“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)





08 August 2013


Shaw + Smith Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013
$25; 12.5%; screw cap; 85 points

At first sniff, I felt this most revered of the Sauvignons of the Adelaide Hills continues to saunter away from the grassy/gooseberry methoxypyrazine styles of Marlborough, New Zealand.  It still has a squeeze of that tell-tale lawn clippings juice, but it’s set in a creamy, gentle cosmetic confection that smells at different moments of candle wax, banana and grapefruit pith as much as fresh-squeezed starfruit.  It reminds me of the dainty revolutionary blends of Sauvignon and Semillon Peter Vinding-Diers made in Bordeaux in about 1980, but it has none of the contrasting butter and chalk of his Semillon.  It’s as if winemaker Martin Shaw has striven to build in more comforting style than the sort of cutting edgy challenge the more conventional, less sophisticated Savvys-B portray.  But that’s all aroma, and I suppose the fact is that most Savvy-B drinkers aren’t about to spend much time contemplating the smell of their drink.  In the mouth, the wine seems much more like Marlborough, in a gentle, safe, understated manner. Typical of the variety, the flavours taper off rather quickly, leaving that fine drying tomato leaf methoxypyrazine that the wine’s introductory bouquet almost convinced me not to expect.  Tangle the leash of your little fluffball Malteser round the leg of your chair on The Parade, order your salt’n’pepper squid, settle down applying your lipstick to the edge of this glass and you’ll be just tickety-boo.

Dowie Doole McLaren Vale Chenin Blanc 2013

$18; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 92+++ points

Compared to the S+S Blanc, this has more of that soft, clean candle wax aroma, like a cake of soap without any of your actual soap in it.  It also has a scratch of chalk, like those early modern-style Bordeaux whites mentioned above.  It’s altogether a more authoritative and boisterous dry white, befitting the 80 year old vines of the Blewett Springs Tintookie Vineyard from whence it came.  Then, there’s a high dry waft of grapefruit pith, and a squeeze of lemon.  It’s thicker of texture than the Sauvignon blanc, and more weighty, and in place of that overt grassiness that pleases the Savvy-B brigade so readily, it has a steely, clean squeeze of lemon. So it’ll do the same job as a Savvy-B, but with less lawn and more weight if not outright, like challenging, flavour, with food duet possibilities that extend well beyond squid.  This is more in your goat’s cheese/sheep’s cheese/smoked salmon and capers realm, lightly toasted rye and a very fine sliver of Trinidad Scorpion on the side.  The $7 difference?  I’ll leave that up to all you Sauvignon blanc geniuses to unravel.

Torzi Matthews Vigna Cantina Eden Valley Rosato di Sangiovese 2013

$20; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 89 points


See those alcohols: lovely low numbers!  In keeping with our rather pre-emptive early Springtime mood,  I felt it apt to add some Elvis Presley roses to all that savoury blancness, and it’s cool that this price lobs neatly between them whites, as opposed to us here Whites.  It’s amusing that this wine actually does smell like a blend of the two blancs above,  but with a vase of the blushing Elvis Rose humming Suspicious Minds just along the table.  Ominous and heady.  And, like most of the best of Eden Valley, the wine has that dusty schisty reek of high summer way up in those old rocks.  The flavour is pretty much along the same lines, with the roses taking on a delightful turkish delight/blood orange dribble that verges on generous and hikes the wine to a point at which it will handle much more complex flavours, like my smoked sardines or smoked redfin from the dam, plenty of old sawn-up French oak red wine barrel in the smoker, the fish massaged well with rock salt and chilli, and a taut, high-acid olive oil.

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