“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 April 2014


The Hill of Grace vineyard and Gnadenberg Lutheran church ... photo Milton Wordley

It was strange to see, so close to April Fool's Day, two of the grand old families of South Australian wine reaching into their past for promotion this past week.

Both sensibly used the digital ether of the social media to promote their promotions.

The first one to catch my eye, or ear, was the Henschke family's April 1 launch of Hill of Grace ($650), which my former boss at The Advertiser, Tony Love, awarded 99 points. He reported that the Henschkes had announced that each year now, upon its release, they would commission a piece of poetry to celebrate the wine and its day.

Excitement! I had the tingles thinking that the likes of Michael Dransfield, had he survived, might be able to repeat truly grand works like the poem he wrote once for ANZAC Day, having just demolished a bottle of old Hunter Shiraz, amongst other comestibles, way back when we were boys. But, perhaps reflecting on their Hill of Grace market, for this first year the Henschkes chose Rupert McCall, who has written what I'd call, well, not doggerel, but a rather posh campfire ballad.

It's certainly a long way from contemporary Australian poetry.

Having listened harder, I couldn't help imagining the congregation of the Gnadenberg (Hill of Grace) Zion church singing McCall's work to the tune of, say, Martin Luther's Ein neues Lied wir heben an. 

... to the drum of the band
they were building their brand
before Cyril had destiny find him ... 

This last line is perhaps the most delicate of the piece, given the noted manner in which poor Cyril's destiny saw him placed in a rather inconspicuous corner of that Gnadenberg Zion Lutheran Church cemetery.

Then I found Chester Osborn's Youtube clip d'Arenberg - The Year Of The Horse. This shows a couple of hired Clydesdales hauling a dray through an unkempt mess of a vineyard which Chester says is the oldest Grenache in McLaren Vale.

"We haven't put any tractors in there at all, for the whole of the season," he tells camera. He mentions "the low CO2 output of horses" with no reference to their methane. One wonders what his tractor and machinery-loving father, d'Arry, would really think of Chester suggesting that "it's cheaper than hiring tractors and trailers and drivers," and that the trial may lead to the Osborns having to sell a few tractors. 

With d'Arenberg's 2,500-5,000 tonne crush, producing between a quarter-of-a-million and half-a-million cases of wine each year, one can only imagine just how many tractors Chester will need to sell. And whether d'Arry will get the job of stablehand for the cavalry of Clydesdales required. Max Schubert started out as a stable boy.

d'Arry and Chester Osborn have the wine press for lunch, July 2013 ... photo Philip White


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