“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



Today is Dr Ray Beckwith’s 100th birthday.  No single human has played a greater role in the development of modern dry table wine.  Becky, a fellow Baron of the Barossa, is a great friend and mentor to this writer. Ray encouraged the former Penfolds Nuriootpa stable boy and messenger, the young Max Schubert, to seriously pursue laboratory work instead of pretending to be a lab assistant.  In 1936 he worked out how to manipulate the pH of wine, and basically invented a winemaking recipe which is now rotely used all over the world.  He also encouraged and made possible Ian Hickinbotham’s discovery of the nature of malolactic fermentation, which was first commercially applied in the 1952-3 Wynn’s Coonawarra reds, which Hick made under the patronage of the brilliant David Wynn.  Becky’s revolutionary 1934 paper on yeast also played a vital part in the development of modern wine science, and made possible Alan Hickinbotham’s founding of the wine science course at Roseworthy College. On Monday, DRINKSTER will publish a report of tomorrow’s private birthday lunch for this remarkable man.  Happy happy hundredth, my dear generous, genius friend! 


pissed right off said...


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Vineyard Paul said...

The wine industry stands on the shoulders of great men.

longrun said...

hip hip - for he the jolly good fellow!

Philip White said...

It was the most perfect day. Ray got up and spoke, pulling out numbers and dates and anecdotes without notes but with remarkable accuracy, humour and alacrity for forty minutes. When he got up to about 1936 he said that'd probably do and sat down and on we went. I shall attempt to describe it properly soon.

Leo9 said...

Just came upon a new word that, just for a moment, stumped me; and spellcheck; rotely.

Philip White said...

And there was I, worrying about the old suggestion that Ray gave Max his job, as I first, foolishly, by rote wrote here.

"Now it lyes you on to speake to th'people:
Not by your owne instruction, nor by'th'matter
Which your heart prompts you, but with such words
That are but roated in your tongue
Though but bastards and syllables
Of no allowance, to your bosomes truth."

I shall be quizzing Ray about this later this week: it does seem that the two were highly competitive: one the blacksmith's son with no academic credentials, who almost boasted to Huon Hooke that he bullshitted his mates, pretending he was a lab assistant when in fact he was a stableboy and errand-runner; the other slightly older chap arriving four years later with a degree and a job in the first laboratory built there. I think it will depend upon the date of Max's transfer to Magill. Whatever I discover, I love the tantalising notion of Lesley Penfold Hyland so early recognising the potential of his two young Turks and giving them rein! Could this happen in today's realm of psychological testing by employers?

Sorry you'll have to cut and paste, but check this angle:


Philip White said...

Anyway, I should probably have used "rotually".

Philip White said...

And anyway again, you're reading the wrong bit. My report on the kneezup lies above.

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