“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”


DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)


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16 October 2017

THE MAN DELIVERED THIS


PUTTING FLESH ON THORNE-CLARKE

Forget the skinny lil birdie on the front. Surrender instead to four delicious fleshy new 'uns from Thorne-Clarke's fresh winemaker Pete Kelly. These wines didn't fly in from Siberia:

Thorne-Clarke Sandpiper Eden Valley Pinot Gris 2017  
($20; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap)

Long of the belief that you can't grow good Pinot gris anywhere that won't grow good Pinot noir, I hit the dogma wall at this wine. Like you wouldn't expect to grow the world's best Pinot noir in the Eden Valley, but then unless we knew the lesson of colonial history, you'd never think the Riesling grape of cold Germany would grow well there, either. Which of course it does. 

It's as unlikely as Riesling working brilliantly in the Clare valleys, until you appreciate that parts of Clare, like the Polish Valley side of the range, is very similar geologically and sunshine-wise to parts of Alsace, where Riesling and Gris make serious mojo magic. 

This lovely slurpable has a topnote that smells like Craneford when they're baling hay. Below that fascinator there's all sorts of fruit from lollypop-simple dessert salads with meringue, banana and pineapple, to honeydew and strawberry. There's also lots of lollyshop bubblegum and frivolous whatnots that make it somehow childish simple, which it's not. 

Not at all. 

Rather, it's just downright disarming in its bare-faced charm. That bit grabs me so convincingly I don't even bother delving into the refined complexities lying beneath the rosy freckles. In keeping with simple impulses, I wanna run off with this bottle now. To the Stanley's fish café of a decade back for battered flathead and chips with fresh-sliced chilli and lotsa salt. You comin' with? 

Of this new quartet blanc, this was the first I opened. I proceeded, half-imagining it was a fluke. Nope. This fab four is is the best white release yet from Thorne-Clarke. By a long shot. 

Thorne-Clarke  Sandpiper Eden Valley Chardonnay 2017 
($20;  12% alcohol; screw cap) 

$20 Chardonnay is something I normally approach like bat goozie, so I was even more delighted to find this clean, clear spring-and-summer waft of a thing knocking that prejudice out of the ring. 

It's obviously been made to a price, but with a great deal more intelligence and sensitivity than most Chardonnaise show. 

It has a grainy, almost chalky aromatic edge in the same hayfield as the gris. Firm white peach, sapodilla and comice pear are the first fruits to come to mind, with none overwhelming. It's a smooth, clean, honest perfume with just a fleeting insinuation of French oak and fetta, and, dammit, enoki. 

But we're here to drink, not talk, surely? 

Same deal: down-the-line fresh-faced honesty with a stack of immediate appeal, but plenty hidden in there for the fancy gang and nerds to discuss. Just get on with it, I say. 

With pont-l'Évêque and/or port salut and some fresh-sliced pear. Like comice. Get on with it. 

Thorne-Clarke Sandpiper Eden Valley Riesling 2017 
($20; 11% alcohol; screw cap) 

I was about to go on about Dr Loosen's Riesling in Mosel vs. Pfalz vs. Alsace et cetera, et al, but get over it, Whitey. And forget all that stuff about lemon and lime and citrus blossom. In keeping with the form of the pair above, this is like the powdered cheeks of infant vegan winged archers who've just falled off the Sistine Chapel ceiling. 

Cherub's cheeks grilled lightly in butter with lemon and pepper. I can think of no better introduction to Riesling. Swoon. It has the flesh to handle the sort of brutal chill too many restaurant fridges deliver, but it's best just slightly on the chill side of cool. Which is precisely what it is. Also: Deadly. 

Eden Trail Eden Valley Riesling 2017 
($24; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap) 

Tell me another premium white wine producer whose elite superwine is one whole $4 more expensive than its standard version? And we're still an entire buck short of $25? Get down. Only slightly less chubby than those rosy cheeks, this is that previous wine cranked in the finest, most tasteful and intelligent direction. It has less flesh, more bone. Its spine, for example, is not quite brittle, but approaches ground-up bone china in its dry, fine-grained authority. The sinews and pink muscles around that bit will hide it if you're not in the mood to think too hard. Grilled squid with lemon, please. And would you mind if I left my clothes here on the chair? I need to go out and lie in the sun.

