“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)





28 July 2009


Biodynamic Guru Cracks A Fruity
Beechworth Produces New Outlaw


Julian Castagna, the passionate father of Australia’s burgeoning biodynamic wine movement, has just released his annual newsletter and remodelled Castagna’s handsome website.

More importantly, he’s had his say about the current rude ignorance with which most of the wine world and plonkblogs international seem suddenly, fashionably, to regard Australian wine.“I am constantly amazed by the reception our wines are accorded,” he writes. “Amazed, not because they like the wines, why wouldn’t they, but totally amazed and saddened by the perception held by many people who think Australia is incapable of making anything other than non-gastronomic, sweet, high-alcohol wine. Amazed, also, because when I tell them of the very many other wonderful small producers making wine which is real - how it used to be - they are surprised; surprised at our industry’s lack of communication in that regard.

“It is a story about the exaggerated influence of some powerful but myopic journalists in Australia’s main overseas markets; a wine industry dominated, controlled and shaped by the big companies; and an official wine body ruled by a South Australian-centric view of wine to the detriment of the rest of Australia,” he writes, echoing a quiet but rising call from the makers of very fine wine who quite rightly feel cheated by these powers that be.

Castagna rolls his sleeves up to attack the Adelaide Club of outspoken psychotics (I can say that), weird Gollums and sly backroom operatives who seem intent on steering the wine industry into the future, when, incontrovertibly, they have failed abysmally in the past.

Even that great Colonel, James Halliday, seems almost ready to admit there’s something wrong (see following piece).

“A mandatory, export approval system which can and does deny export approval to wine that is not what ‘they’ consider the ‘norm’ or is unfamiliar, by branding it faulty, which they sometimes do even when
laboratory tests clearly show otherwise,” he says of the export approval tastings that mighty minds like Ian Hickinbotham’s consider to have no further reason for existence.

Then he gets into the fusty but powerful nature of the wine show system, which respected judges like Zar Brooks rotely call “The wine guessing games”. This writer, moi, who no longer participates in such a scandalous racket, calls them The Wine Races. They are stacked with Fine Cottons never exposed.

“Perhaps it might also be true to say that as much as the wine show system has helped deliver much
improvement to the general quality of Australian wine, it has created a culture around a small group of the in-crowd who seek to control the direction of Australian wine, from style; to who gets to sit at the table when important decisions are made about our industry, or, who are given access to important wine press from overseas when they arrive in Australia. Has this self-appointed club put self-interest before what this country needs? - individual, high quality, terroir- driven wines made by people who eat, breathe and live their land in pursuit of something special?”

Then Castagna quite literally calls for revolution:

“It is time Australia had a revolution from the ground up, one which shakes our industry’s mixture of
self-satisfied smugness and corporate neglect. The fact is, there are very many small Australian producers making wine, at many price points, that the world actually wants to drink. We simply are not communicating that fact. Our industry bodies are meant to represent all wineries in Australia but seem incapable or unwilling of supporting all sections of our industry equally.

“If ever there was a time for the small serious producers to take matters into their own hands, it is now. If we leave it to those who seek to lead us, Australian wine will continue its slide into sameness and mediocrity. I for one will not be surrendering to those who seek to trivialize the small, independent
winemakers. Many of us are more committed than ever to the pursuit of the highest quality; individual wine of terroir. It is time to expose the world to the wonderful wines made by small estates which have been till now forced, on a world stage, to take a back seat to the mediocrity which has been marketed and promoted as Australian wine in the last few years.”

Get straight onto the Castagna website and give this brave, impassioned, brilliant winemaker and environmentalist some written support, and for the sake of Bacchus and Pan, buy his exquisite wine.



Marius said...

Anyone who throws their hat into the cauldron of biodynamics is scarcely qualified to call anyone "outspoken psychotics or weird Gollums".

Biodynamics is bereft of any grounding in actuality. Can the author describe exactly by what mechanism this voodoo philosophy is alleged to work? Try not to use the word energy, unless it is it's correct context.

BD is not bereft, unfortunately, of perceived green sexiness, particularly by some of our noisier wine writers.
These gentlemen would seem to be in serious danger of losing their objectivity.

Would it sell more if if a wine was labeled thus;

"This wine may contain traces of magic, superstition and scientific illiteracy"?

This is what should be on the labels, as it is a far more accurate description of the whole BD nonsense.


Stags bladders?? Valerian?? Skulls??? Cows peritoneum???

Eye of newt and tongue of frog.

Joe public most likely is unawares of the comical content of BD, and happy to lump it in with organic methods, which to the best of my knowledge, does not rely on medieval superstitions. This nation is scientifically illiterate enough. We don't need any more help on the road to mediocrity, thanks gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

You can talk, Marius. Your wine got snakes in it.