“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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25 March 2014

DOLCE ROSSO RED LAMBRUSCO



Stanley Wines Dolce Rosso Red Lambrusco 
$11.99 for 4l; 10.5% alcohol; silver plastic bag with rubber tap; 10

The artwork and packaging department installs me with confidence. As a writer I'm really interested in the words. It's almost square, like a brick with chamfered edges on the longer sides, giving it that posh feel in the hands, like a real big pack of Davidoffs, or a $1000 perfume pack from the Madelaine. Posh stuff aside, turns out it's not like a brick by accident. In the later 'sixties, when the brilliant winemaker Ian Hickinbotham, who at Max Schubert's invitation was then Penfolds' sales manager in Victoria, was working on the first modern bladder packs, principally to increase the sales of Grange in Melbourne, he designed it like a brick. "I recall using an Otis King round ruler," he recalled in his autobiography Australian Plonky, "to calculate the measurements of a small carton to contain the bag so that the height was twice width, which was one-and-a-half times depth - the same as a household brick." See? Style change! You can tell I got that out of a book! Hah! Anyway, because of my height, it's easiest for me to start reading at the top. 'Stanley WINES,' it says. 'EST BEFORE AUG 09 315 21:12.' At first I felt it was unusual for winery historians to be so specific about the actual time of their establishment but then I realised there was quite a lot of time already passed by twelve past nine on the night of the 9th August whichever year they chose. Some of that critical text has managed to slip off the little matte rectangle where it was supposed to go, so I can only presume the bit that says 'Fine drinking now, but will cellar well for ten to fifteen years' was part of the stuff that missed its patch. Which patch, just incidentally, seems made from that rubbery stuff on scratchy scratchy gambling tickets. 

That's always promising. Rub off to get rich.


Then, on the bit that looks like a legal seal, it says this: 'DOLCE ROSSO Established in 1893 The Stanley Wine Company has always prided itself on the quality and reliability of its products. This philosophy has been instrumental in the Stanley cask becoming an Australian icon. STANLEY WINE COMPANY,' which at least cleared up the date of establishment, although the term 'cask' had a different sort of a meaning in the 1890s. Then, you know, the fact is that it was actually November 1894 that Christison, Knappstein, Badger and Wein-Smith bought the old jam factory in Clare and began cleaning the joint. Maybe I'm wrong but the great historian George Bell thinks it was 1894 and so does Sir James Halliday. The local paper, The Northern Argus, reported the news on 29 March 1895 that they actually opened the doors for wine grapes that vintage, by which time Basedow had also bought in, having just returned from studying viticulture at Montpelier, and working vintage in Germany, Spain and Portugal. Then it says 'Stanley WINES NEW NAME SAME WINE,' with a little image of a Standard 220ml ISO XL-5 Wine Taster Glass, which is so small it seems certain to have been invented by some international committee of people who were really scared of wine in the early 'seventies. I use these for brine eyewash. They're just the right size for my bloodied  blue headlights. Then it says 'DOLCE ROSSO RED LAMBRUSCO A vibrant red wine, soft and fruity. Enjoy this mellow wine with pasta, veal, lamb, beef, continental foods and cheeses. SERVE CHILLED 4 LITRES.' That's a lot of imfo, but I can sorta handle it. 

