"I don't know how John Gilbert expects to sell this!" Adelaide Hills ... no country for old men
by PHILIP WHITE
John Gilbert makes By Jingo wines from selected vineyards in the South Mount Lofty Ranges, the Murray-Darling Basin and his beautiful little home patch in the hills south of Mount Barker. While his tinctures are always a personal favourite of this writer, I'd never really sat down and had a proper listen to the man. Like discuss work. His zany labels. His wild selection of varieties, most of which he learned about whilst winemaking in the islands of the Mediterranean. So yesterday I called in, sat there amongst his sculptures and artworks and turned the recorder on. Here's the unexpurgated transcript of our chat, which took one bottle of his lovely Grüner Veltliner:
By Jingo Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner 2014 (13% alcohol; screw cap; $30):
Unlike those who make brilliant Grüner after the Riesling style, using only cool stainless steel vessels, John has given this one a year's rest in old French oak and then a year in bottle. Guess what? It's brilliant, too - the opposite end of the spectrum to the beauties made at Hahndorf Hill, the pioneer of this variety in Australia. The maturation has seen the fruit unfold and get fractal, with a concentration of certain fairly precise flavours I can't recall seeing in any other white variety.
Its topnote is acrid enough to tickle the nostrils like the aroma of an old hemp superphosphate sack, but that appetising confrontation soon subsides into a wave of dried citrus rind, or zest. To drink, it's like an adults-only super-dry lime and ginger marmalade, long and teasing ... with a granular tannic finish that brings back the memory of that hemp you smelled at the other end of this long green line.
Then after another goodly schlück, it reminds me of Nimbu Ka Achaar, the hot'n'spicy Indian lime pickle. All that citric savour, and trimming natural acid makes it clean and zippy enough to handle the fattier seafoods, like scallops and prawns, especially served with Nimbu Ka Achaar.
It's adventurous, inspiring and pure, By Jingo!