“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)





26 November 2014


After my previous piece about Australia copying the Old World and charging top-end Old World prices, up popped two lovely dirt-cheap wonders that don't mimic anything. 
In fact, they both represent a very welcome large change:

A Small Change White 2014 
$18; 12.8% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points 

Rhys Howlett's Small Change looks like joining the Torzi/Matthews/Freeland/Long Hop/Old Plains lot at the forefront of my hot/real/bargain/delicious/handmadewonderfulness/shedster vinotariat. Both these brave determined stables are the enemy of Australia's vino-industrial complex. The new Spare Change releases are a perfect affirmation of the confident off-the-wall quality that Rhys established with his previous launch. At Hungry Dan's prices, we get audacious wines of the original Rockford quality. This white is made from that much-abused and misunderstood thing, Langhorne Creek Verdelho. There are many more pretentious whites made from more glamourous varieties that attempt to offer this kind of bouquet at two or three times this money - many in those price ranks are nowhere near this wholesome and tantalising. It's free of intrusive oak and other currently common sophistries like hairy yeast. Ripe Rocha pears, fresh mace and the pith of lemons and strawberries all swim happily around the glass, making my nostrils flare and my mouth dribble towards a yellow curry made from the delicious European carp. Even the rice should be saffron yellow. The texture is modest - not too slimy; not too sharp - while those elegant, buttery Rocha flavours offer comfort as much as titillation. The finish is langourous and burlap-dry and hangs about long enough for you to fully realise just how lucky you are.  Half way down glass #3, visions of spaghetti vongole come to mind, and the whiff of the Cockle Beach at CafĂ© Bombora. I'm a goner. 

PS: I just discovered that this contains 7% Adelaide Hills Gewurztraminer and all the Verdelho comes from 80 year old vines. Click for clip.

A Small Change Red 2014 
$18; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points

Merlot, Cabernet franc, Grenache and Shiraz from Clare and Langhorne Creek be here. So before I let it near my gustatories, it's already pleasing: Franc and Merlot are my favourite varieties from Bordeaux; I've long dreamed of blending Merlot with Grenache, and the idea of mixing the dry austerity of Clare with the humid estuarine moodiness of Langhorne Creek is as tantalising as it is calmly logical. Now, let's go in there. Wow! What a dark tunnel of perfume it is: beautifully smooth and harmonious, with too many components to list in the usual blackberry/wild cherry/fig/beetroot manner, although I can see seductive wisps of all those in there. It's like a new grape, or one of those scarce beauties with red juice, like Saperavi. Maybe Colorino. Let's just say it smells confoundingly, magnetically black. Kiwi Parade Gloss Prestige on the gros-grain tux collar. Then, it's a tighter thing to drink than that bouquet led me to expect: as slender and silky as graphene, with little of the fleshy pudge I anticipated. This, er, shall we say 'change of gear?' is no disappointment, however. It does the opposite, cheering the gustatories and setting the mouth glands dribbling. To over-simplify it, a rich Langhorne Creek bouquet leads to a tight, olivine Clare palate. Like that Verdelho, it is a wine of its own, and cannot be called a copy of anything. It is a beautiful, appetising Australian invention. In the international buzz, I hear indications of the return of the old Beaujolais Nouveau nonsense. They should forget it. Inventive current vintage reds like this, and my landlord's Yangarra PF Shiraz, have rendered all such notions a waste of time and a ridiculous transport extravagance. What a lovely notion! As for food, I'm happy without it. This wine is entertainment enough.  

Click for clip and here for Twitter   

1 comment:

Topo said...

Tried and admired!!!