“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)





31 July 2014


Tim Smith Wines Barossa Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2013
$28; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94+ points

 Smithy loves the deep Mataro-dominant wines of Bandol, on France's sunny Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Toulon. It's called Mourvèdre there. Close your eyes, and a bottle of this works nearly as well as a plane ticket. I do believe I can smell the red Sahara blowing in across the ocean and a warm waft of Provence lavendar coming in from the other side. In the middle, it's all deep and glowering and chocolaty with a blacksmithed vortex that sucks at the helpless traveller. I don't mean to lay it on too thick, but the farther in you go it actually smells more and more like the leather apron of the smithy, with all that glowing coke and red soft steel ringing away on the anvil. It's as prickly and acrid as much as blackberry pie. The palate is sublimely fine, slippery and supple after all that sinister gravity, with just a whisper of very fine coal-dusty tannin. It seems there are no edges to cling to. Which suits me, especially if there's a stack of big field mushrooms and black russian tomatoes steaming on the toast, dribbling beneath a shiny port and cream reduction, black pepper everywhere. This makes surrender a delight. It's a third the price of a good Bandol, and a tiny fraction of the cost of that air ticket. Be quick! Sublime in as many ways as I can think, and believe me, my sodden old brain has spread so wide it's dribbling off the edges of the plate. PS After 30 hours with the cap off, a lot more primary fruit (raspberry, sweet cherry) oozed outa this, sending me even further down the hole.

Tim Smith Wines Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2012
 $85; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94+++ points 

The penny-wise red perve might well wonder how the extra spend can buy a mere brace of plus symbols, but given that perfect seal and the sheer intensity of this fruit, each of those little symbols indicates another decade of increasing delight. It's all blackberry and anvil again, but darker and deeper, and it seems to make standing impossible, its gravity being overwhelming. It's unctuous and viscous and devilishly slick; long and lingering and reluctant to leave, and it's one of the only things with the power to bring you straight back from Bandol to the best of the top Barossa in a magical snap. Now that Smithy finally has himself his own proper winery in Beckwith Park, he seems to have found a bold new confidence. I think that even in their infancy these two reds are his best release yet. Which is saying something. See? I didn't mention one motorcycle! A triumph.PS As with the above delight, this one changed a lot in 30 hours, but it seemed to grow more Mataro-like charcuterie meat than your actual primary fruit. That makes it more moody and glowering. Give it another triumph:

top photo Philip White bottom photo Stephen White

Tim Smith Wine Eden Valley Viognier 2014
$28; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points

Just to blow my blacksmith theory clear into Kingdom Come, Smithy's lobbed this beautifully perfumed Viognier at us. It seems to me to rewrite the Vio volume, especially in the High Barossa: I don't recall any other so fine and alluring, without losing the raw, almost feral nature of this very tricky grape. This one seems imbued with the fatty, estery carboxylic acid aromas of wax. Think palmitic acid, which gives both mother's milk and napalm their comforting aromas. It also smells of the lactones and linalyl butyrate that give white peaches their delicate buttery fragrance. It does NOT smell of apricot. In direct contrast, like the best high Barossa whites, it also has that edgy terroir whiff you'll sniff when you smash a lump of dry Kanmantoo Group schist with a hammer. That's common rock up that way. The wine's suitably unctuous and almost fluffy of texture, a character which you can see increase as your glass warms if you've served it too cold. The flavours are certainly peachy, but only white peach. And then there's that appetising rise of very fine phenolic tannins that the best Viogniers sport. In this case, they're slightly bitter, along the lines of Momordica charantia, the bitter melon. It reminds me a little of a very early release of Hill Smith Estate Viognier (around 2000), which was similar, and went just deliciously with a yellow curry I made from the greasy European carp: that bitterness counteracts the buttery, fatty nature of the coconut and fish, while the butyric (buttery) bits harmonise with the same components perfectly. If you take that advice, you'd probably give it higher points than I've squeezed, drinking it unaccompanied. Which makes me think it would also go swimmingly with crusty white bread and bloody big lumps of Paris Creek butter. Ten minutes later: I just realised I possessed both those latter ingredients and gave it a try.  Fuck it's good!

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