1. What was the first wine that really captured your attention and where were you at the time?
The first wine that really captured my attention was Picpoul de Pinet many years ago when it was little known outside of Sète the great seafood port of Languedoc. I had an exhibition there and everyone was so friendly we ate the delicious oysters, razor clams and mussels whilst drinking this delicious local wine I had never heard of before. Nowadays of course it's on the list at many restaurants and bars all over the world One local delicacy of Sète which hasn't become ubiquitous is the Tielle - a spicy little octopus pie – delicious.
2. You travel a lot when your works are exhibited. What is the best location to appreciate art and wine?
It is difficult to beat France for the combination of art and wine. I had a very big exhibition in the town of Poitiers a few years ago which must rank as one of the most pleasant pairings of wine art and food. I am as you know a big fan of the wines of the Loire valley - Vouvray and Saumur particularly - thus and the combination of local delicacies Tourteau Fromage and Fressure - a kind of boudin noir - oysters Charentais - all of which are described in the book documenting my Safari Gastronomique in Poitou Charentes...
3. You spend a fair amount of time working in Greece. What is the wine scene like there?
There is a delicious white called Pine Forest - asyrtiko wutha dash of retsina - unusual but a real find. My good friend Rachel Howard - who is an expert on Greek bars and restaurants says Tinos is the new wine frontier - Volacus and Domaine de Kalathas and Toinos wineries all high up in the granite mountains producing some fantastic natural and organic wines - small production so hard to find outside of Tinos at the moment but up and coming Hatzidakus - who produced some of the best Asyrtiko on Santorini sadly just died quite suddenly so this will now be very precious. On the red side there is Mavrotagano by Sigoles - an ancient grape recently started cultivation again on Santorini; Tsabourbnakos grape is very similar to Cabernet Franc and perfect for chilling with fish or meat; Agiorgitiko - is the equivalent of Pinot Noir.
4. Do you have a favourite grape variety or region?
I am myself drawn to Cabernet Franc and in moments of wild abandon the superlative Condrieu. Also it would be remiss not to mention the delicious wines at Château la Canorgue in the Côtes du Luberon. After a wonderful visit there some years ago it will always have a place in my heart. Also - as a Chevalier in the Confrèreie de Pineau des Charènte it is my bound duty to extol the virtues of this delicious aperitif wherever I travel!
5. What is the signature dish at 'Baxter Towers' and what do you serve with it?
Rabbit in Armagnac Prunes and Mustard - a French regional classic which I serve with a decent Pic Saint-Loup or Saint-Chinian.
6. Do you have any say over what wine is served at exhibition openings?
Sadly not but usually I am so distracted I don't really care until the serious business of the meal AFTER the vernissage when I rely on the gallery to placate me with something delicious.
7. You show work in the States and France. Does your palate lean more to the New or Old World?
Afraid I gravitate towards the Old World in moments of stress...
8. Does wine aid your muse or is it best saved for celebrating when a piece is completed?
I try to avoid wine when working preferring to enjoy the fruits of the vine when my work is completed.
9. If Baxter Towers was engulfed in flames would you try and save the cellar or the artwork?
Baxter Towers had a very efficient sprinkler system and independently radio controlled metal doors to avoid such an emergency.
10. Is there a style or type of wine you activiely try to avoid?
Pinot Grigio - it's an aberration.