“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)





21 August 2014


Yelland & Papps Devote Barossa Valley Roussanne 2013
 $35; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 90 points 

Among the many fascinating white varieties of Mediterranean France, Australia has for years pursued a fickle flirtation with only three of them: Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. We have made few notable Viogniers, which is a tricky, mostly misunderstood quirk of a grape, and even  fewer good Marsannes, which as a variety seems notable only for its forgettable nature. Roussanne, however, is coming off a little better, in spite of it enjoying about the same general level of winemaker's understanding as Viognier. For its lowish alcohol, this is a biggish style of wine: quite viscous, almost oily, like the syrup from a jar of preserved quinces, with maybe a clove in there somewhere. Grown by the Materne family in the rolling country north-east of Greenock, the wine has been basket-pressed, barrel-fermented (mainly old oak) left on lees in barrel and stirred twelve times over six months. Apart from that mish-mash of fruit syrups in its bouquet and flavour the wine has an alluring tweak of gingerbread in its aroma, and a long taper of lemony acid in its tail. That texture seems custom-cut for ginger chicken or a casserole of chicken with pickled lemon. Don't overchill it. 

Yelland & Papps Devote Barossa Valley Shiraz Roussanne 2012 
 $35; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 80 points

Putting aside the question of why you'd put Roussanne in Barossa Shiraz, let's see what the wine's like. That mish-mash of fruit syrups is even louder: it's like a big macerating compote of kirsch with all manner of red, blue and black berries, from maraschino cherries to bitter juniper. It's very slick and silky, and, like the Roussanne, sports a heavy viscosity you'd expect in wine of much greater alcohol. Like the nether regions above sixteen. I agree completely with the winemakers' suggestion that it's like rum'n'raisin chocolate, which reinforces my theory about expecting a higher alcohol. Kirsch and rum are highly aromatic flavours I don't expect in Shiraz or Roussanne, especially at a modest 13.5% alcohol. Dark chocolate often has a naturally bitter tinge; that's here too, in the long, lingering finish. Also from the Materne vineyard near Greenock, the wine is truly quirky, built for Old Jamaica chocolate addicts, or those who love the nature of big alcohol jammy Barossa reds, but would prefer lower alcohol. So what would I eat with it? Old Jamaica Rum'n'raisin chocolate would do just trimmingly if you're near a bed; if you want meats, go Park Lok or T-Chow twin pepper pork hotpot.

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