13 October 2017

THEIR GEORGE BY OUR GEORGE

Spare a thought for poor Cardinal Pell now that Barolo's suddenly so far away ... what must the poor man endure simply performing pastoral duties ... thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers ... and a solution, by George


12 October 2017

GUM CONTROL BY GEORGE

"Koalas armed in eucalypt highrise" was the message accompanying this notebook 
sketch George Grainger Aldridge e-mailed from his phone this morning.

11 October 2017

LANGHORNE CREEK MUD WRESTLING

Should the Murray estuary wine folk have a bit of a think about Bordeaux?
by PHILIP WHITE

Two of the things I learned living in the Bremer Valley as a kid in the 'sixties have stuck with me all my life. Both came in the summer's dusty blast: that rain shadow country where the hills meet the Mallee around Kanmantoo can be brutally hot. Which led me appreciate the value of an estuarine influence: escaping from the sweaty little school bus was even more worthwhile when cool late afternoon sou-easterlies came all the way from the Southern Ocean across the Coorong and Lake Alexandrina to the alluvial plains round Woodchester, Salem and Callington, eventually to relieve Kanmantoo. 

That was Lesson # 1: estuaries are precious.

The second big learn concerned land clearance. 

As the miners of the 1800s had cleared all the trees and scrub around Callington and Kanmantoo to fire the copper smelters the land was bare and troubled. 

The largest local landowners, Charles Burney Young and his son Harry Dove Young ... like imagine that shit ... "oh no this is our land now" ... grew unirrigated bush vines in the local alluviums, eventually to have original owners sending their kids to pick grapes. 

Just by chance the lives of two very heavy dudes overlapped there in the Kanmantoo St George Winery. The Ngarrindjeri genius, David Unaipon, worked there, as did the Burgundian Edmund Mazure, who was developing his recipe for what became Auldana St Henri Claret and eventually Penfolds St. Henri. Mazure named it after his son, Henri. In that barren dust-or-mud backwater, he also made a world champion red there: Kanmantoo St George Claret won top gold at the Paris Exhibition of 1889.Because they were old vines perishing of die-back, Nora Young pulled them out between the Wars.

Summer thunderstorms in the hills to the north of Kanmantoo would dump an inch of rain in just an hour or so. As there was no vegetation to hold it, that water would simply skim off the hillsides to flash-flood our house and wash cars off the main street into the Big Erosion that joined the Bremer four miles downstream at Callington. 

People died. 

(Matthew Abraham, David Bevan and Nick Xenophon may care to learn that while these storms always caused lengthy power blackouts, nobody blamed the local windmills.) 

I don't recall any of the car wrecks being found beyond Callington but the water would rip through there and off to Langhorne Creek. There the vignerons would catch it with levees and deliberately flood their vineyards, grabbing some last-minute deep soil moisture before the flood was eventually let escape into the Lake and down over the barrages through the Murray Mouth into the Southern Ocean. 

Opening a floodgate at Bleasedale ... note windmill to pump aquifer water

There is no creek called Langhorne. The locals don't even call the joint that: their patois usually pronounces it Larncrk. If you wrote it out there was a bridge called Langhorne after a bloke of that name, but it crossed the Bremer. Unless there was a flood, when the bridge became an island near the other one with the pub on it. 

The Old Man would stack us six kids in the car when the vineyards were flooded and we'd drive down there and rubberneck at the water that had filled our house with sheepshit and mud a few days earlier. As the Kanmantoo Vineyards had long gone, these were the first vineyards I can recall. We were taught they made the Devil's Brew and this was his country. 

The Devil was a fairly impressive character to the young White: Potts' Bleasedale winery was probably the biggest building in the district. I quickly figured that's where that sheep-shitty water got turned into wine: Jesus had nothing on it. 

When I went to work for him full-time in the early 'seventies, Mr. D taught me the flavours of the Larncrk wines through those muddy, soulful Bleasedale wonders. I eventually discovered these were made, by default, by time, procrastination and family disagreement more than intent or your actual œnological recipe.

