“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 November 2009



Sofia's Canned Sophistry
VinTins V. Bladder Pack
Penfolds Goes All Glassy

by PHILIP WHITE - a version of this first appeared in THE INDEPENDENT WEEKLY

Sceptically mumbling that there’s nothing new under the Sun, your thirsty correspondent was amused and bemused to hear that Sofia Coppola, the film-directing daughter of the famous film-directing Napa wine magnate Francis, had released a sweet blend of pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc and muscat called Blanc de Blancs California. In a pink tin. With a straw attached.

In a rare accurate use of the word, the press bumpf insists this is aimed squarely at the “sophisticated” market. (My Oxford On Historical Principles advises that sophisticated means “mixed with some foreign substance; adulterated; not pure or genuine; deprived of primitive simplicity or naturalness; rendered artificial; falsified ... ”)

This was a Californicated shot at the cute little splits of champagne popular in the sorts of night clubs your writer consistently fails to frequent. After all that utter codswallop about which shaped glass the precious makers of champagne insist their suds are best served in, they feel no quirks about putting it in cute little bottles with plastic stoppers so supermodels can suck it seductively through straws when they’re draped across bars. Lipstick don’t smudge with a straw, see.

Barokes, the South Melbourne winemaker, has had the Vinsafe Wine-in-a-Can on the market for a fairly unremarkable five years. They won something shiny for their canned chardonnay at a show in Singapore, which was fortuitous, because they’re aiming their tinny ordnance at Asian sophisticates, of which there are apparently quite a few.

As the wine glut continues to swill biliously back and forth across the sodden globe, plonkmongers are trying anything, everything, to attract attention and move juice. Most of these are being sold in a fashionably verdant light: the producers generally claim their allegedly new container is more environmentally-friendly. Stuff like like PET plastic bottles, new angles on the bladder pack, and Tetra Packs.

Don’t laugh. The first Tetra-Pak wine these eyes saw was in Robert O’Callaghan’s flash leather briefcase at the Mascot airport in the early eighties. Rocky had not yet learnt the marketing filip he'd get by getting all verdant, and Rockford was still as small as it can only pretend to be today. He’d been working, with adman Tony Parkinson, on a way of emptying the tanks of the old Angle Vale co-op winery. That was back before the arrival of the green angle, but kiddylikker issues were already fomenting, and Rocky’s Sydney promo trip was futile. Parky went on to invent such magnaminities as Black Chook, Timbuktu, and Woop Woop.

And now we’ve got the new aluminium bottle. Aluminium and wine don’t marry. Many metals affect the flavour of wine. Drink your favourite red from a pewter chalice and you’ll know what I mean: it tastes like silver paper stuck in an old amalgam filling. The Barokes folks claim they’re got this cured with their patented plastic film which lines the can, but the consequent flavours still fail to impress this gnarly hack.

What the new USA users of various shapes of aluminium bottles are using to solve this problem is a mystery. Perhaps they imagine there is no problem.

Then, if you're talking about carbon footprint, the cost of smelting aluminium in Australia far outweighs the cost of doing it in nuclear-powered countries: Australia's electricity unfortunately comes from burning coal.

The glass container, for storage and serving, remains the preferred tankard at Casa Blanco. And now, it seems, it may also become the preferred seal.


For many years, Peter Gago, Grangemaker, has fantasised about somehow having a glass bottle with a glass closure. Not like the natty Vino-Lok glass stoppers gradually appearing now; these have a polyvinyl chloride o-ring seal: the same stuff used in the thin film over the sealing wafer of a screw cap. What Peter dreamt of was a glass-on-glass closure, an emulation of the old apothecary’s bottle, with the machined glass tapered stopper in a tapered, machined glass neck.

This is, of course, impossibly expensive for a modern bottler.

But Peter’s nearly got it, shall we say, cracked. He’s found a machine that can shave the opening of a standard bottle so that its top edge is to all extents and purposes, perfectly flat. Upon this sits a special glass disk, also flat. In prototype trials your writer has observed at Magill, this can be held in place with a ceramic clip or a screw cap yet to be perfected. It is indeed glass-on-glass: no plastic touching wine.

“We know the PVC in the screw cap holds white wine stable for decades without taint”, Peter said, “but red wine? We won’t know until the same sort of time scale has passed. Glass-on-glass will remove any such concern.”

The Grange trials are borderline hush-hush, but they continue. For those wanting more oxygen in their wine – like, say, a cork would admit over time – psuedo-sintered glass is available, meaning the bottler can offer a range of disks with the capacity to admit varying degrees of oxygen ingress without the wine seeping out. So the Grange buyer could take a case in which four bottles will live for almost ever with minimal oxidation; four bottles with, say the degree of oxidation generally achieved with screw caps, and four with the same sort of oxidation you’d get with cork. And no faults.

Totally unsophisticated, see.


Portable Storage said...

Thanks for the article.Your article was pretty informative and i hope that in future also i get these kind of article.

Portable Storage,

Carl said...

Pretty good and amazing to know about the Sceptically mumbling,also the facts given is also good to read.


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