“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)





29 June 2012



Maynard Caught Red Handed
Zis Bloke Work For Penfolds?
Nope. He's The Caduceus Man

by PHILIP WHITE all photos of Maynard and Puscifer by Milton Wordley, who's working on our forthcoming book, A year in the life of Grange

Strange week. Peter Gago was somewhere up in the sky above the Atlantic Ocean, en route to Moscow, when friend of DRINKSTER Milton Wordley took these photographs of Grange lover Maynard James Keenan on stage with Puscifer on their current USA tour.
Networking, see, us blokes.

Gago had just staged the biggest Grange tasting ever held outside of Australia, opening a full set for the adoring cognoscenti in New York. Maynard, meanwhile, put on his airliner pilot uniform to enjoy another bottle off his drinks trolley while he screamed for his supper in Colombia, in his birth state of Ohio. Maynard can also roar, I should probly say. He's really good at it. And he'll purr if you're not careful.

It wasn't too long ago when Grange was only conspicuously drunk by the likes of the Adelaide Steamship Company's John Spalvins. It was a right wing wine for suits. Maynard, the stone bald or bewigged freak fronting bands like A Perfect Circle, Tool and Puscifer, is not like John Spalvins. Maynard is a respected winemaker for starters. He's building his own winery, Caduceus, beside his 1500 metre altitude vineyard near Jerome in Arizona. His wines are as intense and unflinching as he is. And he still holds the record for paying $73,000 for an imperial of Grange 1998. Something Spalvins never paid. The times are a'changing.

Praise Bacchus and Pan for that.


This thing about rock stars and luxury wines is a fraught zone for many hyper-protective marketing floozies. The local Dom people hated it, and Krug quietly loved it when I boasted in the 'eighties that the likes of Mick Jagger drank Dom but I drank Krug.

Readers understood immediately. 

Since then, luxury wine brand owners have cringed in horror as different giant millionaire rap thugs moved ostentatiously through their range on Youtube. Brands with gilt-edged references and impeccable respect in the right halls can suddenly be rendered bad guy bling. Murder juice. 

Ever so carefully, Gago has striven to ensure the smarter end of the rock world is comfortable with the upper limits of Penfolds, through Grange and beyond. Other winemakers envy this lofty image and price realm; some peanuts imagine that to be regarded more significantly as quality winemakers, all one has to do is release a wine that costs more than Grange. Two Hands, Torbreck, even Peter Simic, suddenly presume they're capable of such performance with wines priced through the roof.

So Gago releases the Penfolds Ampoule. Suck on this. This is a custom-made bottle of Penfolds Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. There is no closure other than the glass itself: no cork; no Stelvin; none of this glass topper with a polymer washer: there's just a twist of molten glass sealing that precious wine in. There are twelve of them, certified, signed, sealed. 

The recommended retail is $168,000. Each.

Adelaide craftsmen worked together on the Ampoule. Glass blower Nick Mount made the conical outer-case. Hendrik Forster handled the metalwork. Andrew Bartlett was the wood worker. Scientific glassblower Ray Leake made the actual bottle. And Gago and his enthusiastic ground crew made the wine from the oldest Cabernet vineyard on Earth still in constant production: a pre-phylloxera clone on its own roots.

But some parts of the world take some reaching. Ask Maynard.

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