“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)


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23 April 2013

RARE TREASURES FROM McLAREN VALE




Genders McLaren Park McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005
$40; 14.8% alcohol; screw cap; 95+++ points
Made from thirteen rows of a 1991 planting of an unknown clone of Shiraz in the tiny -- 1.1 ha.-- North Block below Chalk Hill, this wine comes from the geographical heart of McLaren Vale, and yet bears little, if any, resemblance to its rivals, whether they’re from tiny or vast wineries.  Most 2005 Vales Shiraz is dying now; this baby’s hardly talking.  It’s probably the best 2005 Vales red I’ve seen.  The wine is certainly built for the long haul: it’s as tight and precise as a kettle  drum, showing no fat or jam or gloop whatsoever.  Thirty months of French oak has given it a splinter of walnut forest, but this gradually subsides as the wine ever so begrudgingly takes in air.  It immediately reminds me of the wines August Clape and family makes from the Cornas vineyard on the edge of the Rhone, but it’s tighter than those, as if it were grown in a much cooler climate.  Appropriately, it seems coolly distant at first, but gradually releases alluring insinuations of this or that: licorice, musk, cosmetics, mudcake, confectioner’s sugar, summer dust … primary fruit is the last thing on its mind.  Eventually, like after 24 hours, you’ll see reluctant oozes of baby beetroot -- borscht with sour cream, really -- and gentle, silky mulberry and prune emergent.  The palate is lean and compressed, and yet near-prefect in its formation and shape: it just seems to draw out so long and tapering and slender it’s like a gastronomic sabre being withdrawn from its sheath.  The texture is very faintly grainy: a vinous Teflon.  It has tremendous natural acidity.  It will last for decades -- four? five? -- in the cellar, and needs a good twelve hours in a jug to be best loved in this its infancy.  He was crossing varietal boundaries, of course, but I understand what one USA critic meant when he said Genders was the Petrus of Australia, before he took half a vintage of this home with him, for sale at a vast profit.  (Ch√Ęteau Petrus is currently around $2700 per bottle.)      

Settlement Wines Liqueur Palamino
$40 (500ml.); 17% alcohol; cork; 94 points
Jason Berlingieri has just released this new assemblage of the old white grape of Manzanilla.  It fits perfectly in the Settlement suite of six fortified liqueurs: the best set of such wines made outside of the giant Seppeltsfield, as far as South Australia goes.  To get better, you’ll have to drive to Rutherglen and beg.  The wine has that dusty hessian edge of the old sherris-sack beloved by the likes of Sir John Falstaff, but is nevertheless still rich with silky-smooth caramel fruit.  It has sweetly-tempered corners of marzipan and fruit mince, suet and currants, and a quiet smokiness which builds to the acrid dry edge you’ll get sniffing a cordite fuse.  The palate is fluffy, but holds sufficient acidity to give it searing form and length.  True to the grape’s source on the Jerez coast, where they open the bodegas to admit the sea air, it has that crisp, ever-so-slightly salty edge to help with its admirable balance and sweetness.  Get yourself a selection of Alison Paxton’s Kangarilla Creamery cheeses and a bottle of this, and try to work out which one provides the best partnership.  I’ll bet you’ll have to go back and get another bottle.  Perfect for Sunday breakfast.

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