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"Nana" - the famous courtesan of the painter Edouard Manet - as a neighbour at a Bordeaux tasting in the "art city" of Winterthur.

Wherever one speaks of Zurich's art and culture scene, the name Winterthur comes up. Winterthur is a traditional industrial city with world-famous and art-loving patrons, with 17 museums and almost 100,000 inhabitants.

Nana by Edouard Manet% On loan from the Kunsthalle Hamburg

In this city, the famous "Nana" in the scandalous painting by Edouard Manet, which is otherwise at home in the Hamburg Kunsthalle, is temporarily on display in the Museum Oskar Reinhard. About 100 metres away, in the idyllic Stadtpark, the "Barockhüsli" (Baroque Cottage) is quietly dreaming away, usually hardly noticed.

In this "Lusthäuschen", surrounded by trees and vines, 16 curious people gather who want to experience the Bordelais sensually. "Get to know the land of Bordeaux!"

Those who are now expecting one of the usual tasting reports can spare themselves a disappointment if they stop reading. The "neighbour" Nana has inspired me to assign a few famous wines to famous pictures. Twenty growths from the Bordelais were available. The tasting "Nana" was "Cheval blanc" 1992 - already I see the Bordeaux lovers wrinkling their noses: a bad vintage! A scandal! This wine should be worthy of the great Nana? Parker "only" gives it 77 points, Bettane 8 out of 10 and Gabriel has downgraded it to a meagre 14 out of 20: "Still gives restrained pleasure as a lean wine". I take a sip - a rage develops in me. In 1877, Manet wanted to exhibit "Nana" in the famous "Salon" in Paris, but was rejected by the gentlemen of the jury - for aesthetic and moral reasons.

"Barockhüsli" in the city garden of Winterthur

"Cheval blanc" 92 is also rejected by the "high guild" of pure wine art:. "not worthy of a Premier Grand Cru!", says René Gabriel. But what I have in my glass is "nanish" - that is: "a lady of social relevance. It may be that it shows "only a thin wine red", is "only" fragrant, delicate and fine - and that the "pressure is missing". But the lady is seductive, perhaps slightly spoiled, but attractive, not only because of her origin. No, because she offers that pleasure which fine society indignantly rejects but then sensually enjoys.

In the Bordelais, the quality "ladylike" tends to be attributed to wines from Margaux. For me, it is St-Emilion this time. But another "lady" by Manet, who otherwise resides a few hundred metres away in the "Villa Flora", now keeps the "Nana" company. It is the "Amazon", also a representative of the Parisian "fin du siècle". A distinguished appearance, in a dark, almost black suit, with a black top hat, serious but soft features, strict, demure, powerful, yet slightly frivolous. She stands in a dimensionless room, against a light blue background painted in a fuzzy colour. This reminds me of the 1994 Montrose, which has something of the lady's grace, slightly reserved and inaccessible, yet powerful and idiosyncratic. Even the light, shimmering broad brushstrokes in the background I think I recognise in the wine.

Presentation of the Bordeaux tasting

Now my imagination goes completely on art journeys. Pavillon Rouge, 1996 - the second wine of Margaux - which is not too much inferior to the great Margaux - describes the milieu of the "Nana" who is just about to put on make-up. Ambiguously-ambiguously in front of the Spiegel, in her shimmering négligé, with the noble gentleman sitting on the sofa on the right in a distinguished pose with a walking stick in his hand. This is Pavillon Rouge, after all, with its rapidly unfolding, somewhat sweet bouquet and delicate aromas. There we have entered the boudoir of the slightly frivolous lady. And the gentleman on the right? Only cropped: Palmer 1994, the black label alone suits him. The wine also seems somewhat ponderous, concentrated, contours only hinted at, but a richness and power on the palate.

In complete contrast, Angélus 1986, fully matured, a rich "old Bordeaux". It reminds little of a sweet Baroque angel, but rather of the punishing archangel - Gabriel, for example. And thus he is much more suited to the absent "Chalk Rock on Rügen" by Caspar David Friedrich, a masterpiece that was lent to Essen and Hamburg for a few months, against the beautiful "Nana".

This brings us full circle: Gabriel, I don't mean the angel, but the Swiss wine critic, doesn't fit in at all with "Nana" and her Parisian depravity. Gabriel is there to judge!


Yours sincerely

Peter (Züllig)

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