“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)





27 June 2013


Lino Ramble Ludo McLaren Vale Roussanne Marsanne Viognier 2012
$28; 12.6% alcohol; screw cap; 85+ points

Lino Ramble is the after-hours work of two veteran Valers from Kay Brothers, winemaker Andy Coppard and slap bassist bosslady Angela Townsend.  Without going too tawny they’ve jumped on the tailgate of the Orangist Movement, by which I mean the nature of this wine.  

It’s nothing to do with the dreaded Rajneeshees of the ’seventies, although the more I think about it, I reckon really orange orange wines are a faddy thing that will last no longer than that horrid Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh did while he peeled millions from his spaced-out followers and assembled a most unholy fleet of Rolls Royces.  

Anyway, this wine, made from fruit grown on the piedmont at Willunga, is not really orange but simply leaning in that direction in the sense that it was made in the rustic manner with no sulphur until bottling, no CO2 and no fining.  So while it’s not as oxidized as that long-deceased Bhagwan, it IS oxidized in the sense that like Grange and Krug it was deliberately made in the oxidative manner.  So I'm not saying it’s not a good drink at the right time and in the right company with the right tucker - of course it is.  It has the nostalgic autumnal reek of the old fruit grange at the end of the picking season, when the unsold apples, pears and quinces are beginning to soften in their hessian sacks.  It’s a very wholesome and reassuring smell for those of us who can remember such things, and maybe a new adventure for those who can’t.  You know the wholesome and earthy point at which the fruit begins to subside contentedly through the burlap into the wooden bench?  

The flavour is bone dry and quincy, with very firm natural acid and dusty hessian/burlap/hemp tannins.  It’d be great with a rabbit rillettes and a mash of potato and parsnip with spinache almost caramelized on the side.  Nostalgia, see?  

I have changed the above text after readers thought I meant the wine was faulty because of oxidation.  This is not what I meant.  The wine was made in the old-fashioned oxidative manner, a method which shows in the wine's style and colour.  For further discussion of oxidative winemaking, check the following story about Channing Daughters of Long Island. 

King River Estate King Valley Saperavi 2011
$35; 14.4% alcohol; Diam cork; 95+++ points

Saperavi is one of the oldest varieties from the Caucasus, where the Georgians have been making wine in pretty much the same manner for 7000 years. The word saperavi means paint. Which is fitting as this is one of the blackest berries in the business.  It’s a rare thing in the sense that it’s one of the very few red grapes with red juice.  When you prune it, even the sap’s the colour of beetroot juice.  Australia’s first plantings were in the King Valley, where, phylloxera notwithstanding, it thrives in the high humid cool of that northern side of the Australian Alps.  

This model’s a cracker.  It smells like beetroot and gun blue.  Sure, there may be faint hints of blackberry and mulberry and whatever, but they’re meek and mild compared to the tight dense darkness of this aroma.  It’ll suck all the water out of your eyes, suck all the light from the room and then start sucking the volts outa your wires.  The flavour is as intense and absorbing as that black hole colour.  I know of no other wine flavour like it.  Or fruit, for that matter.  Because the juice is black, the sensitive winemaker can get all the flavour and colour required without hard pressing or extended skin contact, so we end up with this impenetrable black drink which is still fluid and slender and juicy, even tender, with hardly any tannin.  It has a little spice in the mace direction, the slightly bitter flavour of juniper without its tannin, and some leaf after the nightshade style, but mainly it’s just clean slippery silky delicious blackness that goes on and on and on.  This is the best one I’ve ever had from anywhere.  Only Satan knows how long it will live.  

In the meantime, what on Earth would I drink it with?  I reckon Mike Tyson and I should get our knees under a table and have it with beetroot, black onions and haunch of woolly mammoth ladled straight from a bubbling iron pot.  Mike’ll be welcome to eat my ears raw for dessert: the wine will have sucked all the sound from the sky by the time we’re through three or four bottles.  And besides, his chew will feel motherly. 

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