(NOTE: Since a shorter version of this was published on InDaily several people have told me I have been unfair to Bleasedale. This is not my intention. I have had delicious dry white Verdelho from that establishment, soulful rustic reds of various breeds, and of course the very old fortified Verdelho is one of the rarest, most exquisite treasures of Australian fortified wine history) 

A young German reffo bloke with a Volksy beetle was also discovering these old vineyards. His name was Wolf Blass. He had a recipe. Soon I was drinking his take on the district: much more polished, impressive and memorable than the traditional Potts' family styles. While I didn't realise then, they were absolutely corseted with the sap of new Quercus alba - American oak - barrels from the Barossa cooper, A. P. John. Sophisticated.

As the mantra of Wolfie's shotgun riding/blending/winemaking offsider, John "The Ferret" Glaetzer went, "No wood, no good; no medals, no jobs." He knew that brash oak seduced wine judges. Those two had watched what Penfolds did with Grange and new American oak. But they needed that special Larncrk fruit.  Soft intensity, with a little more airborne mudflat eucalyptol in the Cabernet.

Although irrigation from the aquifer was handy for commercial success when there was no flood, the vignoble's area was still limited by the flood boundary. 

As the aquifers were more or less buggered with salt from too much greedy extraction through uncontrolled irrigation bores, the government had eventually restricted this practice. This management regime had commenced under the premiership of the brilliant Don Dunstan and his similarly enlightened Minister for Mines and Energy, Hugh Hudson. I know. I worked for them, and took a display caravan around to regional agricultural shows to explain the importance of saving the aquifers.

Winemakers and grape farmers, in their gold button blazers and moleskines, thought I was a representative of the new homosexual communist regime. I remember them all too well. The same lot, and their offspring, now jealously protect their aquifers and sensibly whinge about fracking.

Along came Liberal Premier Dean Brown. When together we officially opened the Willson family's new tasting room at Bremerton, he promised to replace this underground water by permitting the installation of big new pipes to pump fresh water from the Lake. 

I use 'fresh' loosely: often the salinity of the Lake was too high for irrigating plants. 

In 1991, there were 471 hectares of vineyards there on the Lake. In 1997 that hit 2,500 hectares. While the plan was to carefully double that again by 2002, opportunists used the Brown water to stretch the vignoble to 4,317ha by 1999, making a tenfold expansion in eight short years. It's since slowed down; some vineyards perished. I reckon there's around 6,000ha now. 

The author with Wolf Blass and John Glaetzer ... photo John 'Guitar' Preece

Jealous of Wolfie's incredible wood-bound pillage of the national wine show circuit, newcomers had crowded in, planting industrial vineyards on the slightly higher sand-over-limestone country as well as the salty samphire flats. Whatever. Wherever. Nobody seemed to care about the ground. The fascist irrigated petrochem viticulture regime taught then to big squirters at the University of Adelaide was guaranteed to overcome the erratic, threatening nature of your actual terroir.  

Out towards Strathalbyn, at Belvedere, there'd been vineyards in the 1860s, but those pioneers had withered without fresh water. Now there are vineyards there, too, and all over the joint, well beyond the Langhorne Creek boundary, south through the Currency Creek flats (below), almost to Goolwa. 

Water, see? 

Somewhere I have the triumphant press release from Orlando, boasting that under its new French owner, Pernod Ricard, its new Langhorne Creek vineyard cost $30 million, used 200,000 trellis posts, 1,000 kilometres of drip line, and 50,000 kilometres of wire. That was their measure of gastronomic accomplishment. Thankyou France, thankyou Premier Brown. 

Within a few years, the vineyard was on the market. It never sold. Good work, those men. Take a bow. 

Which leads me to a slow-motion spat between the chairman of judges of the local wine show, Murdoch wine critic Nick Ryan, and his friendly Fairfax rival in Sydney, Huon Hooke. Huon had written of his amazement that in the Langhorne Creek Wine Show  Nick and his team had awarded the top golds to a couple of $12 'Classic' Jacob's Creek reds; one also took a trophy.

Nick responded last week with a surly piece on Wine Business Monthly's WBM Online

"I don’t question the awards on the grounds that they are cheap wines," Huon originally wrote on his Real Review blog. "I question the awards because of the way they taste. They’re no more than bronze-medal wines, in my opinion. 

