“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 November 2014


The Fabulous Fordies of Boston Bay Wines, Eyre Peninsula, with their Winestate Pellenc Trophy for 2014 Australian and New Zealand Riesling of the Year. L-R: Tommy  Ford, Graham Ford, Brenton George, Mary Ford and Tony Ford. photo Philip White

Given Tony's skill in a seafood kitchen, and the fact that he's a very scary competitive boxer, it was a brave Sean Connolly to send seafood to our celebratory table, but no risk: there was general adoration all round. Put very simply, his new Sean's Kitchen restaurant in the Adelaide Casino is a beauty. The staff and repast were exemplary. 

Whitey says go. The Boston Bay Riesling will be on the list very soon.

In 1982 I bumped into Graham and another son Billy in the kitchen of the mega-eccentric Clare winemaker Rick Robertson. Graham and Mary had swapped their Pacific salvage diving business for a life dodging white pointer sharks while they collected abalone in those sparkling waters most famous for their high incidence of, er, white pointer sharks. They day we met they were driving their first harvest to Sydney in the most garish Valiant panel van full of dry ice. I think it was lime green with black stripes.

When Fordie told me he'd bought some land right on the edge of Boston Bay, overlooking Boston Island, I vaguely recalled something from the diaries of French Revolutionary Council-sponsored explorers Captain Nicolas Baudin and his midshipman, Citizen Freycinet. The latter, who mapped Spencer Gulf, which Baudin named Golfe Bonaparte, also named Fordie's seaside slope the Côtes du Champagny, and the Bay, Port du Champagny, as it reminded him of the vast rolling plains of Champagne.

Two years later, I met Fordie in The Exeter. "I put that vineyard in," he said. I was dumbstruck by his audacity and trust. Doug Lehmann made the first wines at Basedows, and Premier John Bannon launched the first releases at Jolley's Boathouse in Adelaide. Then David O'Leary and Nick Walker took a liking to the fruit: they've been making the wine ever since. It's hand-picked into refrigerated pantechnicons and arrives in perfect condition at their Clare winery about ten hours later.

Over the years, I've taken some disbelieving ridicule from the Riesling gestapo for suggesting that the Boston Bay wines are worth high respect, and are sometimes as good as Riesling gets. "You only write about them because they're your mates," is the regular slight. So it's a sweet thing to see a totally independent panel of judges award this important gong to the Fordies, picking their 2014 from a throng of very much more famous Rieslings from two great Riesling producing countries. Halle-bloody-lujah!

Boston Bay Wines Eyre Peninsula Riesling 2014
$20; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94+ points

The purest essence of lemon and lime, with just a smudge of rose petal are the real perfumes here. As the glass warms you'll find buttery Anjou pear and ripening loquat, But I find I can never sniff a Boston Bay Riesling without recalling the bracing whiff of that remarkable, pristine coast with its bright fizzy water. It's transporting. The citric edge of the bouquet relaxes somewhat when you savour it: the texture is very much along the lines of that pear and loquat. Maybe honeydew. Intermingling neatly with the remains of that lime and lemon is a fine, drying layer of chalky tannin. The wine has a masterly balance and attitude, and is perfect drinking now. I love it with scallops off the flame grill, but hardcore Fordists will always push you into Tony's black Kinkawooka mussels with Pernod and fennel

He's a formidable chef and is quite capable of whacking opponents around a boxing ring, but the madcap Tony Ford has a wicked tendency to be Port Lincoln's own human cartoon, making hilarious video clips or impromptu piss-takes like this comment on a local tourism business as much as supermarket tuna which is not exactly fresh. If your brethren spend their lives dodging Great Whites at the bottom of the ocean, a swim in a cageful of tuna, even if they're actually alive, must seem a little tame. If you can handle a touch of the old pugilistic art, here are a couple of grabs of two of the Ford brothers, Bob and Tony (they're the little guys) knocking big blokes out for charity.

Boston Bay Eyre Peninsula Shiraz 2013
$22; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 90 pointers

While this comes from one of Australia's most remote southern vignobles, it reminds me very much of its cousins from the north-west Mediterranean coast, being a soft and satisfying red that's totally devoid of sophistry and pretense. In fact, it makes most of those Languedoc reds look a tad rough: maybe it's more like a riper Moulin-à-Vent Beaujolais. It's barefaced in its honest juiciness: chockers with sweet conserve of mulberry and prune but with a smooth peachy cream and a light dusting of tannin that brings the summer dust of Eyre Peninsula to mind. This contrast may seem unlikely, but it works. Tony's recommended dish is his Moroccan-crusted rib eye steak on spiced quince with a windy hill tapanade. I'd settle for that. There's plenty of dust in Morocco. Smooch.  

Looking north-west toward Eyre Peninsula from Kangaroo Island ... photo Philip White

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