“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)





25 March 2013


Adelaide discovers big logos
Wine HQ goes aggro badging
Funny thing held in Leigh St. 

While I believe many millions of expert twats on television and Facebook have derided it, I like Ken Cato’s South Australian logo with the door in Australia where South Australia used to be.  It’s no Da Vinci cartouche, but already I see the odd Tweeter using it to frame their portrait for their avatar, which means it’s winning. 

And anyway: television?  Facebook? I quit Facebook when it started going really rotten back in the Cambrian, and I've never owned a television in my life.

I don’t think it’s quite as subliminally unforgettable as Cato’s Commonwealth Bank Vegemite Sao thing, but I do prefer it to the BankSA logo which always reminds me of an inflamed vagina as viewed by a dazzled or confused person and is not a Cato work.  It’s interesting that the BankSA website  barely uses its own logo, but there you go.

Hard on the tail of the new South Australia logo came last Friday’s strange thing in quaint old Leigh Street, in the city.  Fuller Communications’ invitation called this the “Adelaide Wine Capital launch”.  It seemed to involve the first exposure of the word Adelaide written by a computer with no sense whatever of the wonders of the well-wielded calligraphy nib.

PR man Peter Fuller addresses the crowds from the balcony

“Adelaide really is the wine capital of Australia,” the headline announced.  That caught my eye.  Darwin and Brisbane must have been really pissed off.

“Not only will the Wine Capital name start appearing on international maps,” it frothed, “the launch will spearhead a new tourism campaign – 365 days of Wine and Food – to help visitors explore the state’s wine regions as well as the many wine and food outlets in the city.” 


South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill addresses the gathering from the balcony.  Note the neat Ken Cato SA map logo, and the twee and clumsy Adelaide Wine Capital of Australia to the left of it. See how all Cato's expensive thought, and perfectly crisp work, is eroded by the selection of the awkward and dull computer calligraphy of the Adelaide word: it reminds me of Johnson's Baby Powder. 

This appears to me to be a blatant promotion of drink driving.  Unless tourists drive themselves, or have the large sums required to hire one of the various winery tours specialists*, there is no way of visiting any of our wine regions.

I travelled recently from Kangarilla in the McLaren Vale region, to Bob and Wilma McLean’s Farm in the Barossa, and responsibly tried to do so by public transport of which there’s none at my front gate on the main road from the Adelaide Hills to McLaren Vale so that’s a bad start.  What makes it even more twisty as far as necessity goes is that I wisely took my driver’s licence away from myself nearly 25 years ago, and officially removed myself from the driving chair.  If you’re in this racket with any deliberation, you simply must never drive.  Especially if one is a petrol head, as one feels responsible to be in a burgh whose government sponsors the official worship of the petrol-fed V8 engine with an annual 300 km/hr hoonfest through the city streets.

Strangely, this deadly outdated debacle is sponsored by an electrical goods company.  If the cars were electric, I might show an interest. 


Some of the reporters of Adelaide attended.

McLean’s Farm is on what I call the Barossa Tops, the upland beyond Mengler’s Hill, toward Angaston.  My travail between the two jewel wine regions went car, bus, bus, train, lung infection, bus and  car.  For this hardened public transport expert, it took four-and-a-half hours. Except the lung slime from the people who caught the train at Womma or somewhere and coughed all over everything.  That stayed a fortnight. She was a bewdy.

Which leads me to marketing South Australia, to get it, as they say,  back on the map.  Which is a place moving on into the future, further on up the track. I think we’ve got plenty of road maps.  I believe they were invented by George W. Bush.  What we need is an affordable public transport system so that one may partake of the alcoholic product this government is promoting without breaking its laws.

Some important Adelaide wine identities and politicians attended. Below the "Aspects of Healing" sign you see Gail Gago MLC, Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Forests, Regional Development, State and Local Government Relations, and the Status of Women, while above the "Rewarding you with opportunity - your career in massage awaits" sign stands Leon Bignell MP, Minister for Tourism and Sport.

“Adelaide is the only Australian city that has seven wine regions and 200 cellar doors within an hour's drive (McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, Clare).”  This came in the list of fatuous nonsense beneath another headline, “Why Adelaide is the Wine Capital of Australia.”

One wonders whether anybody from Fuller Communications has ever travelled anywhere other than by helicopter.  Adelaide to Clare?  One hour?  It’s 150 kilometres, for Bacchus’ sake.

Geography aside, this document is unforgivably shoddy in its sense of history.  It says of the late Dr Ray Beckwith that he “developed world first micro-biology technologies in the 1960s, preventing bacterial spoilage of wines”.  Beckwith, who died last year, did his greatest work in the 1930s and 40s.  This is not a secret.

Most people walked straight past.  They probably already knew their town was the wine capital of Australia. Wine marketer Kate Giles, who was pouring tasting samples, reported the public interest picked up after 5:30, but that they tended to dive mainly on the current buzzwines.

“Max Schubert was the first winemaker in the world to mature Shiraz in American oak,” it continues, under “Why Adelaide is the Wine Capital of Australia.”  What in the world do these wine experts think Australia’s winemakers matured their Shiraz in for the preceding 100+ years?

“Renmark winemaker Tom Angove invented the first bag in the box wine cask,” it trumpets, ignoring the fact that the bladder pack was a vinegar container used in Italy for many years before anyone in Australia pinched the idea.  Better left as a vinegar pack, I always thought. Then again, maybe they have. 

