“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)





06 November 2014


Inkwell Blonde on Blonde McLaren Vale Viognier 2014
$25; 12.9% alcohol; screw cap; 91 points

It seems that a few Australian winemakers have reached a new level of appreciation of Viognier, which had fallen from favour and almost entirely disappeared from its home in France by the time the quirky Peter Wall decided it would become Yalumba's top white nearly thirty years ago. Now, with wines like the sublime Castagna Ingénue 2013, we see an enlightened change of gear. Here's another example: heady with a sort of royal oiliness that reminds me of avocado, but with balancing, paler flesh, with aromas and flavours like a salad of carambola, cherimoya and sapodilla. Such wines are moving the variety from a Chardonnay alternative made pretty much to be like an ordinary Chardonnay canned with thicker syrup by a different mob to a true alternative in the sense of radical departure. I know it's the wrong album, but you really "don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." To pause a mo on His Bobness's Blonde on Blonde, sooner or later one of us must know that while this wine is no idiot wind it's clearly blowing from somewhere else. It has that subtle confident oiliness that caresses and soothes the mouth rather than rinsing or bleaching it, but it never begins to paint and coat it to the point of sealing it from the weather. Rather, its fatty acid unction is calming and satisfying, and provokes no urgent hunger, a famishing quality I usually like in wine. So what does it make me wanna do, other than snooze? It makes me put it back in the fridge and begin the careful construction of a red pork curry. Which is a contradiction, but who cares? I'm glad that Dudley Brown came from California to settle on California Road, by our sparkling Gulf, to get on with this here business. He's a welcome blot on our landscape.

Dudley and Dr Irina Santiago-Brown's wedding day ... the bridal waltz, in fact ... see that ironstone in front of the stage? That used to be Pirramimma sandstone until so much ferruginous water washed through it that it pretty well turned to iron ... I think it gives rusty galvo shed in summer aromas and soft tannins ... photos Philip White
Inkwell I & I McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 
$30; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points

Maybe it's the vineyard's proximity to the Gulf St Vincent (patron of viticulturers) that has soothed this wine to a more mellow state than the mighty 2012s made in regions further from such calming Mediterranean humidity; perhaps it's Dudley Brown's increasing wisdom as grower and maker who understands his geology. I reckon it's both. Whatever. This is a rich dense syrup of prune and pickled morello cherries with a drying topnote that's as much soft-and-pithy Ditters dried apple as the chalky clay and ferruginous sandstone of the site. In the Vales, sandstone often seems to impart more morello and rusty shed, while the rare bits of chalky calcrete give tighter, less humourous, Coonawarra-like tannins. But that's the bouquet. In the mouth the wine is more typical twelve. It's long and intense and bone dry with the sort of fine tannin that will carry it for the year or two it will take for its lovely fruit juice to properly swell and cushion those perfectly natural grapeskin and pip preservative phenolics. Right now, I'd love the opportunity to have it with numerous spoonsful of ripe Stilton. Which is how my mate Max Schubert preferred to take a younger Grange. 

Inkwell Perfect Day McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012
$40; 14.6% alcohol; screw cap; 94+++ points

A touch more new French oak in the barrel selection and a dab of the Calabrian Primitivo has given this wine more smug carbon darkness right from the start. It has everything the I & I projects, but in a more authoritative and monumental form. Like the stony faces of Easter Island or the Sphynx, it's gonna take a long time for its countenance to weather and fall. There's intensely compressed and ultra-smooth fruit in the bouquet, but that's only the beginning. Think of melting iron in a limeburner's kiln and you're beginning to get close. Take a schlück and the gums and cheeks wince hungrily, reaching for the dribbling pink steak and a stack of field mushrooms in butter and lemon, with a reduction of this wine, barely-ground black peppercorns and cream, all over the top. This is not for vegan diets. But it is a ravishing thing. While it's dedicated to Lou Reed and named after one of his most childishly hopeful songs, I reckon that at this baby stage it's a lot more Metal Machine Music on vinyl. It's the sort of wine I'd prefer to drink in quadrophonic headphones. Clunk. Hiss. Schlurp. Chew. Choof. Chill with a grin. 

Inkwell Road to Joy McLaren Vale Shiraz Primitivo 2012 
$25; 14.6% alcohol; screw cap; 85++ points 

Instead of just the dribble of Primitivo that's in the Perfect Day, this mutha's on fifteen per cent. It seems to give the Shiraz a neat set of black fingernails and its twenty-hole Docs a layer of Parade Gloss. The wine is silky smooth with an illusion of sweetness, and as it comes from the sandstone bit of the patch it's all black gean cherries with barely a hint of the tight Coonawarra-like tannin the calcrete in the Ngaltinga clays impart. Which you pronounce like gnat, with an L. So we have here a swift, slick, highly-polished punk who's so clean and sophisticated (in the original sense of the word) that you wonder why it's not perched at the bar in a little black cocktail dress and matching patent Manolo Bila double-strap copies with the kneefucker heels. Polish them nails.

Inkwell Infidels McLaren Vale Primitivo 2013 
$30; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 80 points

This wine looks like it just stepped out of a Tom Waits song. You know the skinny white street preacher with the string tie and dirty collar who hits the goonbag port, turns black from gutter grime and puts on about twenty stone. On the first sniff - "scuse me while I, well ... I'm gonna sniff you ... you know, like for the diabetes" - it's hard to tell whether he's gonna shrink back to a beanpole when he swaps over to the meths and his liver disappears and he up and dies in a jangly shiver, or whether he's gonna see the light of God's grace, get back on the water and repossess his former angular countenance on the better side of the apex so he can splatter the pedestrians with a little more hot gospel. That might seem confusing to the unreached zinners, zinfidels and primitivos in the Star Wars Blah down the lane at the Land of Promise Hotel, but they're all cut from the same grape, which for want of a grasp of the Aramaic we'll call Zinfandel. Lost souls might not be aware that Zin, which is a lot more appropriate a name than Prim, coz it's just not, is an ornery Calabrian grape which a bloke never knows when to pick on account of it having big ripe red berries like balloons full of sugar and sweet arterial blood sitting in the same bunch as little bitter green bastards like lentils and some lost at various illogical milestones along the way. Butchew know what? I sniff it again and it's come over all polite and contrite and while it remains on the dark side it seems to wind back to the days when the poor soul's addiction to the Devil's Brew was only beginning and you could still see his bones and he could go about forty minutes on the Beasts of Revelations without raising a sweat. And now dammit he's stolen a cornflower blue 59 Caddy and turned into a door-to-door perfume salesman with slick-back hair. Time to lock up your wife. Honey, take the kids inside.

Whitey the preacher by Stacey Pothoven-Vice     


Simon Burnell said...

I feared falling back into a committable state if I read all that.

Originial Zinner said...

8/10? High points for Zin, coming from you Whiteman?

Kon Vert said...

what can Zin do that Colorino doesn't more easily?

brer verve said...

yo nuts whitey