Just to be thorough, let's have a read of the end. Near the squirter, there's like a private letter to me. It says 'Notice something different about your Stanley Cask? That's right, the name has changed. As part of the EU agreement on wine terms, Red Lambrusco can only be used to describe wine true to its varietal origin. For this reason, the Australian wine industry has adopted the name Dolce Rosso. So rest assured that while the name has changed, it's still the same great wine. Stanley WINES.' Noting the correct use of apostrophe's, I felt real confident about reading the other end. Down here it says STANLEY WINE COMPANY Stanley WINES NEW NAME SAME WINE DOLCE ROSSO RED LAMBRUSCO Stanley takes pride in producing wines of consistent quality.  If you are not totally satisfied with this wine please ring Quality Assurance 1800 088 711. Nothing's as sure as Stanley.' If you ring, you'll probably get Angela, who seems real helpful in a kind, motherly sort of way, but I only got her answering thing. I'll bet she was talking to Stanley. Then there's a proper official-looking bit that goes 'THE STANLEY WINE COMPANY PTY LTD SILVER CITY HIGHWAY, BURONGA, NSW 2739 THIS WINE WAS MADE USING FINING AGENTS WHICH CONTAIN EGG, MILK, AND/OR FISH PRODUCTS TRACES MAY REMAIN. PRESERVATIVE (220) ADDED 10.5% ALC/VOL PRODUCT OF AUSTRALIA (75%) AND SOUTH AFRICA (25%)' So there you go. A great example of how Australia is more honest at packaging than those friggin Froggies. Anyway, let's taste it. Ready? Okay. It seems just a bit fizzy on appearance, like frizzante. But it settles down. It's also a bit cloudy, like a natural wine. Hermann my butler tells me it's brown, advice which I must take, being a colourblind person, expecting he means that its' an orange wine. Mr Stanley was probly too far ahead of his time to tell us he made it in an amphora back in the days when I cellared it. Okay then, lets pour one. To be fair to them, I use the Riedel Dolce Rosso Red Lambrusco Sommelier snifter ($128 ea) for wines of this calibre. I have a couple of those 220ml ISO XL-5 Wine Taster glasses (presented free in the Adelaide Hills, see photo), but when I do the numbers, it says on the squirter there's 33 standard drinks in there and 33x220ml makes 7.26l not four so I prefer the Riedel Dolce Rosso Red Lambrusco Sommeliers because they don't even have a Plimsoll line showing me how much I'm allowed to have in each one of them. I reckon that's what they call rambiguity.


The bouquet reminds me of a cross between my Granny's hot water bottle (British Standards BS 1970 and BS 1970:2012 8 updated version) and the Infinit New Sensations vibrator Hermann left on the parcel shelf in the sun in the back of the Mazzer last time we got bogged at Cactus and when we got back it reminded me of the hot water bottle from my first marriage. Which is romantic, really. The other thing it reminds me of is polyvinyl chloride. I won't believe the nonsense the greenies spread about PVC giving you liver cancer, so forget that. The headache I'm getting is obviously from the Metallica the Irish wolfhound's got in his headphones. Loves Metallica. Maybe a bit of wolfhound smell, too? Then, it does actually have that lovely smell of a brand new car when you've left her in the sun for a few hours in January and then get in her. And then it reminded me of something else, which took me a while to recall. Turned out to be the saffron-coloured raven oil from W. J. Brady & Sons of 103 Flood Street, Leichhardt, New South Wales 2049, which is in the same state as Buronga. Okay let's taste it. It tastes a bit like the half full 1.5l bottle of Coke Hermann left in the sand behind the Mazzer when we had to desert her and pull out in the chopper and when we got back a week or so later it tasted all different. It was the summer. The bloke with the rastas Hermann gave the other coke to stuck around to keep an eye on the Mazzer so long as his wife and kids could sleep in it and we came back with more coke. All cool. Anyway, I agree with Hungry Dan's suggested food to have with this wine and remember to pop it in the fridge. Dan says 'A vibrant red wine, soft and fruity. Enjoy this mellow wine with pasta, veal, lamb, beef, continental foods and cheeses. Serve chilled,' which is so cool because that's just what Mr Stanley said. To chill with Kyles's new Mazzer ad with Roman Coppola, click here. Like it fits the whole plastic nature of like everything ... all the cooler when you realise that Roman's Dad's a winemaker! Sheesh!

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4 comments:

Ian Hickman said...

Remember, you asked for this readers...

Brilliant stuff Whitey!

Bob said...

While I am a huge fan of the Stanley Brothers I think you should have referenced this Stanley:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4HZcUGPr3A

Bob said...

While I am a great fan of the Stanley Brothers, I feel you should have referenced this Stanley:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4HZcUGPr3A

Philip White said...

I apologise Bob. We never had - I've still never had - a television, so I missed this perfect Stanley. I find his dimple rather fetching.