“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)





19 September 2013


Goodieson Brewery Autumn Ale
 $82 for a slab of 24; 6% alcohol; crown seal; 95 points 
The first fair dinkum brewery to make its beer from scratch in McLaren Vale, Goodieson won the four most coveted gongs in last year's Royal Adelaide Show Beer Awards: Champion Wheat Beer, Champion Exhibit, Champion Small Brewery and Champion South Australian Brewery. That bent a few famous noses. If you're very, very good, McLaren Vale brewers Jeff and Mary Goodieson may eke you out some exquisite Autumn Ale even though the Autumn's become Spring - the beer still works! In fact it works better. It's a rich, creamy, winey unction of malt and fruit - think aged Rutherglen muscadelle - Tokay, they used to call it - with the your grandma's entire spice rack tipped out somewhere close.  The woody spices predominate.  I want to mention nutmeg, mace, and ancient ground coriander, but that's more of a mood thing than forensic organoleptic analysis. If the wind's shiverin your timbers, and you're in a pickled walnut kind of a huff and you're reaching for an aged fortified wine, this goes in like the most redeeming, comforting, satisfying medicine, and it's about the weenie alcohol level of a friggin fizzy fronti/moscato!  I can imagine having a few jugs of this with Billy the Shake and Sir John and the lads down at the Boar's Head, haunch of venison turning slowly while it hisses and dribbles into the fire. 

Goodieson Brewery Stout 
$82 per slab; 6.5% alcohol; crown seal; 96 points 
You could comb the pubs of Yorkshire and not find a stout this good. In style, it's the creamy, caressing opposite of the unique carbon hardness style Coopers makes with its soot black roast.  This sinister, smooth-talking Christmas pudding of a beer has as much dark fruit as a vintage port. It has a little of the sooty fireplace away back in its arsenal, but the front is all bold currants and raisins in a silky, syrupy texture that melts me.  Think of a new variety of peach the colour of an aubergine and you're getting close. I want to nude up and ascend the royal cot and finish my tankard there giggling and gurgling amongst the bearskins.  And it's not yet lunchtime.  This stout's so sublimely satisfying and generous that one or two gradual stubbies is enough, provided there's another one there for afternoon tea. And again tomorrow.  All that lovely consoling fruitiness is neatly offset by a persistent but gentle wedge of fine dry tannins the like of which a lot of winemakers should envy.  Perfect with dates and cheddar.

Inkwell Black and Blue McLaren Vale Fortified Zinfandel 2011 
$35 for 375 ml., about 17% alcohol; cork stopper; 94+++ points 
Forget about that winery dog porn, and all those poncy crotch-sniffing hounds that  hang around cellar door, begging you to fondle their ears and buy more wine while they wait for the make-up division to get 'em in another centrefold. Dudley Brown's dog, Satchmo, actually picked this. The mouldy blights of the mega-wet 2011 played hell with a lot of vineyards, and Dudley had written off a fair slice of his Zin, and left it to perish on the vine while he sorted other stuff. Then Satchmo, a vigilant lover of clean ripe fruit, took a likin' to the fruit of a small patch of the abandoned vines, leading his human to them. Turned out they sure were ultra-ripe, but miraculously clean, so the Brownman picked them and hit them with some clean fortifying spirit, to snap freeze the fruit that so impressed Satchmo. So here's the first dog-picked wine I know.  It's even more Christmas pud than that Goodieson's Stout, which is saying a lot.  The blackest-bluest Zin has sucked the SVR spirit into itself and closed the lid on it, smothering it with a thick layer of something so darkly syrupy that it could well have come from a dense equatorial jungle.  More like a liqueur port than your actual vintage model, with bright drying tannins and a 17 per cent exhalation, it's just nuts to sip now. But I hope somebody keeps some and gives me the buzz in ten years. Knock on the lid of my box if necessary.  Once this was made and maturing, Satchmo got so much long life into him that he up and joined his namesake in the Juke Joint of the Hereafter, leaving Dudley to locate another canine viticulturer. Daisy, the new pup, got straight into the goldtop mushies she found in the scrub somewhere well before any grapes have even formed, and is currently reacting well to veterinary attention, counselling and a lot of cuddles.  Meanwhile this lovely Black and Blue for Satchmo is in strictly limited supply, so hit the human for a bottle of dog-selected now.  And keep your eyes on Daisy. She shows promise. 

And here's a delicious memory of the Exmess before last: Christmas Ale ... photos by Philip White

No comments: