“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)


.

.

.

.

04 November 2009

APPELLATION SOUTH AUSTRALIA: NUTS

CARTO GRAPHICS' CLEVER NEW TOPOGRAPHIC MAP FOR BAROSSA GRAPE AND WINE AS SEEN BY THE FIGHTER PILOT ... THE ALTITUDES HERE, HOWEVER, ARE EXAGGERATED FOR EFFECT. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Mount Lofty Ranges Regions
Wrong Borders, Wrong Names?
Who's In Charge Of Change?

by PHILIP WHITE - this story originally appeared in THE INDEPENDENT WEEKLY

The Barossa Grape and Wine Association has just released a clever, handsome and revealing topographical map of the viticulture zone called Barossa. This transverse slice of the South Mount Lofty Ranges was delineated by the local vignerons and the Geographical Indications Committee, a subsidiary of the Australian Wine And Brandy Corporation, the Government statutory authority which polices wine law.

The map was made by Carto Graphics. As it was completed, I coincidentally noticed an increase in wineries using Mount Lofty Ranges as their location. The official wine appellation doesn’t suit them.

There are two reasonably distinct ranges that run from the tip of the Fleurieu to Peterborough; South Mount Lofty Ranges from Cape Jervis to around Eudunda; North Mount Lofty Ranges further to the west, running through Clare and Burra to fizzle out in the desert around Peterborough. North and west of them run the Flinders: Southern, then Northern. These names are official topographical names for standard maps, so they can be easily located by people all over the world.

Not so for our official wine appellation boundaries. These are, well, different. There’s a huge slab of country called The Adelaide Superzone, which includes the Barossa, Fleurieu and Mount Lofty Ranges Zones. The latter Zone contains the Adelaide Hills, the Adelaide Plains and the Clare Valley Regions. The Adelaide Hills Region contains the delineated Sub-regions of Lenswood and Piccadilly Valley, as well as other land that extends north to where the appellation abruptly and illogically becomes the Eden Valley Region in the Barossa Zone, as distinct from the Barossa Valley Region to the west.

Like the Barossa Zone, the Adelaide Hills are not on any ordinary map. This is a colloquial and nebulous term for some of the hills in the South Mount Lofty Ranges. Kuitpo, Mount Barker, and Hahndorf are in the Adelaide Hills Region, Harrogate and Kanmantoo are not. Dumb.

What a pity these boundaries were not set on existing place names, or more easily determined geographical and geological features that were on maps for a century before Australian wine appellations were invented! I initially suggested that the Adelaide Superzone was so named because everyone in the wine world was presumed to know of the whereabouts of Adelaide University, which is smug about its wine course. GIC members have since scorned this idea. Because Adelaide proper is not in any hills or ranges, the South Mount Lofty Ranges Superzone would have had more natural clarity, as Adelaide is on their floodplain and piedmont.

Then, the North Mount Lofty Ranges would make more sense as a Zone, as does the Southern Flinders Region, which I had the pleasure to officially open some years back. There’s not much call for a Northern Flinders Region yet, but this may become necessary if those who insist the Earth is cooling prove correct.

When you examine the fine new Barossa map, it becomes very clear that the Barossa is a distinct valley that runs north-south between the Barossa Ranges on the eastern side, and the ridge that runs from Kalimna in the north, south through Greenock to Gomersal on the western side. The enormous, monocultural tax-dodge vineyards recently planted outside the Valley on the western flats around Sandy Creek have nothing to do with the Barossa or its flavours. This should be Adelaide Plains. Similarly, the upland vineyards in the chaotic network of ranges and valleys to the east of the Barossa Range have nothing in common with the Barossa, other than that Valley’s propensity to use their finer fruit to improve its own, which they can still do without losing the precious Barossa moniker. The dodgy intellect of this is revealed by the new map. They made their Barossa far too big. Dumb.

THE HILL OF GRACE VINEYARD, MUCH IMPROVED BY PRUE HENSCHKE SINCE MILTON WORDLEY TOOK THIS PHOTOGRAPH. IS THIS IN THE BAROSSA VALLEY?

The South Mount Lofty Ranges are a continuous geological feature that extends to Cape Jervis, and yet the Southern Fleurieu is not included in the Mount Lofty Ranges Zone, while Clare is. Dumb.

The McLaren Vale Region is part of the Fleurieu Zone. It sensibly drew most of its boundary according to its geology and topography, following the escarpment formed by the Willunga fault line from the Victory pub to Kangarilla. The western boundary is sensibly the sea. Part of the reason this region stretches north across the Onkaparinga to include Glenthorne Farm and Chateau Reynella is to protect them from housing development. Which will look really dumb if governments and owners continue with their nefarious villa rash. Which the intellectually decrepit Rann government has just permitted to occur in letting Constellation Brands rip out John Reynell's heritage vineyard which had been in full premium wine production for 161 years. Forty-one tiny apartments will replace it. The winemakers of McLaren Vale can take a deep bow for permitting this to happen. And Onkaparinga Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg, who will eventually fall on her own fork. Show Lorraine a hill, and she'll immediately want somebody to put a shed on it.

In the meantime, there's an unholy row brewing between Jane "Spock" Lomax-Smith, the Minister for Tourism, and the McLaren Vale Grape Wine And Tourism Association over the naming of the Fleurieu, the Peninsula which McLaren Vale sits upon. The McLVGWATA should not really be claiming any holier-than-thou rights to naming intelligence until it cleans that idiotic acronym up. But the winesmiths of the Vales want the Fleurieu name officially changed to Fleurieu and McLaren Vale, which J-Lo the Vulcan will not abide.

Consider Doug Govan of The Victory Hotel. His two tiny Rudderless Vineyards behind his mighty pub sit astride the boundary separating McLaren Vale from Southern Fleurieu. This line should logically follow the creek, flowing just south of his pub down through Cactus Gulch to the Gulf. Instead, the appellation line actually divides one of his three tiny Lots, as delineated on the Hundred and Section maps determining ownership.

Doug’s dog Swahili could have worked that one out.

Just as we constantly adjust electoral boundaries to suit demographic changes, and rename electorates, surely we can begin correcting some of this really stupid mess.

VICTORY HOTEL PUBLICAN, DOUG GOVAN, TOOK THIS PHOTOGRAPH OF HIS BELOVED SWAHILI, WHO IS CONSIDERING THE BOUNDARY OF McLAREN VALE AND FLEURIEU. SWAHILI IS IN McLAREN VALE. THE COOPERS SIGN IS IN SOUTHERN FLEURIEU.

1 comment:

Zar said...

Mr White. At last, an accurate explanation of the state of play. A must to be copied and pasted and attributed.
And even a smile after 'The western boundary is sensibly the sea.'