“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)





21 July 2012


The Odd Tasting Note emerges: 
why does one think like this?

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 2009
AU$2500(USA)-AU$4000(UK and Fr.); 13.5% alcohol; cork; 96+++ points
I know I'm gonna get a backful of silver forks for this, but I honestly wonder how many Australian winemakers would recognise this as Pinot noir. All the stuff most were taught to find in good Pinot is barely here.  Unless indicating abject derision, I rarely use capitals in my tasting notes, but on this wine they're huge:  "NO STRAWBERRIES NO RASPBERRIES NO CHERRIES" they shout.  The secret is the La Tâche vineyard, which has been there by the Burgundian village of Vosne-Romanée for over 800 years.  Think six hectares of 50± year old vines on the world's most expensive irony limestone, pruned so hard it takes three vines to fill a bottle.  The vineyard is managed using very old organic and biodynamic methods; like Moon, horses, no tractors, only vine-derived compost. Along with the wine from its neighbouring 1.8 ha Romanée-Conti vineyard, it's as good and expensive as Pinot gets, and is simply revered in the arcane world of the Burgundiac and Pinotphile.  This 2009 is being compared to the majestic 1990.  But if there's no primary fruit, what makes it great?  Structure.  Tannin.  Acidity?  The most ethereal and fleeting wafts of perfume?  But really, the damn thing seemed chockers with the nightshade aromas: the dark green aromas of those leaves, as if in thick black tea.  Pepper, juniper, leather, valerian, coaldust, iron all sat there. Surly, glowering.  Daring me. "Maybe the closest we get to fruit is a faint whiff of coconut butter", I concluded, mystified.  But then, wakey-wakey: the initial glimmers of something between tart juniper berry, sweet beetroot and very bitter cherry began to stir, and long after pouring the thing had awoken sufficiently to give just a glimpse of the overt sensuality which will dominate if the juice of those very special grapes eventually matures to swell and fill the wine's dusty, tannic whalebone corset. A good whipping would be in order before we do any mouth work.

Hurley Vineyard Balnarring Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2010 $45; 13.5% alcohol; Diam cork; 89+ points
The Pinots Kevin Bell and Trycia Byrnes grow and make at Balnarring are amongst the best in Australia each year; increasingly so as their suite of vineyards matures. This is the most junior of their four delicious wines, and the cheapest.  It's a blend of the barrels that just miss the cut, and fail to earn their place in the Lodestone ($65); the Hommage ($65) or the Garamond ($75). Each of these comes from its own specific vineyard on irony volcanic loams.  This blend is brimming with maraschino cherries.  It has hints of that dust and leaf, but minor.  All the overt fruitiness missing from the La Tâche is here in such carnal fleshiness that it's impossible to imagine they're made from the same grape.  This is silky, supple, healthy-tasting juice. You could stick a cocktail brolly in it.   The Lodestone has more iron and dust, and while it's still cherries, these are the darker marello.  Again, it is a plush, silky drink, but has that little extra tannin, and the riper fruit leaves the faintest alcohol heat in the aftertaste (91++ points; 14.2% alcohol).  Hommage is a step back toward tightness and structure rather than tender Rubens flesh, but it still abounds with wickedness (93+++; 12.8%).  And the Garamond?  In style, this is between La Tâche and the entry point Balnarring, but where the French wine has true might and grandeur, this is still immediately simply, overtly sensual. No whipping. Straight to the cot (93+++; 13.7%).


Anonymous said...


Philip White said...

Type BRETT into the search box at top left and read the first two. Then tell me what you think.