Photographer captures complexity of wine

Photographer Colin Hampden-White has created a series of images representing the complex flavours of noble grape varieties as though each picture was a C17th Dutch still life painting.


Representing Riesling. Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

He released the images exclusively to the drinks business yesterday, having created and captured representations of the first four of the noble grapes on Saturday at his godfather’s farmhouse in Norfolk with the help of Henry Matson from Farr Vintners.

Speaking to db about the series, which follows his portraits of distillers and winemakers, Hampden-White said the urge to copy the style of an Old Master with photography had been plaguing him for several months.

Inspired by the work of Victoria Hall, a judge in the Louis Roederer Awards last year where Hampden-White picked up The Artistry of Wine Award, he said, “The idea of copying the style of the great masters has been at the back of my head for six months.”

As displayed over the following pages, each photograph represents the flavour profile of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling, and has been taken in the style of a Dutch still life from the first half of the seventeenth century.

Hampden-White explained that influences for his latest work included painters Willem Kalf, Pieter Claesz and Floris van Dyck, although his photographs include a modern touch to make them entertaining, as well as visually pleasing and educational.

“I put in some modern objects to make it clear I’m not trying to do direct copies.”

Hence, look carefully at the composition representing Chardonnay and there’s a Digestive biscuit included among the more traditional items, while the Riesling image above contains a petrol nozzle.

“I didn’t want to be too serious about it,” said Hampden-White.

He also said his aim was to highlight the vast range of flavours obtained from any one of the noble varieties.

“I wanted to convey the complexity of wine, the range of flavours from a single grape variety.”

Hampden-White plans to add representations for Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc shortly, and exhibit the completed series at the Rebecca Hossack art gallery on Charlotte Street in London later this year.

Although he is yet to decide on the cost of each image, he told db that they would cost much less than his previous winemaker portraits (which were priced between £2,000 and £3,000), but would be printed in a smaller size and be produced in greater quantities – possibly creating 30 editions of each variety.

10 Responses to “Photographer captures complexity of wine”

  1. Dirk-Antoon Samyn says:

    Fantastic photos! Well done! More of this please!

  2. a very very inspiring piece of pure art – ive never commented like this before
    the pictures are as peotry and truly reflect & rock my world
    Congratulaions Colin Hampden-White , may we be lucky enough to see morre of your work ( cant wait to see the Shiraz & Chenin blanc)

  3. The wine world needs more visual ways of getting tasting notes across and these are beautiful examples. Lovely work, Colin! They’re still life ‘vinalogies’!

  4. These are wonderful! I hope that the final set will be available in an “affordable” price range as well. Looking forward to the remainder of this set (and hopefully a second set if it proves successful).

  5. Ed Burnett says:

    Very clever and interesting. Don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this done before. Stunning & beautifully done. I hope I manage to get some when they are produced.

  6. Nick says:

    Wow, what a series! A fresh and original take on the world of wine and a clever idea well executed. Bravo!

  7. sparkling ed says:

    When a picture is telling more than thousand words
    Super !
    Looking forward to the next series

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