“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)





12 March 2013


Down To Earth Wrattonbully Sauvignon Blanc 2012
$26; 13.9% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points

See that?  Little Whitey just gave a Sauvignon blanc 93 points.  Is he nuts?  Make up your own mind, as you usually do. We could talk for a very very long time about how a Champenoise Frenchman, Xavier Bizot, got to be making Sauvignon blanc in the young seabed geology of the south east reach of South Australia, but we won’t.  Instead, we shall discuss his delicious wine.  It reeks of the sort of heady vanillinoids I find in Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion chillies. These are currently the hottest chillies known on Earth -- they are in the extreme nether regions of heat usually reserved for the sprays used by coppers and crooks -- and what they do is blister your neurons with capsaicin which does really strange things to them until they build up a protective layer of myelin which somehow cuts the heat thing off but exaggerates the way the human detects and appreciates the types of sweet vanillinoids you might think you smell and taste in pineapple, jackfruit and durian, the most aromatic of all tropical fruits.  I love ’em, and I love the way these incredibly hot chillies also trigger mighty gushes of endorphin in my brain, adding a sort of natural-born stone to the whole effect. Smart dudes in white coats are currently testing all this in the direction of a new generation of twin-turbo painkiller medicines, which will be very cool for those of us who are over the opiates.  There’s no chilli heat in this lovely wine, of course, but it’s one of the rare birds which exudes aromas like those tropical fruits, setting off a strange range of anticipations in my sensories.  When I think I smell those vanillinoids, I buzz with expectation.  Just as when I smell truffles, I expect an highly exciting unscented pheromone to waltz through next, to turn me, like, on.  This is how the perfume business works.  Along with those basic vanilla-like creams, the wine has the aroma of the fossil bones in the seabed limestone of the vineyard, and the bones of dead yeast which Xavier stirred into the wine for months.  Calcium.  Chalk.  Ground bone china.  Diatomaceousness.  This also proves a tidy dryness to the wine’s tail, but in between these extremes there’s a delicious creamy thing that comforts and relaxes the palate with umami, most unlike anything that happens when you hit the standard Kiwi Savvy-B.  You know the type: you reel backwards from that grassy gooseberry soursob battery acid that might cut the fat that launched a thousand chips off your salt’n’pepper squid but you know.  You should never eat that shit anyway. Take a bottle of this to the mighty Wah Hing, order instead the salt and pepper eggplant, small bowl of chilli oil on the side, and sit right back and cruise.  It’s really cool, comforting Sauvignon blanc that’s completely respectful of the gastronome.  Get some.

Chilli oil at Wah Hing; Chancey's birthday : photo : Philip White


By Jingo Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale Nero Rosso 2010
$30; 14.2% alcohol; screw cap; 94+ points


The reclusive Field Marshall John Gilbert, Ninja, First Duke of the Blazing Siding, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS, known affectionately as either Gilly or Jingo by the officers of his inner cadre -- depending on the time of night as much as one’s rank -- made this luxurious wallow.  He has teased Grenache grown on the special terroir of the clifftops above the nudists’ reserve at Maslin’s Beach, McLaren Vale, and Montepulciano and Zinfandel from his unearthly vine orgy, the site of many a weird voodoo chicken ritual near Mount Barker in the South Mount Lofty Ranges, which somebody once tried to rename the Adelaide Hills.  As Yamomoto wisely wrote all those centuries back, “an officer who is not prepared to die at any moment will inevitably die an unbecoming death.”  But if one nobly lives life in constant preparation for death and wants one’s red dripping black and silky and slippery as a twice-plunged samurai sabre here it is.  If you prefer it black as the kid leather and red as the grosgrain lining in a pair of Churches slippers cut to die in, here it is.  If one wants it as easily licked as high-class nipple polish on one’s last night out, that’s here, too, by jingo.  The damn thing’s multi-purpose.  And all I’ve yet mentioned is the macho-martial approach.  A more feminine ascent to its heady glory would unleash a perfect mess of opposites, and maybe even the odd risky tendril twining like a teasing finger ’neath the officers’ mess door. It’s friggin delicious.  It smells like piquant summer dust as much as compote of red grapes, blueberries, black currants, goji, maraschino cherry and a crême de framboise, with a mega-cool miso umami. And it tastes just sicko in its comfort and unction, its chubby generosity, its fine tight acid-tannin taper, and its wicked over-the-shoulder wink as it saunters darkly off down your little red lane, daring you send down another.  If there’s still a restaurant in Chinatown which serves chopped duck on the bone, take this here damn wondrous thing  there with the most beautiful person you know. They’ll go all runny in the middle the moment they see the label.  Let them drink it, and they’ll be gone forever. 


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Anakha said...

I'm all right Jack, keep your hands off of my stack.


Philip, am I going to be able to taste the nuances of that SB with my face melting off from eating chilli on the wrong side of 1 million scovilles?

Philip White said...

Only if you're used to eating them, when I think the tiniest sliver may be a positive reagent on the vanillinoid signals in the wine, and how you see them. It was not my intention to suggest you have the two together, however. The wine is fine by itself. It should be illegal to recommend the Trinidad Scorpion.

Philip White said...

The chilli oil at Wah Hing is mild and easily edible, by the way, and nothing like the Scorpion. It would be the ideal shotgun rider for the Savvy-B.