“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)





03 December 2013


Mad politicians got it all wrong
Laura norder goals misplaced
It's the winer mobs that's BAD
John Rau and Campbell Newman have got it all wrong.  Forget bikers.  You want gangs with barricades?  Check the wine mobs. Some hide behind walls of old worn out oak. For ramparts, others prefer ivory towers, or mansions on the swill.  Some of the Petroleum Hair division wear real tight suits too small for a properly-developed person.  You got your Bespectacled Marketing Mavens and their High-Heeler sub-branch and now and then you strike the Blazer Mob who drive German tanks and insist on fortresses of expensive new wood. Some of these attempt supremacy through their Family First splinter group.

There's the Cargo Pantsters who seem to control most of the currant winemaking, but they're notoriously unfaithful to their form: an infidelity rate which seems to shorten their genes.

Many of these, especially the hard-core cadre who dress like construction workers, nurse a blind faith that they can build an empire from sawdust, shavings and chips if there's enough plastic, colorbond and stainless steel around to contain it. 

These Hardhats usually work for the Blazer Mob, but pretend they don't. Their secretive surveillance/white supremacy wing makes wines in refineries with no oak at all.  They've moved from currants to water.

Then there's the vast gang who think the world will change when it repents and converts to varieties that end in O.  This is run almost entirely by the Cargo Pantsters and is another indication of their hi-risk promiscuity. Look what they did with Alboriño. Planted it, made it, marketed it, discovered too late it was really Traminer and called it Savignin so we'd think it was that addictive grassy stuff from New Zealand and drink it all up as if we didn't care.

Obviously never thought of calling it Savigniño.

Bits of all these gangs will support any of the others at what appears like random attempting greed, but is often just seat of the pants line of least resistance sort of thing more or less in the general direction of selling some wine, especially to China.

That's only the winebiz operatives: the makers and movers, shakers and groovers.  We must also consider their followers in the noisy marketplace: dressalikes and contrarians, couldabeens and wannabees, bald men with dandruff, the curmudgeons and the loudmoufs and open moufs and, like, the total bi-polar norfandsoufs. 

There's the quietly smouldering platinum lasses with a grandchild or two in the out-of-tune convertible who prefer their tincture in a chrome handbag, and then the Lurch and Morticias who avail themselves of every single free tasting in every pub and every bottle-o and sometimes fit in five or six in a row on a successful Saturday after the Central Market. Many of these are retired schoolteachers who expect individual bills in restaurants because you had a slice of bread which they refuse to pay for because they didn't.

There are many more marauding packs, of course.  In the spirit of ecumenism on our famous winemaking Lord's 2013th birthday I trust you'll forgive if the writer has overlooked yours.

This is not to deride or decry: it's just what we're like.  My mob of Avuncular Pirates with bad hair is locked in territory wars with nearly all the rest: street battles so wild and intense that innocent diners perish in the crossfire. 

Because of our belief in the weight of solid rock my loose lot's under constant attack from the Whitecoats who slither like Gollums in the hallowed halls of academe, insisting their regime can overcome all of nature, geology especially.  They reckon the rocks are all in my head.

Then there's these new tribes of Hillsbillies who decry all the above and let their wine happen the way it occurred before science: away back before we even learned to think.  

Just as the heathen live on the heath, as the wild haunt the wilderness and the bogans relish their bogs, these Hillsbillies live in hilly forested country or beside it and by shaman ritual convince themselves that all the rest of us are not attacking them to counteract their previous imagining that we were.

Or vice-versa. It varies.

Since it was suggested here a few weeks back that the parallels between wine and rock don't stop at stoners but extend readily to the creation and marketing of popular music my theory has sprouted some strange tendrils as it wound around the international backwaters of the net.

One response floated the other day in London suggested that having been fed up with the arrogant industrialisation of wine, these Hillsbilly winemakers flipped into the past pretty much as folks like Johnny Rotten and Siouxsie the Banshee and The Slits suddenly went punk in protest at the industrial commercialisation of folk and rock.  

