The fine art of Chris Bacon

A painter whose works inspire a deeper appreciation of nature around us.

Chris Bacon has much to say through art, and his merit as a visual story-teller calls us to listen carefully.  Acute detail and realism infuse his paintings with inspiring effect.

Few artists so concentrate their scope on one particular subject as he does; almost every time he picks up his brush, it is in appreciation of one animal: the bird.  His admiration for birds conveys fluidity and life in minute detail.

My wife and I are blessed to own a couple of Chris’s original paintings and several prints. Here I will focus on the painting, Flotilla,” and a few of his other fine works …

Flotilla, by Chris Bacon

‘Flotilla‘ is a beautiful painting to behold! Its grace is peaceful and captivating. One of the most moving paintings I’ve ever experienced. There is fluidity, movement, emotion, softness, strength, and innocence in this work.  At nearly 30 inches wide, it’s a large piece, with a real presence.

The original work proudly hangs in our dining room.

Visit the artist’s official website at http://www.chrisbacon.com/

Chris’s career began in earnest when his Burlington art teacher introduced him to Robert Bateman, another local art teacher, who encouraged Chris’s talent. At the age of 19, his first exhibition sold out in three minutes on the preview night. That night launched a brilliant 40 year international career and extensive distinction for his artistic talent.

Bacon grew up in many places around the world as his family followed his father’s work relocations. One of Chris’s favourite childhood locations was Bermuda. He returns often. He is equally drawn to the north and camps and canoes often. He was recognized in 2004 with the Master Wildlife Artist Award from Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Additional Reading …

We’ve followed Bacon’s career over several years. Following are a few helpful links.

Be sure to check out the new NFTs that Chris has issued (see under New Links)!

New Links

Blast from the past

This blog has followed wine and the arts for many years. Here are some memorable moments blogging about Chris:

Awards and Commissions:

The following awards and commissions are listed on Chris’s website.
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Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue.

A worthy single-hop pale ale showcasing the Citra hop.

Pseudo Sue Pale Ale

I’ve been wanting to try any one of Toppling Giant’s beers for some time. Some of their brews finally reached my area, so I was excited to finally experience their pale ale, Pseudo Sue.

Appearance

The beer is pale gold, and appears in the glass like a hazy orange juice, with a touch of sediment. These characteristics already tell me this beer is made with authentic natural ingredients.

Aroma

The Citra hop is essentially the star here. It imparts a good punch of grapefruit and pine aroma notes with all-around citrus flavors, accented by tropical fruit like mango, orange and pineapple. Sue starts off fantastic, and it finishes fantastic. Enjoy it on your patio on a warm summer day, or in a beer garden!

Taste

This ale doesn’t disappoint. Delicate in body. Relatively mild in bitterness. Loads of interesting dimensions! Pseudo Sue is a balanced pale ale with all the right things going on in the glass, especially if you’re a craft beer fan. Flavors come across non-bitter, and the Citra continues to shine throughout the drinking experience of this creamy ale.

Final Thoughts

Pseudo Sue is a fun, solid, pale ale. Medium-bodied, with average carbonation. Delicate, yet bold in tropical flavors. Creamy. A fun, bright experience in a glass. – 5.8% ABV, 45 IBU.

Toppling Goliath Brewery

About the Brewery: Toppling Goliath Brewing Company gets it right., and they’re winning awards hand over fist. The owners of the Iowa-based craft brewery, Clark and Barbara Lewey, got started in home brewing before taking the plunge to make a business of it. In about a decade, they’ve become famous for their highly rated IPAs, barrel-aged stouts, and other innovative flavor creations. Their distribution network now covers 30 states.

Website: tgbrews.com
TG Beer Finder: tgbrews.com/beer-finder

Review by: Paul Singer (The Wine Baron)


Icewine alternatives. How sweet!

Icewine is a great dessert wine or apéritif. Here are some alternatives …

SAUTERNES and TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE

As you know, icewine is made from grapes that have hung on vine far beyond normal harvest time and have become very dry (and frozen).

Other Dessert Wines

A similar type of wine, that also shares the characteristic of highly concentrated flavors, is a “late harvest” wine. Two very nice examples are:  SAUTERNES (from France), and TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE (from Austria and Germany). The name literally means “dried berry selection.” Both of these sweet wines are complex, interesting, fun, and aristocratic.

Chateau la Tour Blanche produces both table wines and late harvest. Their late harvest is a great sweet Sauternes to try.  Historic, aristocratic, and a true “find.”

