“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)





25 September 2014


Vasse Felix Margaret River Filius Chardonnay 2013
$27; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 88 points 

The standard 'entry-level' Vasse has been given a fresh name since the incorporation of new vineyards and the completion of an eight-year program of rejuvenation of the original vines. Hazelnuts, cashew, cinder toffee, butterscotch and buttery Comice pear make up a fairly traditional Australian-style premium Chardonnay bouquet, more after the clunky old Mountadam style than skinny, modern Mildura. The palate is lush and luxurious, with precise acid and a splinter of fancy French oak, somewhere between lemony and gingery. It'd be lovely with scallops grilled on their shells with little shreds of mandarin peel then garnished with fresh spring onions. 

Vasse Felix Margaret River Chardonnay 2013
 $37; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 92++ points

This new inclusion in the range - everybody who's anybody must have at least three Chardonnays in their arsenal these days - is made after what the blurb calls 'the modern Margaret River style.' So what does this mean? I think it's a bit like Penfolds Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay in spirit: toward medium-bodied Burgundy in style and weight, with finesse rather than force. It smells of the coffee rock of the region, rainwet. It has that flinty/carbide/cordite/gunpowder edge that many call "minerality" or sometimes "reduced" - both terms which confuse me. Its oak is gingery and prickly, its acid like lemon pith. It looks a little brash and awkward in this its juvenile stage: if you can't wait a few years, I'd be decanting it. It has the sharps that could handle mild pork dishes, like well-roast belly cuts, a la The Elbow Room in McLaren Vale. 

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Margaret River Chardonnay 2013
$70; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points

Even more pointy and pushy, this punk opens with a sharp cordite poke. You'd think a brat with that much cordite would simply shoot you in the guts, but no, it's a nervous jab in the general direction of the kisser. After that, the aggro settles: its fruit is creamy and slightly stewy, like pears and peaches poaching gently together. Your assailant has come down off his toes and does the big grovel here. "Sorry sorry sorry - this hurts me a lot more than it hurts you!" The mid-palate is smooth and well assimilated for a drink of such complexity and so many selected components. It leaves the mouth cleansed - its acidity is forceful - but coated with a layer of that poaching syrup. And then the aggro bits return to dominate: grainy phenolic dryness (bauxite?) works the mouth long long after swallowing, setting the salivaries on full gush and imbuing the guzzler with a desperate sense of thirst and hunger. More please. With the cheese trolley from Les Crayères in Reims. Biffo!

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