“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 December 2014


Dodgy Bros. Rosé 2014 
$18; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 160 six-packs made; 87 points 

Peter Bolte, McLaren Vale viticulturer, is the original Dodgy Bro. His family's been farming in McLaren Vale almost since the day they stepped off the HMS Buffalo into the mud of Port Misery in 1836. Canadian winemaker Wes Pearson came next. He'd been working at Château Léoville Las Cases in Bordeaux before he decided McLaren Vale was more along his line. To counterbalance his revolutionary dodginess he's now a sensory scientist at the Wine Research Institute. Local grapegrower Peter Somerville completes the unholy trinity. This rosé is made from the run-off of their exemplary Grenache Shiraz Mataro red blend: the Dodgies used the old saignée technique of bleeding some juice off the red fermenter before it picked up too much phenolic tannin and colour. This makes what's left in the tank darker and more complex, and leaves the winemaker with another handy tank of pink stuff. So, no sooner had I slighted makers of cloudy wine by attributing all such retro murk to spaced-out hippy winemakers when this Dodgy bugger slid up my nose and across my laughing gear and straight down my little red lane. It's 70% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 10% Mataro, and it's bright translucent raspberry in colour. It has an acrid aromatic topnote that reminds me of the Willunga slate quarry on a very hot day and below that a swirl of raspberry, redcurrant, wild cherries and blood orange. The wine is fatter in the mouth than such elegant perfumes signal: it feels like a full-bodied red. Wes says he went for full solids ferment and a higher pH than has been fashionable since the 1930s, in order to attain more satisfactory phenolic interactions and mouthfeel. He then bottled the wine without filtration. So have it at cellar temperature if you don't love the skinny nature of most rosés. If you chill it, or pour it over a big ice block, that chubby texture drops a few kilos leaving you with an almost tart bone dry drink with tannins that bring me back to the dust of that quarry. Cloudy but fine. Maybe it's time to smoke a rabbit to eat cold. Otherwise, smoked salmon on rye, green olives, goat cheese, caper berries: you know the drill. 

Dodgy Bros. Mataro 2013 
$29; 13.8% alcohol; screw cap; 130 six-packs made; 93++ points 

This beauty's from the Kurrajong, my favourite McLaren Vale geology for wine flavours. It's a rubble that fell from the ranges to the east of the Willunga Fault. I had to beg a second bottle of this from the Dodgies: tasteful marauders sank the first one before I could sharpen a quill. Blackpepper, gun oil, carbon, cordite, the blacksmith's forge: all the classic aspects of Mataro are here, adding that cheeky nose tickle to the satisfying swoon of blackberry, mulberry and ripe juniper below. The palate see-saws between those tantalising counterpoints of tease and ease: hard black things and soft; anthracite and silk; rock AND roll. It's a touch more slender, but it reminds me very much of the Penfolds Barossa Mataro 2010 that won the big best red in the world at the London Wine Trade Fair. That should save me from trying to explain more about its wonder and mystique. It seems to lead to an abandonment of good manners, as manifest by the brutes who demolished my first bottle. Bring me a haunch of venison with a pot of steaming beets. Please. 

Kaesler The Fave Barossa Valley Grenache 2014
 $25 (cellar-door only); 15% alcohol; screw cap; 93+ points 

Earlier in this fast laborious year, tasting in the Kaesler cellar, winemaker Stephen Dew produced a barrel sample of a Grenache that really coloured my brains in. It was bright, audacious and rich, and it came from the 1893 plantings just outside the door. Now it's in this here bottle, and the brain crayons are back. It's a rich, plush aroma without being too gloopy: rather than a jam, a conserve of prune, morello cherry and mulberry. Those fifteen alcohols weren't apparent in the barrel I tried, and they're a little slow emerging in this final limited volume blend. Only after a goodly schlück does that hot whispering afterbreath give it away. Feels like some smouldering raven-haired beauty just told you a secret. It's nearly all silk as far as texture and mouthfeel extend; there's just a dusting of very fine tannin to tell you another glass will be in order quite soon. It'll handle a few minutes in the ice bucket if the days are hot, but it's doing a damn good job of shiverin me timbers right now at rain-on-the-roof temperature. The excellent lemony saltimbocca at Amalfi comes sharply to mind about half-way down glass # 2. Previous to that, it was pretty much all highly satisfied wonderment. Like highly. This wine alone is a very good excuse to visit the excellent cellar near Nuriootpa - you won't find it anywhere else. You can even sleep there if you're very good and you book ahead.  

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