Kracher of Austria is my pick as one of the best of Austria’s Neusiedlersee sweet wines.  Kracher produce a range of wines, including Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Not easy to find, but worth the effort!


Bella Terra Red.

An endearing red blend from Bella Terra’s own estate vineyards.

PondView Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake has recently changed its  name to Bella Terra Vineyards.

The 2018 vintage of Bella Terra Red is a blend of the three main red varietals that grow in their vineyards: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Hospitality at Bella Terra!

This lovely medium-bodied red wine has a charmingly bright ruby/garnet color. The nose has a rich dusty earthiness reminiscent of many wonderful wines from Bordeaux. Fragrances of red and black berries and currants with roasted plums and a slight smokiness rise out of the glass. Flavors of red and black fruit caress the palate with slight eucalyptus notes. A long, velvety finish, and firm tannins round out the wine.

Bella Terra Red is balanced, structured, and enjoyable. Harvested partially from their oldest vineyards (about 30 years old), this wine ably represents the terroir of this part of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Bella Terra Red was aged 18 months in French Oak barrels. This helps make it the substantial wine that it is.

The Bella Terra winery and its charming vineyards are well worth a visit. Many B&Bs are in the area if you want to make a weekend of it. You can buy this wine at LCBO stores or directly from the winery by phone or online at their website. They will ship Canada-wide. Currently on sale for $21.95 CAD. Notes by The Wine Baron tasting panel.

Blast from the past … Check out our fun video of our visit to their harvest party.


Beef Bourguignon recipe and video.

This is my personal recipe for this dish. I’ve taken the liberty to add techniques and ingredients that I learned in Chateauneuf du Pape*, with additional ideas from my Austrian heritage. These factors produce a delicious and rich version of the popular stew.

* My Chateauneuf experience was with winemaker Mireille Fabre of Domaine Tour Saint-Michel. Not only one of the great winemakers, but a great cook!

YouTube video

Ingredients

  • One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
  • 3 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds marbled stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium leek, diced
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, full-bodied (like Cotes du Rhone or Bordeaux)
  • 1 litre brown beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 16 to 20 red pearl onions, small
  • 3 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns (tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, (half quartered, half of them full)

Cooking Directions

Cut bacon into lardons (sticks ¼-inch thick and 1 ½ inches long). Simmer lardons for 10 minutes in a bit of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a casserole or large stainless steel Dutch Oven over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

Dry beef in paper towels. Heat fat in casserole until very hot. Sauté beef and diced onion separately until onion is golden brown and beef is browned on all sides; sprinkle on the flour to coat the beef. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrots. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef, bacon and onion to the casserole on stove element, medium heat, with the browned carrots and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pour the beef broth into the casserole slowly to allow the heat to maintain the cooking process. Do the same slowly with most of the bottle of wine, just enough of both so that the meat is just covered. Add the tomato paste, diced leek and crushed garlic as well.

Allow the whole thing to cook about 45 minutes on the element for some reduction to take place. Then place covered casserole in middle position of preheated oven. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees. Cook for three to four hours, checking frequently after the 3 hour mark to make sure there is still enough liquid to keep it from getting too dry. Add the peppercorns in cheesecloth for the last hour or two and fish it out at the end or earlier if the stew tastes sufficiently peppery (which should be subtle).

While the beef is cooking (about an hour before it’s done) prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown evenly.

Do the same with the mushrooms, but they will require only 4 to 5 minutes in the frying pan. Transfer both to a saucepan. Add ½ cup of the stock and salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has become thick.

When the casserole meat is tender, skim fat off the top. Skim fat from the onion/mushroom pan as well. On the stovetop, Pour the contents of this pan into the casserole.

You should have about 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If sauce and fat separate too much, you can add a bit of flour. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with roasted or boiled potatoes, noodles or rice, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Backgrounder: I’ve always been a fan of the version from Burgundy. But my visit to Domaine Tour Saint-Michel in Chateauneuf du Pape added a new dimension when I saw how they made it. I then decided to add some aspects of how I make my family recipe Viennese Goulasch (basically more onion cooked so long that it reduces to simply thickening the sauce). I hope you enjoy!

Published by Paul Singer

Personal: Wine, travel, people. Professional: content writer/blogger, mentor, marketer in the crypto space. Check out my brand new blog, Crypto Guy Paul.


Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Merlot

The trio of Bordeaux originals that have take the entire world by storm! Three “big” full bodied red wines to enjoy.

