“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)





22 January 2014


Paracombe Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013 
$21; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points

Paracombe's pioneering Sauvignon blanc was impressive from its launch, twenty-one years ago.  Rather than being simply grassy, like the raw battery acid/catpiss/lawn clippings nature of many rival Kiwis, and later, Adelaide Hills examples, it always seemed more genteel and comforting, without being the slightest bit fat. It has always been made in stainless steel, like a Riesling. I was impressed in those early days by the wine's capacity to smell delicately rosy, perhaps after the style of the beautiful Rieslings of Brian Barry at Jud's Hill. This release has a little of that yellow rose sweetness in its fragrance, with delicious buttery Anjou pear and some lime peel: as much pith as zest. For the mineral maniacs, I'd suggest its aromatic reflection of its ground is pretty much along the lines of damp ferruginous dirt, freshly turned by the plough. So it has earthy soul amongst all those delicate reassurances. Each of these perfumes are reflected with gentle elegance in the mouth division, the wine having an almost dainty unction, balanced by that stimulating granular texture you'll find in the Belgian Bosc pear. It makes me hunger for Chef So's scallops on the half-shell, grilled with a touch of soy and mandarin peel, and garnished before serving with spring onion shreds. If you were to ask Eddie in advance for this dish at Park Lok, I'm sure the kitchen would oblige. As for all those pear references? Funny that the Paracombe plateau also grows utterly delicious pears ...      

Ben, Sarah, Cath and Paul Drogemuller of Paracombe ... 30 years since the two on the right bought their first vine cuttings after the destruction of Ash Wednesday; 21 years since their first release ... and two fine hybrids who've grown up in the interim on the left ... there was never a bad wine made by this lovely lot

Coates Adelaide Hills The Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 
$25; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points 

Duane Coates made this after the style of the dry white blends of Bordeaux, going to the extreme of basket pressing - like you'd do with a red - and depending upon wild yeasts during a ferment in expensive French barrels, then nine months on lees in the same oak.  This technique returned a meagre 300 litres of wine per tonne of fruit picked, a ratio acceptable only to a fanatic who prefers the company of gourmands to that of his accountant. It smells like damp chalk and loquat, with slightly prickly/tickly references to those fine Chene Caucase barrels. And I swear it has a whiff of white chocolate about it, like the Belgian Guylian sea shell-shaped dainties, which somehow brings me back to that White Cliffs of Dover seaside chalk. The flavour is along the lines of the buttery Anjou pear, with very fine drying tannins and soft acidity. The wine is much more genteel and elegant than, say, a Chardonnay made in the same manner: it's sufficiently stimulating to set those dribble glands gushing like faucets, but affords enough viscosity to comfort the palate at the same time.  This see-sawing of sensations drives me straight at octopus, grilled or pickled with fresh herbs. The great Enzo Clappis's pickled fish also comes to mind. Jeez I have lovely memories of The Maylands when Enzo's hand was on its tiller, and those savoury fishies on my plate!    

1 comment:

Ian Hickman said...

I caught up with Duane Coates just before Christmas, and we tried his SSB with a 2010 Bouchard Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne, and it was every bit as good. I'd love to see his wine put in a blind tasting against a few of our highest regarded wooded whites, as I think it would seriously kick butt.