NGW: Blanc de Barat Bordeaux Blanc 2011   Leave a comment

I have my demons, don’t you? 

Hieronymous Bosch had them.  Henry Miller too.  Maybe that’s why their work continues to resonate with me.

I discovered both of these dudes many years ago when I came across Henry Miller’s autobiographical “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch”. 

Miller Time: “Now, where is that girl with the two cherries?”

Just the title alone was enough of a draw for me.  Don’t ask why, perhaps, it just sounded so incongruous.  Perhaps it was because at the time I had no idea that a place called Big Sur even existed.  Maybe it was unfamiliarity with Hieronymous Bosch.  And perhaps it was just the way it sounded as I spoke it out loud. 

“What have you been reading lately?”  

“A cartoon fantasy, Scoobie and Shaggy Do Vegas…”


“Would you believe, Big Sur and…?”


Now if you know some of Miller’s more notorious work and you have been reading this blog, you will understand my attraction.  But there is more to Miller.  He is poetic, prophetic, honest, though capable of fibbing, he is misunderstood–sometimes by me.  But it is clear that he had extreme clarity in his view of the line between right and wrong even if he sometimes blurred, crossed or moved that line in his personal life.  And there was his colorful lifestyle– wives and lovers, including the erotic poet, Anais Nin, a collection of friends and people who were drawn to him– interesting, tortured, bizarre, dull people.   

Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights

And then we have Bosch.  A man who could be credited with the creation of information overload.  But it is not imagery for imagery’s sake.  There are all of these seemingly insignificant details that are pregnant with meaning.  He seemed to be very aware of the imperfections of human morality, frailty, ecstasy and agony.  Was Bosch a man who was haunted by his demons in his everyday existence?  A picture, in Bosch’s case, is truly worth at least a 1,000 words. 

Whatever the motivation or inspiration, he let it all flow from his paint brushes.  Miller’s writing is a bit like that as well– reading his books is a bit like being a being a river rock as he rushes over you with a torrential flow of words that erode and polish your surface at the same time.

One of Bosch’s more famous works, a moralistic triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, depicts the fall from grace, the post-Eden world cast as orgy and the retribution exacted from the human race for those sins.  The fact that he devotes the largest part of the triptych to the party tells me that understood human weakness on personal terms.  How else to explain what appears to be two people getting it on inside a giant mussel shell and elsewhere in this painting.  Plato’s Retreat, that notorious 1970’s New York City sex club, had nothing on the stuff going on in Bosch’s head! 

Yet, despite their lascivious natures, his characters have hollowed out eyes and a bored detachment that is not particularly inviting.  It seems that some of his characters themselves are voyeurs looking out at us.  I suppose we can be both spectators of the freak show and perhaps we are the freak show as well. 

Where am I going with this?  To be able to channel some of the creativity that these two guys had, booze HAD to be involved.  Miller was a drinker.  While at Sig Sur, he certainly drank some very good California wines, and being a writer, he was piss-poor most of the time.  So the wines usually came courtesy of his generous friends.  And there were those years in Paris.  And Bosch must have had his share of mind-twisting elixirs, as well.  In Bosch’s case, it was probably good Belgian beer or perhaps some very young wine like today’s 2011 vintage offering.

Here’s where we pull it all together, kids.  First, a word about the 2011 vintage: Bosch’s message still rings true today.  Pundits and critics alike are strongly suggesting that 2011 Bordeaux wine prices will need to drop significantly from the levels for 2009 and 2010 vintages to reflect the relative drop in quality as compared to 2009 and 2010.   Greed is the demon that is gorging itself at the banquet fueled by these two stellar vintages– how else, can you explain U.S. $1,000++ prices for single bottles from top château?  Some would argue, there is a comeuppance on the horizon when the prices for the 2011 wines are set.  The most avaricious of these producers should face consequences akin to those depicted in the third panel of the triptych.  Facing an abundance of good wine from 2009-10, they may have to price their wines below prices for the decent 2008 vintage.  It’s a nice theory, and it would be great to see, but I don’t really believe that they will reduce prices by the 40-50% that some are calling for.    

Now, onto today’s NGW Wine.   A young wine, from a small producer in what is considered a lesser vintage, does not have to be bad wine.  From the 2011 vintage, this white Bordeaux is an absolute steal at the price I paid– yes, it is the first 2011 we are reviewing.  I thought that this was particularly good when I tasted it and brought some home from a wine tasting a couple of weeks ago.  This is a crowd pleaser of a wine– and at $7 even my financial advisor would be pleased.  

Blanc de Barat Bordeaux Blanc 2011 ($7).  It reminds me of spring rain.  Mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a little semillon thrown in, this is a light, refreshing and flavorful vino.  Guava like sweetness finishing with a well rounded acidity from the citrus flavors which are polished with a touch of lushness and well harnessed if understated minerality.  It has a softness that makes it truly appealing.  Rated **1/2 

While you could have this on its own, it is so much better with food.  Put some shrimp, I mean prawns, on the barbie and start your dinner off on the right foot.  Today’s recommended dish was truly inspired by the Blanc de Barat.  But it takes it name from one of our featured artists.


Grilled Hieronymous Orange Marinated Prawns

  • 2 lbs. of deveined and shelled prawns (leave tails on)
  • 1 tsp. of grated Orange Rind
  • 1 tsp. grated Lime Rind
  • Juice of 1 Valencia Orange
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Roasted Peanut Oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves crushed and mashed into a paste with 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
  1. Whisk together all ingredients and taste the marinade.  Adjust to your taste.
  2. Pour over prawns and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour– every 15 minutes or so turn the prawns over to make sure the marinade seeps into all the crevices
  3. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking
  4. Preheat grill to highest setting. 
  5. Immediately before cooking oil the grill
  6. Cook for no more than 1-2 two minutes per side.  Do not overcook– nobody like rubbery prawns.  If you are not sure how long it will take, do a test run with 1 or two of the little bastards.

Suggested variations: Add a little soy sauce to the marinade.  And how about a little crushed red pepper for touch of lively spice!

Works great as an appetizer for a party or as a main course over a citrusy salad or even an aromatic jasmine rice.

 © Sybarite Sauvage

The Garden of Earthly Delights detail by Hieronymus Bosch

Dirty Birds

If you want to learn more about Bosch, here is a link to a great little review of this painting by a fellow blogger, Taylor Alexandra.

 My boy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted April 3, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

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