Whether a bottle that’s a blend of all three varietals from Bordeaux, or choose individually as a single varietal from a region like California, Australia, or South Africa, these are the blockbusters that satisfy the palate wanting a bold and complex red wine.

The most famous trio of Bordeaux red wine varietals. Originally from the iconic wine region of Bordeaux, the three have arguably become the most famous red wines around the world. As a blend, either from the original region or elsewhere, these 3 exude robust, bold aromas and tasting notes, often with a pleasant earthy quality.

In Bordeaux, the varietals are generally blended together to create the perfect combination in a bold red wine. Two other varietals are also officially available for blending in Bordeaux: Petit Verdot and Malbec.

In most other countries, the first 3 are often bottled as a single varietal. Sometimes you’ll find a new world blend of two or three of these. For example a Cabernet Merlot, or a Meritage. And of course Argentina has made Malbec it’s own, having specialized in it as a single varietal for many years.

As single varietals, you’ll find the following characteristics …

Cabernet Sauvignon

(classic tasting notes of black currants, cassis, cherry, cedar and spice)

The principal red varietal in Bordeaux where it is usually blended with Merlot and sometimes Cabernet Franc.  It’s frequently bottled as a single varietal in the New World and is thus called simply “Cabernet Sauvignon.”  Often called the king of wine varietals, it is rich in tannins, full-bodied and provides the strength and complexity necessary to make a wine that’s good for aging in a cellar.

Tip: Remember, cabernet sauvignon is both the name of the grape variety when unfermented and also the varietal when it is made into wine. It originates in Bordeaux & is now produced in many New World wine regions…


Cabernet Franc

(Classic notes: herbal, tobacco; green pepper only when grapes were not sufficiently ripe when harvested)

Closely related to the familiar Cabernet Sauvignon, this grape is being vinified in the New World to make some very interesting wines. Ontario is making the best Cab Franc at this time. Try a Lake Erie North Shore version, for example, from Viewpointe Estate Winery.

It is traditionally used in Bordeaux as a blending partner in wines, particularly to modulate or soften the wine’s character.


Merlot

(classic tasting notes of plums, blueberries & cherries)

Merlot is a very popular wine of its own, though traditionally, it has been used for blending with other grapes to shape the character of a wine, particularly in Bordeaux. This is a wine that’s friendly to everyone’s palate, even a newcomer to the red wine scene. It can offer up some rich berry, honey, or mint, yet is not as tannic as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Back to Wine 101 Part 1 | Wine 101 Part 2


Sauvignon Blanc

 Text

(classic tasting notes of cut grass, lemon, herbs and a hint of gooseberry)

Sauvignon Blanc is a popular alternative to Chardonnay. It makes a crisp, light wine. The grape and vinification history originated in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.

Notes: Herbal flavors, olive and a soft, smoky flavor. It can range from sweet to dry, but is typically quite light. American Sauvignon Blanc is often quite prominently “grassy” whereas the Canadian version has stronger notes of gooseberry, yet balanced otherwise. New Zealand versions are nice but often quite rustic. This is a principle variety in Sauternes, the sweet and elegant dessert wine from the area of the same name in Bordeaux. Frequent blending partners are Semillon and a bit of Muscadelle.

Food pairing: serve it with cheese assortments, spring vegetables, and shellfish. Great with Thai and Greek food!

Back to Wine 101 Part 1 | Wine 101 Part 2


Wine 101 – Part 2

Back to “Part 1”

Part Two … (the rest of the world’s top wine regions)

Wine Regions of Italy, Spain, the U.S., and more

Having covered the regions of France in Wine 101 Part 1, this second section now covers additional exciting wine regions to round out your growing wine experience. Look up the regions, check them out on your favorite GPS map, and try each of the varietals listed below. This will take some time, but won’t it be fun?!?

Italy

Historic and cultural, Italian wines are to be discovered and savoured.

Italian vineyards

SPECIAL ITALIAN WINES

Barolo

The Piedmont region in the northwest of Italy produces Barolo, the king of Italian red wines. Made from Nebbiolo, this small appellation’s wines are beautiful to experience. Whether it is saved for years, or consumed now, this is certainly one Italian red that benefits by aging.

Barbaresco

Also from Piedmont, this wine is made with Nebbiolo and Barbaresco (which is the queen to Barolo’s king). Appreciated for its finesse and aromas, wines of Barbaresco are among Italy’s best.

Brunello

Brunello di Montalcino is the best of wines made with Sangiovese. This Tuscan red wine gets its moniker from the local name for Sangiovese (Brunello) and Montalcino, a small medieval hill village overlooking the Tuscan countryside. Brunello’s can be complex wines with good aging potential.

