“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)





19 February 2013


Yangarra McLaren Vale Mourvèdre 2010
$32; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 92+ points
Disclosure: this wine was made by my landlord - from bush vine grapes grown a short walk away - in a winery about 100 metres from my kitchen sink.  I have no financial interest in any of it, but my emotional and gastronomic fascination is as obvious as this proximity.  Mourvèdre is the French name of the grape Australians have traditionally called Mataro, after the name of the north-west Mediterranean town where our early colonists bought their first cuttings. Mataró is actually on the Spanish side of the border,  where they call the same grape Monastrell. To make things even more confusing, there is no longer any Monastrell in Mataró – it was never replaced after the dreaded phylloxera vine louse killed the vignoble a century ago.  Now that our South Australian state government is intent on relaxing the phylloxera laws so it’s easier to transport grape and vine material from phylloxera-infested areas in Victoria and New South Wales, it’s important that you enjoy wines like this, because bush vines like these will be gone the minute the damn thing crosses the border.  It’s intensely-flavoured, velvety wine, with aromas that subliminally hint at 6B pencils, Parade Gloss boot polish, and freshly-polished horse tack.  Its fruits are somewhere between the rooty-fruity fragrance of borscht – cool beetroot soup with yoghurt – and the meaty twang of blueberry.  Its flavours are somewhere between those fleeting notions, inked with the reek of times and tastes past: it’s nostalgic stuff, with soft tannins that remind me of the grainy images in old movies.  It’s never heavy, jammy, or gloopy. It’s the sort of red I can drink in the morning, without food, just for its powerful memory triggers.  I could have it instead of lunch, or with some, in which instance Wah Hing tea-smoked duck comes immediately to mind.  I could have it in the afternoon, with or without Alison Paxton’s exquisite Kangarilla Creamery goat cheese from next door, and then, come to think of it, I could have it with dinner, with dribbly lamb cutlets and mash.  In other words,  I recommend it.  Trust Unca Phil.

Esperanza McLaren Vale Monastrell Vin. 2010
$35; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 91+++ points
Nowhere on this bottle is Wirra Wirra mentioned, which is tricky, because that’s the only place you’ll get it: it’s unique to the cellar sales there at the late Greg Trott’s magnificent ironstone erection.  Stone which came from the vineyards at Yangarra, just by the way of admitting even more intense local inbreeding.  It’s a more rustic version than the Yangarra brew, and uses the Spanish nomenclature rather than the French or Australian.  By rustic, I mean less subliminally evocative of gentle days past, and more forward in its thrusting of barnyard and veggie garden whiffs into the sensories.  It’s more like an Italian charcuterie, with cappocollo and prosciutto and cacciatore smoky meatiness.  Its harness leather is older and more sweaty; its fruits are dried in the sun, and sweeter.  It has slightly sharper tannin, and more prickly acidity, so I’d be more inclined to have it with lunch, rather than in place of it.  And now I’ve got this far into it, I have to admit my Italian references are silly: this is all Spanish, and bullring-raw, as opposed to the gentler, more French-effete nature of the Yangarra.  I’d take a bottle of this straight to the Elbow Room down beside Leon Bignell’s brand new by-pass at the end of the main street of McLaren Vale, and get chef Nigel Rich to serve great lumps of steak straight off his fiery Argentinian parilla.  Travel advice: visit both cellars; buy a bottle of each, take them to the Elbow Room, drink the Yangarra first with a stuffed zucchini flower and a roast cheese and prosciutto fig, the Esperanza second with your smoky haunch of dray bullock, and then try a fifty-fifty blend of the two with your cheddar.  Let me know which one you prefer.  Call it a Yangaranza Matourastrell and give my love to Nigel.  I’m thinking of jumping the fence for him.

The author beholds birthday cake # 60 : Persian fairy floss and and ice cream by Nigel Rich at The Elbow Room in the main street of McLaren Vale. Go feast!

1 comment:

Doc Zoom said...

I can see where you broke your arms Whitey ... arthritis coming on?