“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 March 2011


Paul Petagna and his family, with d'Arry's veranda chef Nigel Rich, tabled the perfect vintage lunch yesterday, to celebrate the end of Paul's near-perfect 2011 squash on Sellick's Hill, McLaren Vale. That's Nigel and pizza maestro Annika Berlingieri of Settlement Wines, beside the calmest, sweetest-smelling ferments DRINKSTER has seen so far this difficult year. Nobody felt any inclination to punch the bag.

While the Petagnas blocked both ends of the table, to ensure no good will could flow away to waste, we ate figs wrapped in prosciutto and baked (this year has been freaky with delicious figs and chillies in The Vales), pork belly with Thai style salad, and the sweetest, happiest, most elegant chicken cassoulet. Our Italian-Australian hosts made us feel like the Mediterranean stretched down here to us. But there was never any doubt that we were in McLaren Vale, Australia. Praise Bacchus for our Italian community!

Paul (conducting, above) laughed as we discussed the mould difficulties the industrialised grapeyards are suffering in this shitty year. He rarely, if ever, sprays the standard petrochem dill-brain whatever you wanta call it regime, and yet there was his crop safe and clean and singing, in the fermenters, while outside, those who spray by habit all year were losing round one to botrytis cinerea, and panicking.

That's one of the Wine Diva Mercs sulking below, in the twilight. This was a truly beautiful and memorable day well had by experts, and a celebration of one great little winery's success in a vintage which is looking impossible for many and very difficult for the rest.

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