“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)





17 April 2014


photo Gus Howard


After the twisty reactions triggered by the author's thoughts on the orange wines  served at the recent event at which he presented the Howard Twelftree Award, perhaps it's time to admit some history. 

Here he is - late Devo epoch - holding a white balance for producer/director/cinematographer Gus Howard soon after sunrise at The Steingarten in the High Barossa in the mid-eighties. You can see the thin line of the vineyard coming out of the author's head. It was one of the early morning starts shooting the first export promotional film for the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, now called Wine Australia.

Not long after this the author swung in the back higher gate in the old Police Holley Hemi V8 Val with nervous/frightened winemakers Ron Laughton and Graeme Leith, only to interrupt some Orlando vineyard blokes studiously cutting the vines off at the roots with a very efficient mechanical pruner: one of the first the author had seen. The good workers said they'd been told to clean the vineyard out; yields were too low. It took a mighty tantrum in the Steingarten and a fast blast down the hill to MD Guenther Prass's office at Rowland Flat to get that destruction stopped. It had been a vineyard management decision. Guenther claimed he didn't know. 

One trusts that what they left of the Steingarten's still there.

For more information about the seventies Orange movement, click here. To tune your browser to the point where the DRINKSTER's attire is most accurately coloured, just twist the knobs till that piece of paper turns pure white. 

It's a kind of filtration.

That seventies Orange thing, the author felt, deserved a living piss-take of the randy rich dills in that very strange movement. How could you measure their success? By their desertions? 

How powerful is the new Orange People? One can hardly see somebody as straight down the line as Max Allen ever bleeding his followers to buy himself 93 Rolls Royces, like the Bhagwan did of his original mob of Orange followers. Not at all. Max might buy one, but they'll never have the money nor the greed for a fleet. 

Will cloudy orange wines take over the world? No. They don't have to. To paraphrase a bit of what Max said in his rousing speech, they were here from the start. They have been here since somebody first put rotting fruit in a bowl. They will always be here, somewhere. 

But we know how to make better wines. Even after the Armageddons to come, somebody will remember the anti-rot advantages of brimstone, and the clarifying capacity of the sieve.

A bright young Croser may come again. 

Maybe it'll be someone respectful of the Colin Gramp who put that Steingarten there with explosives fifty years back. Colin's desire for finer, brighter wines brought on the brilliant Rieslings he made in those days. He's getting very old, but when he pulls one of his good fifties or sixties out, one rises immediately above the clouds.

As for the author's Orange Lodge involvement? Well, that's a private Protestant issue. 

Beware of active Red Handers.

Perfect fruit box art portraying the active hand caught red, or orange: This image is by the great Ben Sakoguchi, from his Orange Crate Label Series


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