“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)





16 August 2008

Domaine de la Romaney Counting

This was first published in The Independent Weekly in February 2008

“This is the first wine I ever made”, said Rod Short. “I didn’t have a crusher/destemmer, so we picked ’em, then pulled each berry off its stalk by hand and then stood on ’em”.

The wine was the Romney Park Pinot Noir 2002. The guinea fowl on the label matched the live ones cleaning the vineyard, and yellow-tailed black cockatoos skwerked and skerulled prehistorically in the pines. I was remembering the flavour of guinea fowl when Rachel Short brought me back with a snap. “Well, two women stood on them” she asserted. “We took one look at the hairs on the men’s feet and said ‘No’.”

The wine was a folly: a pinot for the shirazzabazza. Right up the Parkerilla line, all Ribena and Blackberry Nip, without edge, finesse or delicacy. I was sniffing for toenail polish when Rod said “That sold out”, and replaced it with his Romney Park Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2006 ($36), one of the few trophy winners deserving of its gong at the Adelaide Hills wine show. The peanuts in charge had served it in thimbles at that event, so now, with keener curiosity and a proper glass, I slid the proboscis in …

I was already seated so I couldn’t sit down and weep, in the company of a polite couple I’d only just met, so I could barely disrobe and dance …

The oak stonkered me first. Perfectly apt, old, seasoned French barrels had adorned the welling fruit with an edgy piquancy that reminded me of a Spanish lady I met on a train …

All that fleshy fruit: a little roll of it protruding over the edge of her polished black satin. Like the cleavages between each toe, puffing up against the edge of the low-cut flamenco shoe leather, as mysterious as baby beetroot; but as simply obvious in intention, purpose, and presentation as pomegranite and raspberry; as tight with gushing blood as a juicy black cherry ...

I licked it. Mmm. Tang of sweat, putting an edge on the savoury olive oil texture … and yes, a little kalamata amongst the cherry and baby beetroot, with a dollop of sour cream, like a borscht …

“Utterly wicked and sinful”, I was scratching, “swoooonful! 94+ points – now to 2014 – ” when the bodgie pterodactyls outside swooped me back to Hahndorf.

Which is where we sat. In a big sandstone house with a dressage grey at the bottom of the garden, pines down the sides, and a vineyard where the apples were, just there above the frost line at 370 metres, up to the vintage shed at the top, at 410 metres.

“It took ten years searching to find this place …” Rod’s voice drew me back this time. “I was the electrician at the Waite, and I’d been a total pest in the oenology department, where they all had opposing doctrines about wine … but we knew early it was all in the vineyard. So here we are … The house is too big for two of us, but the old billiard room makes a great bottling hall, and there’s so much ironstone out there that’s it’s no good dangling a magnet to pick up the nails after the farrier’s been, because you pick up half the hill …”

Romney Park is named after the Romney sheep they once counted, with a doff of the beret to Domaine de la Romanée Conti, the sacred heart of Burgundy. While Ashton Hills pinot is probably closer to the austere DRC in style, this red is more like Smitty’s devine Domaine de l’Arlot: more amiable and fleshy from the start, with one less zero at the end of the price.

But Romney Park is no one trick pony. I was first nailed by the disgorged-to-order 2004 Blanc de Blancs ($28; 93+), which I reckon’s in the Kreglinger/Arras/Clover Hill/Yarra Bank league, and given its junior status and kindergarten price, scarily close to the Gosset/Krug school.

Then there’s the little matter of the Reserve Chardonnay 2006. They shoulda called it Chevalier-Montrachel, for there’s more than a little Chevalier-Montrachet about this svelte blonde beauty, with its waft of pineapple cream and dried banana, gradually falling to that amazing swarfy acidity that I presume comes from the ironstone. (The same mighty, almost fierce natural acidity adorns all these wines.)

Rod also makes a knockout wetfeet merlot from the Onkaparinga flat and an old vine Barossa shiraz that smells like a black horse. But the true king hell killer is his forthcoming cross-dressing gunslinger shiraz from just beside the pinot at Domaine de la Romaney Counting. I mean Romney Park. So. A Rhone variety with a Latin name in a Burgundy vineyard in a German town in Australia? Too right. Get in before they learn about pricing.

FOOTNOTE: All Romney Park Wines are sealed with the superior Diam compound cork closure. They are available at romneyparkwines@senet.com.au

1 comment:

sherl said...

Pinnerwah? Are they really so good?