“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)





23 February 2012


A few Barossa winemakers last night did a 90 minute  interactive tasting with a few viewers on the web.  You can watch it here.   One of the few questions they attempted to answer was from lerose, who wanted their response to my suggestion that the 2011 vintage was far from ideal.  They answered it beautifully.

David Lehmann (pictured  above - David Franz Wines):  “I’ve known Philip for quite a number of years and I’ve got a lot of admiration for Phil’s ability to just fire it all up.  I’ve actually taken quite a great deal of exception to his almost rabid insistence that 2011’s completely fucked.  And I’m sorry for all those people out there.  It’s look, whether it is or it isn’t fucked, it’s not something to say here and now.  Listen.  All I’ll say about 2011 is let the wines speak for themselves.  I think that right now Phil’s -- yes it was a hell of a vintage and there was a lot of really bad fruit -- but the thing is that you know from my point of view as a small winemaker … we didn’t actually pick the fruit that was diseased and all that sort of stuff.  It went on the ground. I mean you know we were lucky around my little pocket around the kitchen where I live we were lucky and we managed not to lose as much fruit as the people who lost everything and we lost, you know, more fruit than people who lost nothing.  In terms of ‘is 2011 a complete right off?’  I don’t think so.”

Rick Burge (left - Burge Family Winemakers): “If you’ve got a palate you’ll find the good wines of 2011.  Philip – and I’ve known him for yonks – we go back to the early ’80s – Philip has a huge allergy to spin doctors.  And at my age I’m beginning to dislike them too.  In December I was in Hong Kong, tasting with my distributor and there were two Bordelaise and they said '2011 was very trying for you' and I said it was a pig of a vintage and they opened up and told me about their pigs of vintages.  Now if I’d have bullshitted to them they would have walked away and gone back to their tables.” 


Anonymous said...

If it's the future of wine marketing the region is doomed: the winemakers were more interested in chatting to each other than finding out what we thought of their product.

It's early days but so far, the initiative does nothing to dispel the exclusive, protectionist and pretentious image of wine. I particularly enjoyed Rick Burge's 'robust' opinion of your thoughts on 2011.

A Really Good Listener said...

I never listen to anybody who says "listen".

SydneySider said...

It's amazing that they didn't smoke Dr Veal and eat her!

Anonymous said...


Philip White said...

This brings to mind a dinner I hosted in the Barossa Ranges in the summer of 88-89. The guest was Gerard Jaboulet, and all my favourite Shiraz makers came with two bottles of their best. Gerard brought two cases of La Chapelle. One contained all his favourite vintages; the other all the worst. I have never seen another winemaker show such simple honesty.

Philip White said...

And I have never ever said that 2011 was a complete write-off. I look forward to reviewing some of the stunning wines a very few gastronomic and gardening heroes have managed to make from it. I know there are some. I have tasted them. David Lehmann obviously isn't exposed to the blistering reams of bullshit people in my line of work get from the sorts of liars that his industry employs.

Cowardly Pseudonym said...

Anonymous said: "the winemakers were more interested in chatting to each other than finding out what we thought of their product"

This, overwhelmingly, is my impression of how people in the wine industry tend to use Internet social networks: they use them to talk to each other about each other.

I've described it as being like walking into a bar and finding all the staff standing behind the bar but with their backs to the door, highfiving each other while loudly proclaiming "YOU'RE AWESOME" "NO YOU'RE AWESOME" "MAN, IT'S SO AWESOME THAT WE'RE AWESOME" while I stand there, thirsty, with my wallet in my hand, being totally ignored.

Anonymous said...

Thats awesome CP!

I like watching what winemakers say on facebook because their spin doctors dont get a chance to clean up their spelling, syntax, grammar, marketing stupidity etc. They have no worries about revealing their awesome lack of basic literary or social skills.

On another point Dave Lehmann is disingenuous when he talks about people who lost nothing. This side of West Australia I don't know anybody who kept everything from 2011. If they did, theyre theives or stupid or both and theyre likely the types Philip has been writing about suddenly selling new brand rose from dry grown bush vine grenache. With the labels that go on about a cool year providing beautiful perfumed fruit ideal for rose and similar bullshit.


Anonymous said...

Isn't that convenor Dudley's choice for Liz Mk II?

Mme Nu

Anonymous said...

The region will bring doom upon itself and there is too much spin in the entire industry and yes - there's a whole lotta wine-wanking going on. "Make sure you only bring 'select' customers to our cellar door" attitudes do not help. The wine industry will reap what they have sown.

Philip White said...

Mme Nu: I have been told by the former temporary chairman that Paul Henry is not the person selected for the job at McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism. An announcement will be made shortly

Moredsir said...

Psst, secret insider info, Marius 2011 will be brilliant. Hell I tasted enough of those grapes to be 100% certain they were top notch, and to give me a craving for a large oak toothpick later.