Amarone

Amarone from the Veneto region is a concentrated and robust dry red wine made from dried grapes. Made from native Italian grapes, Amarone is a wine that impresses the palate that is looking for an intense red wine.

Image: an example of a fine Amarone!

ITALIAN RED WINES FOR EVERY DAY

Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico refers to the classic growing area of this well-known Italian red wine. Produced with slightly stricter regulations than regular Chianti, a Classico pairs easily with a wide variety of foods.

Barbera d’Asti

The red grape Barbera produces lovely wines with good acidity and soft tannins. From Piedmont, they please most every palate.

Dolcetto d’Alba

Another red from Piedmont. Bigger tannins than Barbera, but less than Nebbiolo, wines from Dolcetto achieve a nice balance.

Prosecco

Believe it or not, Prosecco is an every day bubbly, not necessarily about celebration. Have it often, it has relatively low alcohol and has a delightfully fruity and punchy experience. Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Veneto region around the city of Treviso, north of Venice. Made with the grape of the same name, also called Glera.

Produced using an affordable technique called the Tank Method and is thus cheaper to produce than champagne.

Spain

Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and upcoming regions are waiting to be discovered. Gorgeous wines!

We love Spanish wines. Try the wines of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, or one of the hot new regions!  Spain has the largest acreage of vineyards in the world, but lower wine production than France and Italy. The largely dry climate allows for easy organic farming of the grapes (whether certified or not), and is a winemaker’s dream for the making of truly fine wines.

Major Spanish Grape Varieties

  • Tempranillo
  • Garnacha
  • Monastrell

Look for any of the above three varietals in your wine shop’s Spanish section.

United States

Wines from the U.S. have become a powerhouse of the wine business. You’ll get excellent wines for good prices from the United States.

90% of wine from the United States is from California, which has thousands of wineries in such famous wine regions as Napa, Sonoma, and Central Coast.

Major Grape Varieties


Well, that’s it. If you’ve gone over Part One and this page, which is Part Two of our Wine 101, you’re a graduate. CONGRATULATIONS. I hope you keep growing in your knowledge and appreciation of wine. – The Wine Baron


Wine 101

A Quick Guide and Introduction to Wine.

Wine might seem a bit daunting at first. We can help you with that. Enjoy the process.  We’ll take it one step at a time.

Step One: WINE REGIONS

A good way to learn about wine is to learn about wine regions. I’ve included special wine regions here, ones that gave birth to the most popular grape varieties for making wine. Interestingly enough, they’re all in FRANCE.

Be sure to learn these regions here and get to know the top varietals within the region (for example for Bordeaux, the top 3 reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Merlot). I suggest your homework should be to buy and try these varietals from the original region, and then try New World examples. So that would bring you to cabs and merlots from such places as California and South Africa.


A. – BURGUNDY  (Bourgogne in French)

Located in the centre of the map above (shaded in gray), Burgundy produces both whites & reds, often barrel-aged. Chardonnay is a rich and buttery white, Pinot Noir is a soft, delicate red.

Main White Varietal:

Chardonnay

Main Red Varietal:

Pinot Noir

B. – BORDEAUX

bordeaux

Bordeaux is in South Western France (shaded gray, lower left on map). This is the famous wine region with the world’s most sought-after wines. They are rich, bold and full bodied.

Main White Varietals:

Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Main Red Varietals:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot


C. – RHÔNE VALLEY

Rhone Valleu

The Rhône is in South-Eastern France (shaded dark gray on map), and is divided into the Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône, home of SabletGigondas, Cotes du Rhone, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Northern Rhône wines are delicate and light.

The Southern Rhône is especially captivating and gorgeous to visit. I hope you add it to your list of areas to see. The regions and wines are amazing.The wines can be delicate (usually in the north), and robust (southern Rhone). They are often more “rustic” in character than the wines of Bordeaux.

The wines from this geographically beautiful part of France are every bit as exciting as those from Bordeaux but in a different way.

Check out my visit to the Rhône here.

Main White Varietal (Northern Rhône):

Viognier  (classic tasting notes of apricots, peaches and wood)

This rare varietal originated in Condrieu, in the northern Rhône. Very nice examples are found in the Rhône valley, California, and Ontario.

Main Red Varietal (Northern Rhone):

Syrah  (classic tasting notes: prunes, spices and berries)

The Rhône region has grown it for centuries. You can get some very nice Rhône wines that are 100% Syrah, particularly from the northern Rhône.  Other regions blend additional varietals with it, for example, in the southern Rhône.  Syrah can possess a mineral, blueberry, and spicy/peppery flavor.

