“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)





03 November 2008

Where's Bubba's Arm?


The brilliant new super d'Arries - which were stupidly overlooked in the recent McLaren Vale wine show, lead to a Biblical treatise on the collapse of Kings, empires, morality and the disconnected arm...

d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
$65; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points
Since Chester Osborne walked away from the modern vineyard sophistry of constant cultivation and petrochemical spraying, and returned to his grandfather’s regime of honest simplicity, he says his best vineyards have taken a huge leap in quality and contentment. If this Coppermine’s any indicator, he’s understating it. This is bloody scrumptious, right royal wine from a truly great year. Perfect oak-derived spice, perfect depth of fruit, perfect varietal perfume (the lollyshop beside the fruiterer) and a divinely elegant, supple palate with a gradual rise of velvet tannin. It does the impossible: satisfies completely and deeply with every sip, and yet makes the drinking arm reach involuntarily for more. It’s so good, it’s almost boring. Seamless, polished, utterly slurpy sin in a simper – it does make me simper. Keep it for at least ten years, or surrender completely to that drinking arm, NOW. And simper. Simper all day long.

d’Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2006
$65; 15% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points
Some mechanics smell like this. The female 6’2” blonde spanner wranglers from the Crimea who specialise in v-12 Mercs and wear the bri-nylon bib overalls with no tee shirt but sport a greasy yellow rag in the hip pocket and the polished Glock in the chest one, where my Mississippi bro-in-law carried his Bible, before he was mowed down by a drunk, who I reckon was the sheriff’s best friend. Preachers always get shit. You can view ’em on the ’net. The Crimeans, I mean, not the Free Presbyterians. But you make one call; give one detail of your ID and you’re in as much trouble as you are if you stupidly let a dribble of this wickedness slip into you. Just smell it, for Bacchus’s sake, then back off. Devil Juice. You don’t need anything more sensual or sensuous or slithery than the sniff. She’ll be getting off the plane any minute, and then your children will arrange to have you murdered. So, bugger it, you drink a great gulp of it. You can also do this with Krug: just sink a tumbler of the stuff. Use thirst as an excuse. Remi Krug called this “getting Krugged” last time he was game enough to ask me out for a drink, but that was back before the war, and the Krugs are German, and now they got took over by

them damn Frog handbag factory people. Getting ironstoned or pressed doesn’t sound quite so good as getting Krugged, but it sure sounds better than getting handbagged. If you know d’Arry, you wouldn’t want to be getting darenburgered – he always whinges about the price. So swallow your pride, swallow a great greedy guzzle of this and wait for the plane. Count backwards from a hundred, leaving out all the prime numbers and the multiples of seven. I hate seven. Pretend you’re a v-12 and polish your shifter. How you say? Enjoy! Tee-hee! Get her to lock you in the cellar. And it does taste like ironstone. Ain’t that what they make shifter spanners outa? Mercs? Glocks? Bubba, whatever did happen to your arm?

d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2006
$65; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points

Dead Arm? What happened to his arm? Trapped beneath a stillborn twin in the womb? If the writing on his back was five or six points bigger we might find out, but I actually believe, and I’ve got this on really good sniff, that the arm was never there. This is the One Armed Man. He’s an ironmonger who swings his hammer with that one mighty right arm. Underneath the chestnut tree the village smithy stands. The muscles on his mighty arm are tight as iron bands. If you boiled down all the reviews in the SHIRAZ section of this blog, and half of the GRENACHE, fed ’em to your local Bubba – ’Lo, m’name’s Bubba, what’s y’all – got the local deaf reporter to interview everybody in a real deep investigative sense, then got Bubba to eat the shorthand notes, and THEN cut off his arm, you might get this. And they reckon they can teach winemaking in universities. I coulda talked about berries and tannin, acid, for heaven’s sake, and juicy strapping fruit, and Chester finally turning his back on the petrochem sprays and recreational cultivation and the near impossibly ideal conditions of 2006, but you’d still be wondering about whether the guy who never had the arm was an improvement on Bubba after you cut one of his off. And what’d you do with one you cut off? Is that the one that keeps reaching out for more cabernet? Eh? Chester mighta put it in the GSM, but it’s certainly not in the cabernet. So what's all this microscopic rubbish on the back label?

I reckon it’s what the disconnected hand wrote on the wall for Daniel, so Chester shoulda put this on there. He's not Bubba, see? Only Daniel knows who the hand should be connected to. So how can we possibly comprehend these wines?

To start with, we could learn a lot from God’s Word. Let us read from the The Holy Bible, King James Version, The Book Of Daniel, Chapter 5:

Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whilst he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom”.

Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonished.

Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, “O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation”.

Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, “Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.

“And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not show the interpretation of the thing:

“And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom”.

Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation ... O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: and he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.

“And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified” ...

Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain, and Daniel, the servant of the Lord, rolled in the arms of the Queen, who yea verily was a Mercedes v-12 mechanic from the land of the Crimea.

Now, Chester, there's a back label...

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