“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)





11 November 2014


If you have a very special friend with an even more special thirst, consider A year in the life of Grange as a gift this festive season.

Self-published by the very brave Milton Wordley, who also took the photographs, and written by yours truly, this 100% Adelaide production has won numerous awards around the world.

A limited, hand-bound, numbered edition, it was designed by John Nowland and edited by Sally Marden.

Milton Wordley, the author and designer John Nowland checking proofs at the excellent Finsbury Green printing house ... photo Peter Fisher
Milton's photographs follow a timeline through a year in the life of Australia's greatest wine, from the picking through the fermentation and commitment to barrel, at which point Peter Gago and his team engage in a busy period of international travel, promotion and tastings of the wine made five years previous. Various historic tastings of back vintages are also recorded.

With Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago at the launch of A year in the life of Grange in the original Grange cellars at Magill ... photo Darren Clements
As Milton photographed Grange creator Max Schubert on numerous occasions since the 'seventies, there are also very rare historical photographs.

My text covers the story of Grange, starting with an introduction to my dear friend and mentor, Max , and carries on through the year of harvesting, making, maturing and promoting and selling the wine. The text explains Max's initial inspiration and design of the wine, its recipe and philosophy, and discusses how, through thick and thin, this remarkable drink has grown in stature since its first commercial release with the 1952 vintage.

Max Schubert (1915-1994) in his blending den ... photo Milton Wordley

We also make special reference to the brilliant wine scientist, Ray Beckwith, who virtually invented modern winemaking with his 1936 discovery of the importance of pH in preventing the bacterial spoilage of wine; before that it was common for winemakers to dump or distill vast volumes of bad wine. Ray gave Max his job as chief winemaker at Penfolds Magill, and lived for over a century. The DVD which comes with the book includes my last interview with Ray, and rare footage of Max taking the visitor around his Grange cellars at Magill.

Ray Beckwith at 100 years of age ... photo Milton Wordley

In his coverage of those who drink Grange, Milton traveled the USA to share a glass and photograph the collector and winemaker Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of TOOL, and Allen Toussaint, the wine-loving master of New Orleans piano at Dr Bob de Bellevue's regular Grange lovers' dinner. He also followed Peter Gago around the States on his exhausting promotional and tasting circuit.

Grange collector, Caduceus winemaker, and lead singer in TOOL, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan meets Ray Beckwith's famous pH meter at Magill ... photo Philip White (not from the book)

A year in the life of Grange is big - it's tabloid - and it's brilliantly printed on thick archival paper by Finsbury Green and hand-bound and stitched in silk by Adelaide master craftsmen at Chasdor.

Other than granting us access to its properties and use of its trademarks, Treasury Wine Estates, owner of Penfolds, had no involvement in the making and publication of this book. Neither entity had any editorial or financial involvement whatsoever.   

A Lalique lamp shade? Nope. This is Don Oliver's 2012 McLaren Vale Shiraz getting a pump-over in the Grange cellars at Magill ... the Olivers regularly make the coveted Grange cut ... their family has been growing grapes on the same Taranga property for 174 years ... photo Milton Wordley
Our first gong came from the American Publishers Awards book fair in New York City, where we were awarded the silver medal in the vast Coffee Table Books category. They gave us a gold medal, too. I won another in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for Best Australian Wine History, and then Milton went off to Beijing to collect the Best In The World Wine Book Photography award at the Gourmand Wine and Cook Book Fair. Some enterprising soul pinched the copy on display there.

For more information, and a solid preview of the photographs, text and DVD, check Milton's website. You can even buy a book there.

The author and Milton with our American Independent Publishers Awards medals ... they're bigger and heavier than anything handed out at Australian wine shows! ... photo Gail Gago

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