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Anelia Pavlova's
Queen of Clubs

by Peter May

A  nelia Pavlova's artwork is much in demand by Australian wineries. You may have seen her distinctive pictures on labels from Brangayne, Canonbah Bridge and Setanta Wines.

    However her label for Peter Lehmann's Semillon gained the most attention. There her Mondigliani like 'Queen of Clubs' looks quizzically at a tall thin wineglass held above her bare breasts.

Uncensored Queen

    Anelia told me "I wanted to express the taste of the Semillon and to capture its colour. Frankly, I did not expect the label to cause any controversy - it was just art. The winery liked the label as did the Australian public."

    But exposed nipples were considered enough to get the wine banned in North America. The puritanical BATF - Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms - has to approve all wine labels. Their prohibition of 'representations or depictions which are obscene or indecent' have previously ruled out any nudity, including Chateau Mouton Rothschild's 1993 vintage with its reclining nude pencil sketch by Balthus.

    So the winery went back to Anelia and asked her to cover the Queens chest. " I was more amused than anything else," said Anelia. "They did not press me at all, they understood quite well that this is a bit unusual."

    The picture is a print, Anelia says " I drew the face with a needle on a zinc plate. I have worked many years in intaglio printmaking and have developed a technique similar to the a la poupee method. The name comes from the French word for "doll" as the Old French Masters were using a tool resembling a doll (just a bunch of fabric in leather) to apply the ink on the printing plate. So I had to add the new clothing on the plate and print it again. Now Peter Lehmann Wines now have two prints - one with the covered version and the original one."

Censored Queen

    And it was not just the US, UK consumers were not considered adult enough. Major UK wine store chain Oddbins said 'those level headed marketeers in Oz decided that flouting a big pair of mamas would scare off us prudish Brits.'

    Luckily wiser council later prevailed and the 2000 vintage appeared in the UK as Anelia meant. You can buy her work of art for 5.49 from Oddbins and Sainsburys. Every picture comes with a free bottle of Peter Lehmann's Semillon. It's a rather unfashionable white variety grown in Bordeaux that reaches its greatest height in Chateau d'Yquem. Peter Lehmann's wine is an enjoyably full-bodied dry wine with hints of lime that make it an ideal partner for fish and white meats.


Who is the Queen of Clubs?

She represents Damon Runyan's Miss Sarah Brown, a mission worker whose eyes 'are one hundred percent eyes in very respect.'

   Peter Lehmann read Runyon's 'The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown' from Guys and Dolls in which she threw loaded dice to win Sky Masterson's soul for the Kingdom of Heaven for two dollars. Masterson went down 100Gs on the deal. The Queen of Clubs has been his favourite card since.

   In 1998 Barossa grape growers were having difficulty selling surplus grapes from that years prolific vintage, so Peter Lehmann set up a company in partnership with them to make wine. The company was called Masterson Vignerons in recognition of the gamble they were taking. Artists were invited to interpret the Queen of Clubs on labels for the new wines, later sold under the Peter Lehmann name.

If you have been, thanks for reading.

© Copyright Peter May 2002.

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3 April 2002