"They are simple, fruit-driven wines with sappy tannins – the latter pointing to less than perfectly ripened grapes. I don’t know what vineyards the grapes came from, but my experience leads me to suspect they came from heavily cropped (high yielding) vines. Such vines often give rise to red wines with underripe tannins, especially in the Cabernet family of grape varieties. And that is how they both taste to me." 

I was honoured to chair the first Currency Creek Wine Show at the Signal Point Gallery at Goolwa in 2012. Here are fellow judges Nick Ryan (left) with Patricia Piccinini's Big Mama, her suckling, and Zar Brooks ... in my speech at the awards lunch I repeated a lot of what I've written here. There was never another Currency Creek show. That was my last wine show. Sounds like a movie ... The Last Wine Show ... photo Philip White ... below: of course it was all very professional and respectful when Ryan and Hooke sat diagonally opposite each other at the Grange tasting ... might be a millennial beard thing

Langhorne Creek, Currency Creek - all those lakeside estuarine flats where the Murray River system meets the sea, are to me the closest South Australia gets to Bordeaux. Sure, it's a little warmer and there's more sunshine, but the feeling of that special  place there on Lake Alexandrina, its alluvial geology, its marine smell, with those cool winds coming off the Southern Ocean, remind me of Bordeaux on its estuary where the Garonne River hits the Atlantic.

I wonder whether Pernod Ricard, having changed Orlando's name to another river-sized creek, this time called Jacob, has ever thought of this? Has the chairman of judges? Do any of the Larncrk locals? Have they considered less water, lower yields, and proper French oak? 

Langhorne Creek, of course, has no nuclear reactor proud on its low embankment like the Garonne. But on the southside of the Garonne I've seen riverine alluviums mirroring bits of the big slow deltas on that east side of the South Mount Lofty Ranges, from Harrogate right down through our house to the Lake.  

Last figures I saw, from the Winemakers Federation of Australia paper, 2015 Production profitability analysis, 77% of the fruit grown in Langhorne Creek sold at a loss. 

The wine show is the least of the region's troubles. But it reflects them well. Ask a kid from Kanmantoo.

Me and Mum with three others of her six, on Mount Barker summit, overlooking the rainshadow country of the Bremer Valley and the Mallee ... if the Old Man had turned the Voigtlander a few degrees to the right, to the sou-east, we'd see Lake Alexandrina ... by the time he'd done a gentle pan back round to west, I was gone mining


06 October 2017

RAISING THE GRENACHE BAR

Tasting the landlord's new wine
by PHILIP WHITE

While it seemed time to let somebody else have a go at it, I laid off reviewing my landlord's wines for awhile. But Peter Fraser's new release Grenache babies have shivered me timbers and rattled the sensory roofbeams sufficiently to set my knuckles cracking for the word piano. 

It seems like only yesterday I sat on the deck with Milton Wordley and some other very famous photographers he'd brought, toying with the new Yangarra Rosé 2011. 

As a colourblind person, I find the hues of rosé both challenging and delightful: rather than use the usual names, like pink, orange or red, it's safer for me to take a stab at metaphor and simile, so I've usually said they're the colour of raspberry, strawberry, onion skin, pheasant eye or whatnot, leaving the Pantone details to the more reliably sighted. 

On that day of the great snappers it was cool to hear eight much more competent and highly-trained eyes than mine discuss the glints in those glasses.


Yangarra Grenache 2011 ... photo by David Burnett ... other snaps by Philip White

Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre from baby bush vines were picked together at just under 11 Beaumé and the full bunches left intact in sealed cabmac bags for a week to make that wine, so the ferment was well underway within each berry and the juice had extracted quite some colour during that initial stage of ferment even before pressing. David Burnett's photograph makes me take a stab at that wine being raspberry red, but please make your own decision. It smelled vibrantly of stuff like Turkish delight, rose petals, maraschino cherries and pink grapefruit right from the press: you could smell it outside the winery. 

The new one, the Yangarra McLaren Vale Grenache Rosé 2017 ($25; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) takes the colour thing way off into much more pale territory. It took me ages to photograph its tantalising hue. 

It seems Peter's been chasing texture and perfume more than pink, although it smells pink. He allocated baby bush vines that were picked early, specifically to make this. He pressed whole bunches, as if making a white wine, and let the wild yeasts take over and kept the wine on lees for a couple of months, stirring it weekly to magnify the comforting texture. 