Main Varietals (Southern Rhone):

About 17 varietals officially available. Grenache and Syrah are usually the major varietals.

Two stars are: Grenache and Syrah, both red and usually blended together and with other minor varietals. Try a Southern Rhône wine. They are a discovery!

CONCLUSION for PART ONE: Get to know the Burgundy, Bordeaux and Rhône wine regions and their wine varietals. 80% of the varietals on everyone’s wine radar comes from these three viticultural areas. Taste, and pair with food, each region’s top wine varietals as listed above, and over time, compare them with New World examples of those same varietals. It’ll be fun to compare a California meritage blend to the original blend of the same cab/merlot varietals from Bordeaux France! Follow the same process for the other two French wine regions. Enjoy!

A note about wine experiences. My wife and I have been doing this a long time. We’ve covered the world of wine regions and attended or led tastings all over as well. It’s a truly great part of life. And now, let’s get to part two …

To Part Two


Thanks for joining me in the wonderful world of wine! – The Wine Baron

Sablet. A sensuous Southern Rhone wine from one of the most romantic villages in France.

The vineyards of Sablet, in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, are built on a mound of sand, from which its name derives. The town and its surrounding vineyards are located at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The terroir is of sandy soils and decalcified red clays mixed with pebbles of various sizes.

Sablet was founded by the Counts of Toulouse. The papacy of Avignon owned these lands and confirmed the viticultural region officially in the 14th century. Rich winemaking history continued until the end of the 19th century. Then the vineyards were destroyed by phylloxera. Incidentally, it was a Sabletain who, by inventing the grafting machine, made it possible to restore the vineyards to health.

Sablet acquired its wine region title of nobility, “Côtes du Rhône Villages Communal” in 1974. Wine production is 90% red wines, made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. With a full bodied fleshy mouthfeel, the region’s red wines are full-bodied, with flavors of ripe blackberries, violets and dried fruits. White wines account for 8% of production. Sablet’s structured whites are noble, fresh and delicious, characterized by spicy notes with a touch of vanilla. The remaining 2% are rosé wines.

I think back to my most memorable visit to village a few short years ago. A fine experience it was to have a vertical tasting of Sablet wines in the old stone building set up with dozens of local domaines (wineries) for a bunch of us wine journalists. We tasted vintages that went back 20 years. You could taste the progression of maturity as you went back year by year. All memorable. One of the best was from Piaugier. I had the distinct pleasure to meet Jean-Marc Autran from Domaine de Piaugier. Loved his wines then. Love them now! He continues to produce outstanding wines of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre. They are rustic yet elegant, rich, yet sometimes delicate.  Sensuous flavours in the glass.

Jean-Marc and his wife Sophie cultivate 30 hectares of vines. They hav 12.5 hectares there in the Sablet AOC. And a small plot of 3.5 hectares is within the nearby Gigondas Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée area, and 14 hectares are Côtes du Rhône vineyards. One of the advantages of the domaine is that even withn an AOC, the vineyards are split into many smaller plots, each with its different soil type : clay with limestone and sand, clay with chalk, and sand and gravel soils. The weather is even slightly different from one vineyard to another, creating its own influence on the grapes from plot to plot. Another advantage Piaugier enjoys: the vines by this time are 20 to 40 years old. They’re in their prime. These are truly excellent wines.

Try to get you hands on Piaugier Sablet Rouge. This outstanding wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Grown in mostly clay-limestone sand, the grapes are picked by hand and macerated in concrete vats for 2 to 3 weeks before pressing. The Grenache is aged in the vats for 18 months. The Syrah is aged in old barrels. The two varietals are then blended for bottling. This is an elegant, rustic, dark, full-bodied extravaganza in a bottle. A must if you love wine!

Yes, I’m a huge fan of Sablet (the town and the wines). They’re a gem. This is southeastern France at its best and the wines are liquid testimony of the fact.

Above: Interactive Google Satellite Map

I remember the vertical tastings coming to a close that night. A misty black shrouded the nearby foothills as we drove back to our Bed and Breakfast in Cairrane. As we wound our way down narrow roads, little galaxies of light punctuated the black, each a village in the dark, nestled in the Alpine foothills here in the Southern Rhône.

Here are a couple of low res pics from my old cell phone’s outdated camera that day …

Image posted by MobyPicture.com
Sablet_indistance
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