But punk was more of a reaction against the mascara'd platform heel glamrock crowd and the fried shoegazer jammin doodle hippy mob which was the musical equivalent of these Hillsbilly winos anyway. 

More importantly, it was only months before punk was industrialised and commercialised.  It was piss easy to play.  Like Hillsbilly wine, once you got your attitude down, it pretty much made itself.

The other difference is that punk was actually a new invention.  Before they appeared, there was nobody like The Ramones.  In contrast, orange, bearded and brown wines are not new.  In musical terms, they are not punk.  In some ways, they're the the vinous equivalent of the finger-in-the-ear folksingers who began somewhere around Richard the Lionheart or the Magna Carta or somewhere and the fanatics in the fifties and sixties who believed that blues could be sung only by impoverished blind black men in patched bib overalls.  They bring to mind the sanctimonious duffel coated types who, having heard that a similar thing had happened the year before at Newport, got up and stalked out of the Palais behind The Exeter when Bob Dylan brought The Band on stage and plugged in a Stratocaster.

At first I thought, that to find their recipes, the Hillsbilly wine movement would never reach as far back in history as Nero, Caligula and Claudius, who to crazy effect drank wine stabilised by red lead, but fact is they stretched even further back into the pre-stabilisation epoch, before the sommeliers of the ruling classes tried some science to make the wines taste better and last longer.

Of course natural wines have their place and their market, and when their  producers admit the existence of alchemy, even science, the wines can sometimes be wondrous burnished mysteries, if a tad ephemeral - the worst  have the shelf life of unpasteurised milk.  Thing is, this rebellion's a kick in the teeth of the university Whitecoats who train Hardhat winemakers at the Waite, and all the mobs who follow.

Pity they didn' see it coming; shame on them that it had to.

How long will it last?  Probably as long as it did before the very recent Whitecoats invented refinery wine in conjunction with the Blazers and their armies of hi-res Hardhat drones. Like five or six thousand years.
Is it a problem?  Only if you're expected to drink it and you don't want it.  Like when your petro-quiffed Hipster/master sommelier insists you do a bottle of living murk when in fact their ancient Roman counterpart was at least making an effort to stabilise and clarify the wine of the day.

Way back there in the smoke and the fiddling and Caligula making his horse a Senator one bright spark even abandoned the lethal lead business and began burning brimstone - sulphur - in the barrels.

This method of stabilising and preserving wine has lasted only a couple of thousand years, but in that short time many gangs, cadres and elites have formed to show their support by paying to tip it into their bodies.

With food, of course.

Even Bacchus and Pan ate food. Like Jesus, they have very big mobs indeed.  They probably don't even know it, but it's this naughty trinity that Rau and Newman are really at war with.  Which means they don't have a hope in Hell of victory.

Let's drink to that, shall we?

All these cartoons are from the funny book the author has published with George Grainger Aldridge (below).  Click on any image to enlarge it.  Apologies for the dodgy reproductions - the DRINKSTER's begging Santa to deliver a new scanner. If you want to see these works in their truest form, you'll have to buy the book. For distribution details of Evidence of vineyards on Mars enquire at cwhite at adam.com.au ...  replace that at with an @ though, won't you - we're trying to cut back on the junk email. And o yes: merry exmess.


Anonymous said...

Riddim, roll, riffs ... I could feel you having fun writing it and that you could feel the music writing it.


Z said...

Impossible. Way beyond any writing on wine, modern or ancient. Cervantes.

@Moredsir said...

"Blazer Mob who drive German tanks and insist on fortresses of expensive new wood" LOL Philip!

I may be a closet Cargo Panster since the world is better with Mataro...and Razzo n Cabbo but not Pino ... yet

@SteveDingwall said...

Great read! I reckon I'd have enjoyed this even if I didn't care about wine. Certainly my kind of wine writer.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing,
You wrote this with last Friday's bus ride in mind didn't you