It smells like babies: soft and musky, with faint hints of magnolia and jasmine. It has lovely subtle spices, a hint of banana and a summery dry topnote of lucerne hay and coconut husk. 

Taste-wise, it has the uncanny ability to be many things to many people. It has the pith, rind and juice of lemon, and to a greater extent, the less edgy lime, but with reflections of all those fleshy, alluring aromas. Nectarine and white peach. 

It's very slippery drinking: dangerously easy to quaff if all you need is succour, but there's plenty of complexity lying in there to feed those who like to think and talk about their drinks. That hay and husk in the bouquet returns as tannins in the long, dry tail. 

This wine levers Grenache, Fraser's cornerstone, into a new realm. And it shows how even rosé can be a much more serious and accomplished thing than the old raspberry cordial types that are always lying about the shelves and lists, sweet, dim and simple, giving the entire genre a bad name. This ain't that. 

Yangarra Old Vine McLaren Vale Grenache 2015 ($35; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap) is another benchmark. It seems that the fastidious biodynamic vineyard husbandry, the 1946 bush vines and  the established winery mentality have all arrived together to give a more complex and accomplished Grenache than before. Which is saying something. 

The vines were hand-picked and the bunches destemmed; then the grapes were sorted mechanically to remove all the raisins and squishy bits, leaving berries that look like caviar. Half of these were crushed, then their must wild fermented with the intact berries after a week of cold soaking. Thence into barrel for 8 months on lees, before blending and bottling without filtration or fining. 

The result has more spice than its predecessors. Mace and nutmeg brood away in there, sultry and moody with the fig, date and charcuterie aromas. Forget the polished silky sheen too many of us once expected of fine Grenache: here the firm natural acidity and the rich, velvety tannins all sit with easy poise, giving us nerds plenty to talk and write about, while offering the thirsty a wonderful, wholesome, adult slurp. Try it with crumbly cheese, complementary dates and figs and charcuterie meats.

PENFOLDS GRANGE 2013: FIRST TASTE

Classic 389, traditional St. Henri, huge RWT, elegant Mitsouko Grange
by PHILIP WHITE


It's like being in the engine room of some bloody great ship, sitting in the old stillroom at Penfolds Magill. The powerhouse of a towering palace, at least. 

But there a few of us sat last week, leering at a table laden with the cream of Australian premium wine. Peter Gago AC kept our snifters trim. 

Here, following are my initial favourites from a very impressive release from the world's biggest boutique winery, which is what the best end of Penfolds has always been. And I pay passing homage to a couple of significant majesties that'll be very popular but just ain't my style: 

First, there are four exemplary white wines. The Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2017 ($30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) is more like actual glass than say chalk or slate. Sure, it does have some granular action in the tail but it's closer to the pith of some tiny limes I recall from Dum InMirree, a flat slice of mud and lush jungle with crocs on the side off Dundee Downs on the Timor Sea. Sorta takes your mind off lime pith, eh? 

But go back there and think of cool lime juice and its thickish texture and gingery chilli broth and perfect glassy clarity and you have something like this or go all Issye Miyake and Hendrick's Gin with cucumber. 

Near the top, there are three Chardonnays. The Bin 311 Tumbarumba 2016 ($45: 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) is one for wusses. It seems full of isovaleric acid and cheesy tropical umami: soothing, brow-stroking notions of motherly pulchritude. It's the one for avocado lips. Millions will love it.

In the belly of the beast: tasting in the old still house at Penfolds Magill Estate: Milton Wordley, Nick Ryan, Anthony Madigan, Peter Gago, Huon Hooke, the author and Emma Franklin

Yattarna Chardonnay 2015 ($150; 13% alcohol; screw cap) is the huge cushy limousine. There are no bumps. This is royal lavishment: poached peaches and crème brûlée. Gago says there are oatcakes. I reckon it's more like buttery shortbread down beneath the plumpedness. Somewhere in there. Serious king-hell luxe, mon. Town car. This be the squish. 

Like other recent years, the Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 ($125; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap) is marching off into barren stony ground in its style, far away from the cushion of the Tumbaramba or Yattarna. Its most immediate fruit starts out somewhere tight like grapefruit or even more like the pink grapefruit or the artery juice of the blood orange without so many red corpuscles. Then it marches off into the wilderness, driven, aloof. It's stunning wine. 

