“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 March 2009


"We've All Got Some Adjustments To Make"
Fosters Admits Simple Cockups
Pommie Coke Hits £1 A Line


Since the Wine And Brandy Corporation AND St. Jancis are saying the Australian vintage is not as bad as some errant scoundrels reported, I knew a brilliant statement from Fosters must be coming next.

It seemed unlikely on the face of it, because Fosters must be all statemented out after last week, with a new business plan for their wineries, and their new wine branch and all, and the terrible challenge of what to call it ... I mean they’ve decided it’s there, and there it must be, like the wine group and everything, suddenly absorbing baby wine marketers like a driver recruitment racket for a stretch limo mob, and it hasn’t got a name? Oh my God.

What comes to mind? Now, let me see ... Fosters? Penfolds? Wolf Blass? Rosemount? Tollana? Jamieson’s Run? Black Opal? Kaiser Stuhl? Andrew Garrett? Tin Men? Repo Man?

But it came! Nah, not the name. That’ll cost ’em $200,000 ... Not for me - I’m not in the league of the winebiz serpent greaser who could sell Fosters its own word for $200,000. I'm talking about the unlikely statement from Fosters, which would once and for all trounce the namby-pamby positivism of our beloved vintage Jancis and the Australian Wine And Brandy Corporation.

Something really bloody gut-wrenchingly depressing!

It came. It was magnificent when it came. It even trounced the hot slow news of how the fair Jancis narrowly survived Black Saturday. It came from Group Director James Lovell, who today told the Australian Bureau of Agriculture Resource Economics Outlook 2009 conference:

“We've all got some adjustments to make".

Does he know something Jancis and the AW&BC don't?

“Our competitive advantage has gone and our competitors are catching up”, he said.

Dr Lovell must have verged on bitter regret when he then went on to explain that Australian wines were “a bit the same”, that drinkers were “looking elsewhere”, and that Australia needed to push and "rebuild brand Australia” by promoting luxury wines and making wines with a broader ranger of flavours and styles.

This astonishing revelation came hard on the heels of that same Fosters, Australia’s largest sudsmonger, admitting it had completely buggered up when it shrunk the Cascade stubby by 45ml from 375ml to 330ml without dropping the price accordingly.

James must have been completely shagged after the humiliation of admitting that Australian wines are a bit the same, so another Fosters person, Felicity Watson, took her turn at the Gatling and admitted that when Fosters shrunk the stubby by 12%, sales dropped by 33%.

In a more or less blondish moment she said they’d shrunk it to “give the bottle a more European appearance”.

Why didn't she say it was an attempt to stem binge drinking?

And Tasmanian beer? European? I thought it had a Tasmanian tiger, a thylacine, on the label. European? With the help of the swarthy Armada Irish, the blonde European settlers killed all the poor bloody thylacines by 1936!

Highly retouched, Thylacinus cynocephalus, above, [Greek: dog-headed pouched one] is what we call the Tasmanian Tiger. Fosters put 'em on its Cascade beer label, long after they were all dead by 1936. And then the boofheads cut the volume of the stubby by 12% and left the price where it was!

Anyway, Fosters will gradually reintroduce the 375ml stubbie for the thylacine freaks, without increasing the price. Talk about capitulation!

You’d think that at a time when so many great minds are completely contrite and freshly focused on the brave new hyperprofits of tomorrow, they’d have the brilliance to just go that little bit extra and realise that they’re all in the business of flogging really cheap recreational drugs which are in fact dangerously depressive. So the cut in volume could have been sold as a socially-responsible manouvre. No?

Okay. Try this: Why not sell cheaper, stronger, arguably safer, much more reliable stuff that won't cause depression?

The Babyboomers need pain relief!

The British Home Office has just admitted that the street price of both cocaine and heroin has fallen by half in a decade, with cocaine now available for £20 a gram, down from £77 ten years back.

So when a takeaway bottle of execrable Australian plonk can set you back £2 to £4 in a London Tesco, a glass of said swill at a bar £3.50, and a pint of lager around £2.75, a line of coke will set you back just £1. Glass of water, line in the bogs, go home sober without your head kicked in, still do the bedroom business, and save money, see?

In a stroke of analysis whose brilliance could only be matched by Fosters, the Home Office suggested that drug prices may be falling partly because fewer people are buying drugs.

