Founded in 1998, Puerta Del Sol is my wine shop of choice here in the city of Antwerp. The quality of their wine leaves you knowing they really care about wine. They visit each of their suppliers, check-in during the harvest to see what techniques are used and, over the years, have developed the ability to know immediately if the wine has been enhanced in ways that fail to meet their quality control standards.
I wasn't surprised to learn that Puerta Del Sol was born out of a passion for wine and Spain shared by owners – Guy, Frank and Jules. They host wine-tasting weekends several times a year, an open-door day, where people are welcome to come along and taste what they have in stock.
Something I find relatively common here in this Flemish city is modesty… a failure to beat the drum loudly. And so one day, in a conversation where I asked the right questions somehow, English-speaker that I am, I learned about a rather exciting art initiative organised by Puerta Del Sol.
BOTART is an art project that began in Mallorca, with Araceli Servera, oenologist and member of a family that has been creating Ribas wines since 1711.
The Ribas website explains that BOTART is all about 'uniting the world of wine with the world of creativity'. The central ideas is about raising the profile of artists living and working in their respective regions in Spain. That said, over the years, the Spanish version has extended its reach and in amongst those Mallorcan artists already featured are German and Egyptian-born artists. The Antwerp version, known as Botart de Amberes, is still all about artists here in Antwerp.
BOTART acknowledges and celebrates the creativity that goes into both painting and the art of wine-making. Honoring the fact that passion and imagination are required in both disciplines.
As retailers of the Ribas line of wines in Antwerp, Puerta Del Sol decided to answer the Spanish BOTART with their own version here and so Botart de Amberes was born. Heading the project are Guy Voet from Puerta Del Sol, Ernest Van Buynder of Mukha, and Adriaan Raemdonck from De Zwarte Panter Gallery. Together these three invite artists to take part in Botart de Amberes.
The 2013 event was not just about celebrating the two new artists - Guy Leclercq and Leonard Leenders - but it was also about the fact this is their third year running the project. Previous barrel artworks have come from Frieda Van Dun, Carolien Huber and Nick Andrews, with each barrel painted in a style that is representative of the artists usual work.
And just in case you're thinking these guys sound like people you might want to buy wine from, English and other languages are absolutely no problem. They're Belgians from Flanders. They do languages ...
You can find them and their divine wines at their shop here in Antwerp - Puerta Del Sol, Ter Rivierenlaan 118, 2100 Deurne.
The shot that follows was taken during speeches made at this years Botart de Amberes, on the evening when the two new artists were announced. I love looking for shots that are a little unusual and this was taken without flash in the offices of acerta, hosts of the event.
I was out photographing an event for friends on Wednesday night and while there I met a lovely woman called Nina Coolsaet. She is a Belgian Bio-Engineer living in Spain and she has the most delightful story about her Spanish family and their vineyard located to the north of Alicante.
Avi, Catalan for 'grandfather', is the name on the label of wine being tasted today and it is produced on their bodega called Mas L'Altet. This morning I had the pleasure of beginning this misty cold Antwerpen Saturday over at Puerta Del Sol, interviewing Nina.
Interview to follow. The photograph that follows, Frank, Nina, and Guy at the Botart de Amberes Event, 2013