Now for austere; a decade later for slightly older austerely scrumptious. 

You prefer curvy? Go Tumbarumba or Yattarna. 

While we're on angular wine, the Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($500: 14.5% alcohol; cork) has been cornered in brand new American oak hogsheads for twenty months. While I'm sure this wine is dead true to its heritage and tradition and made from the fastest tightest deepest vineyard selections from Coonawarra, Barossa, McLaren Vale and Padthaway, I have never been capable of loving Quercus alba wood of this concentration. Never been a lover of such ramrod stiff right wing stuff. This wine is angular, man. It'll make the wheelwrights and lumberjacks purr from right across the yard. It's a record-breaking 707 for promise and accuracy: if you like 'em you'll love it. But it just ain't me. 

On the other hand, the Bin 407 South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($95; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap) has confectioner's sugars and musk all over its crystallised violets, meadow blooms and hedgerow. I felt it was from chalk and turns out to be primarily from Wrattonbully, Coonawarra and Limestone Coast chalks before they gave it admixtures of McLaren Vale and Barossa. This has some supple form and some sensuality and some older barrels (in with 25% new French ones) set it afloating and playing about without getting bargey. It's spritely and perfumed. 

My romantic pick of the Cabernets this year isn't even that. It's the blend our earliest white forebears brought from Bordeaux, in the days when those  Aquitaine reds often contained a sploosh of reinforcing Hermitage. The Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2015 ($95; 14.5%; screw cap) is a beauty. It's had only Quercus alba, but equally spread over new, one and two year-old barrels. So it has plenty of that classic old-fashioned Penfolds shellack in with the snakes draped panting in the blackberry vines and the hillbillies burning offcuts to boil their still out the back. A bastion of the great Penfolds castle, and a very good example. This wine is a piece of serious regional pride. Very posh but never fancy, the 389. 

From which we make a neat sideways step to wine of a style we once called claret, as in fine and tending to austere: St Henri Shiraz 2014 ($125; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap). Almost so shy and refined as to avert its eyes, this is a relic recipe followed to the T. It almost has tea leaves rustling in its bouquet, but that's pink everlasting flowers and lavendar floating on a genteel syrup of prune and currant, chicory, fig and juniper, all perfectly harmonised and settled after a year in bloody huge fifty-plus years-old oak vats. Damn thing glows. 

With respect to the great Edmund Mazure, this one's really after the old style. Prim and proper, but practising sensuality. 

Much more boisterous and bumptious is the RWT Bin 798 Barossa Shiraz 2015 ($200; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap). All French oak, 83% new, this is like interrupting somebody like the king in the royal vestry. They've not cut short the oak polish budget but they know if you can smell it you shoulda saved that money for starch and ironed it into the raiment cuffs and the ruff collars and the doilies. 

But that recent touch of dusting cloth and polish is rich and hangs about the sense of somebody very big and so damn royal that you daren't even look up. That's Barossa Shiraz. 

This is a mighty wine, but that authority is still so noble as to show the sort of soulful motherliness Max loved. So it's not really so bumptious as we expected. It's gruff, but it'll take your hand. 

Which brings us to the Grange Bin 95 2013 ($850; 14.5% alcohol; cork). Goodness me. 

Peter poured this with a 2012, which reassured my initial notion that this is a more supple and sensual wine that that. 'Twelve was indeed mighty; a bit lurchy yet. This is a fitter, more svelte prince. The black armour lacquer smells like a waxed Japanese screen. Soy. Big thundery summer ozone raindrops in the dust outside; in here a vase of marshmallow, elder and hawthorn. Sense of humour: there's a crown hanging in the damn hawthorn. It - no he - has dashed through to dining where there's prunes soaked and smudgy plum and struesel fresh yeast kuchen blackberries and mulberries. Linen in the press. 

Drink: incredibly fine and silky; precisely sensual; yearningly slender and languid; many single-line poems on reflection. There's a trunk of copperplate lists and dust from the verge of the austral zones ... those big raindrops ... This is a more serene, reflective Grange than usual. It's the Guerlain Mitsouko Grange. Perfection. 

I didn't mention money, did I? Damn!

photos by Philip White