So why are previously reliable British plonk discounters’ not restocking shelves? Why do five British pubs go bankrupt each week? Eh? Don't try to tell me it's not 'cause cocaine's the better buy.

Are we all incapable of stretching our tiny minds just that one extra inch? Bugger this pretending vintage is lovely and Fosters will get better, and Cascade drinkers can count ... why don’t we all work together to sell beautiful Tasmanian Government heroin to the rest of the world? We can make cleaner hospital grade opiates than Afghanistan in Tassie, and we do!

You might think I'm getting off the track here, but please bear me out. This is lateral thinking, and, as my dear departed mate Stephen Hickinbotham used to say, "one lateral kiss is worth a thousand standing up".

Over thirty years, the Tasmanian opiate industry has grown to a $200 million a year business. Best pain relief on Earth, so America insists it should remain illegal.

Funny, really. The American wowsers are encouraging Tassie to bugger its beautiful opiates business in much the same way Carlton United Breweries, now a Foster's subsidiary, mucked up the Tasmanian hop business when they monopolised it and tried to control the market, and the flavour of all Australian beer, by making an essence from all the hops and selling only that to anybody who needed fresh hops.

Imagine Coopers having to buy industrial hop essence from CUB.

Pretty soon all Australian beer tasted like Carlton Draught, so we flocked en masse to Coopers, and to European lagers. To discover why, CUB got into bed with Interbrew, the Belgian Beer Cafe mob who owns nearly every interesting beer. They set up Belgian beer pubs around Australia to learn about the premium beer market. They even tried to buy The Exeter!

So soon we had the new smaller Cascade bottles filled with beer which the labels boasted was lovingly hand-crafted with only the best fresh hops from Europe.

The USA, which runs the world's opiates business, buys 80% of its hospital-grade opiates from India and Turkey, whilst much of its street hammer comes from Afghanistan. It strictly limits the amount of opium poppy Tassie can grow to supply the rest of the world's hospitals, using the excuse that stuff might seep onto the streets of Emurka. We wouldn't want to interfere in the Afghan trade, now, would we. Nope.

Now, driven by their paranoid fear of morphine, the Americans are gradually relaxing their 80-20 rule on the proviso that Tassie grows more of the tricked-up opiate-free Thebain poppy, which is used to make the drug OxyCodon, which is not as intense in its pain-relieving capacities as morphine or the old Nepenthe hospital grade heroin, which the pious and sanctimonious USA also put an end to.

It's like the genetically modified Canola business, or the corn/petrochem industry.

Mallinckrodt and Noramco, the Johnson and Johnson subsidiary, report that last year their sales of OxyCodon increased by 95% to suddenly make it a $1 billion business.

Anyway, I reckon that with CUB's raw experience in the Tassie hops racket, and the brilliant marketing skills of Fosters, who know how to provide less for more, then replace it with more for less and get everybody feeling sorry for them, we should nationalise Fosters, liberate the Tassie poppy farms, and flood the UK and USA with pure Tasmanian Government grade heroin, using Fosters' expansive international distribution networks.

There are those among us, after all, who cannot forget the pristine beauty of Sandoz, the USA goverment branded LSD, which was second only to Owsley's in quality.

Sandoz, eh? ... Mmmmm ... Fosters posh new wine division, whatever they eventually call it, could distribute the Thylacine Superior brand, which would be in a pack just 12% smaller than the Tassie Devil Magnum, which would be the bigger pack, but cheaper, and distributed by the beer division.

This would return Australia's competitive advantage, and destroy the traditional marketplaces of all other purveyors of the Dreaded Devil's Brew.

We've all got some adjustments to make.

I could get my lovely Mum Drinksy (top) out of the pinot vat long enough to pose for some poppy shots for the "Put An End To Depression" advertising campaign, and Brand Australia would once again conquer the world ...


Tony said...

You really are quite mad, Phillip.

Anonymous said...

You really are quite mad, Phillip.

Anonymous said...

Re Tony's comment: That's what was said about Einstein, Van Gogh, Hemingway and many other great artists. I find your blogs refreshing Philip - keep up the good work. Makes a pleasant change from the other boring baffle on wine sites!

Anonymous said...

Difference is, they actually had talent.