During the Premier's speech, the drought broke for a brief time.  

“Host of first international wine trade event, Savour in October 2013 (sic)” is another of the reasons Adelaide is the Wine Capital.  Who are these boofheads?  Savour?  The first international wine trade event?  Have they ever heard of Vinexpo?  Could somebody tell them that at the 1889  Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair and huge wine show and trade event, held in Paris to coincide with the opening of the Eiffel Tower, Harry Dove Young’s St George’s Claret, made at Kanmantoo, was awarded the gold medal for best wine in the world?

I could go on for hours about this nonsense.  Those who actually count in the international wine scene pretty much presume that Adelaide is Australia’s wine capital.  The reason we don’t preach about it is our embarrassment at the cruel truth of what a hokey,  honky botch of uncertain, ill-informed peanuts it really is.

As I said at the top, I like Ken Cato’s new logo for South Australia, and thought it shone a stray glimmer of enlightenment on the government of Premier Jay Weatherill, a name nobody in government or media seems able to pronounce, but then they can’t pronounce Fleurieu, either, which might be why this beautiful peninsular wine region en route to Kangaroo Island was not mentioned in “Why Adelaide is the Wine Capital of Australia.” But they probably miss the Fleurieu on the chopper to KI.

This bloke strode purposefully down the lane to give me a bit of a word about something he thought somebody'd told him I'd said about his business. The dude's one of the characters involved in closing the Salopian Inn, one of McLaren Vale's great eating houses, restaurants, and fine wine centers since the Gumprs opened it in 1851This Sydney outfit bought it and turned into a down-market beer joint, selling Vale Ale, suds they paid somebody to make interstate and then sold in the Vale to much fanfare and thick layers of extravagant and repetitive signage.  Not to mention much frothy pressMany times over many months the staff assured me they, or "he" made the beer locally, which was the standard line"Where", I asked one pert lass.  "In the shed," she assured me.  After too many locals complained about this big fib, Vale Ale applied and gained approval to build a tiny brewery a few kilometres away at Willunga.  They served the Willunga beer for a short time, then made some sort of a deal with Woolworths to make a lot more of it than their license at Willunga would permit.  So while it looks like they'll be having that new Vale Ale made in Western Australia, suddenly and unceremoniously they sacked their staff and shut the Salopian Inn.  So here's your man.

Anyway, as there is no pubic transport, I cadged a ride to town from a mate (taxi home: $84) to attend this Fuller Communications thing in Leigh Street.  They had security guards and Nazi ID tags, plastic tasting cups and a line of tables down the middle of the street, upon which many volunteer winemakers had brought a total of 365 wines to taste (limited to two bottles of each product).  There were politicians and journalists and wine industry identities befitting the village this is, all standing with necks craned as Premier Weatherill read the Fullers’ “Why Adelaide is the Wine Capital of Australia” list from away up on a balcony.

He should have worn a laurel wreath, or waited til they finish the Coliseum. If, indeed, it was necessary at all.  The whole damn thing was Caesarian in more ways than one, and most certainly premature.

This is what was down that side lane.  There was no Semtex in the striped bag.  All photos by Philip White


*FOOTNOTE: Contrary to the frisson of agitated village pump gossip this comment has triggered, it is in no way a slight on the winery tour professionals.  The wine regions depend on such folks.  But the fact is that most everyday wine enthusiasts cannot afford to hire a driver whenever they visit a winery.  If however, they could avoid driving by using cheap, reliable, efficient public transport to arrive in their chosen wine region, they would then be more likely to spend the $100-200 fare they'd just saved on employing a local driver within the region.  The DRINKSTER makes no secret of his admiration, for example, of Chook's Little Winery Tours in McLaren Vale: since Chook's excellent business opened, life in this district has changed dramatically for the better for all those who love their wine but won't blend it with driving.  The amount of visitors' wine expenditure businesses like this create is truly phenomenal.  The thought that some wineries actually expect Chook to pay them to deliver tasters to their door is just another indicator of how dumb and greedy some of the idiots in this business can be.  They won't see me bringing mates to their cellars!  More on this stuff on DRINKSTER in a week or two.  In the meantime, if you're planning a trip to the Vales, call Chook (0414 922 200).  


steve said...

Adelaide-the Best Wine Region on the planet! Thought of this bloke http://youtu.be/6m6LhZJdCQY
Cheers Steve

Boganville said...

Very droll and entertaining piece on this 'event'. My 18 year old happenend to be walking past and thought it was great. He said he recreated the classic scene from SideWays - refusing to use the spitoon. haha.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah
chook rocks.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Salopian will reopen within weeks with a new proprietor and crew. Back to a real restaurant and wine bar. No more buses full of drunk bogans!

Greg Willson said...

you are truly my favourite wine scribe PW. I too chose not to bag the new logo and was appalled at the slagging it got in AdelaideNow. keep up the clear thinking and great writing.

Anonymous said...

I can reach these regions from Melbourne in an hour: Geelong, Mornington, Yarra Valley, Macedon - Sunburn- Gisborne, Westt Gippsland , Bendigo - Harcourt - there's seven so this must make Melbourne the wine capital as well. Perhaps the best answer is divide the country. South Oz can be one of north Korea, north Vietnam or East Germany. You are all commios over there apart
from the landed gentry of the Adelaide Hills. Is that a
region or is it a thiefdom?
The Geelong brave!

The Geelong Brave!