clara and Sadie, who are lynxpoints–and littermates. Budini wines caught my eye because of the orange cat with elongated striped front legs against a black background. I’ve only had the reds–both nice. My dining room is in the middle of renovation. For art, I plan to frame wine labels featuring cats. Katie of Vine Connections, which imports Budini wines, sent me some of these labels.

Budini is named after the rare and beautiful wild pampas cat of Argentina, Oncifelis colocolo budini. This furry and elusive cat can be found from the grassy grazing plains of the Argentine pampas to the high-elevation foothills of the Andes where Argentina’s finest wine grapes are grown. This attractively striped feline has the unusual ability to make itself look much larger than it actually is by straightening its fur up to almost 3 inches when frightened. Its diet consists primarily of guinea pigs, ground-dwelling birds, and even poultry. ~ Vine Connections

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About Vine Connections

Since 1999, Vine Connections is a Sausalito, California-based importer of artisan wines from Argentina.

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