“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)





15 May 2014


Dominique Portet Origine Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
$45; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points 

It seems like only yesterday that the young Frenchman, Dominique Portet, was excitedly promoting his first Taltarni Cabernet around Melbourne. He'd come from Bordeaux, found himself some cool upland in Victoria's Prenees, and got his nose to the winestone. Goodness me. That was 1976. Start again. It seems like only yesterday that the middle-aged Frenchman, Dominique Portet, was excitedly promoting his new Yarra Valley Cabernet around Melbourne; suggesting the Yarra had what he'd always wanted and sought after in the Pyrenees, which he'd now left. Goodness me, that was 2000. And now we see Dominique and son Ben bringing us another Pyrenees Cabernet cryptically provenanced as being 'crafted from hand-picked grapes from an iconic elevated old-vine Pyrenees vineyard'.  This is bright, intense, happy Cabernet, pretty with blackcurrant and violet and alluringly fresh and vibrant. It's alive! And it's elegant, and it makes me smile, and makes me think of juicy lamb cutlets with reduced spinach and a hearty mash with radish and raw onion chopped in at the end ... it's a wine that makes me want to laugh and chatter away as if there was no tomorrow ... 

Dominique Portet Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 
$48; 13.5% alcohol; cork; 89+ points 

All the pretties that we often expect of Cabernet: the allegedly 'lifted' - 'lifted'? 'Lifted' from where? - aromas of violets and lavendar, are not quite so prominent in this wine. Maybe somebody else 'lifted' them and took them somewhere else ... I mean they're there, but they're wrapped in wholesome secondary complexities like tea tin and leather, which is a delight and a relief, given those low alcohols. It could have been a brash green thing, after all. Instead, it's a smug, complex wine of a certain old-fashioned style. The palate is slender and complex and well-formed and balanced, making this one of those wines you can happily sit and ponder all by yourself, even if there are other folks at the table. Ask yourself whether it was worth paying an extra $3 for the cork, and whether it's the cork alone that brings that old-fashioned, slightly oxidised whimsy to your glass. And of course it is ... now you know why you've come over all quiet! The Portuguese hi-jacked your  pretties with that damned bark plug.

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