“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)


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15 January 2015

BELLEVUE RELEASES DRY GATOR


Bellevue Estate McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013
$19; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points

Corey Vandeleur makes this velvet fist from his family's vineyard in the main street of McLaren Vale. It's in the limestone right opposite Nigel Rich's incredible Elbow Room restaurant in the end of town that was originally called Bellevue. It's now become an annual ritual, Corey calling me to ask whether it'd be okay for him to drop a bottle off. Okay's hardly the word. He brings it to my place and we drink it. Simple. Along with the Torzi-Matthews/Longhop/Old Plains offerings from the Barossa Ranges makers, Dominic Torzi and Tim Freeland, the Bellevue brand consistently represents the best bang per buck this taster sees each year. I review it adoringly; people are disbelieving; then it'll go on to win gongs and bling and accolades all over the place. Popular scoffing follows the "it can't be that good if it's this cheap" philosophy. I took some flack for my grovelling rave about the 2012 model, just for example, but it then went on to win the Edinburgh Hotel's yearly Shiraz Challenge, where your actual punters vote for their favourite. Which was in order, really, considering the previous few vintages had been runners-up. Corey says part of his success is the fault of his consultant, Dusty the Birdsville baker, who uses Bellevue Shiraz in his world famous Camel and Shiraz Pies. As there's not too much along the lines of new French oak going down in Birdsville, Corey reckons Dusty's the best bloke to tell him when each vintage is ready to come out of wood. Dusty also drives the Birdsville ambulance, simply because he's usually the bloke with the least number of beers in him. He drinks a bit slower than the rest, apparently. Which might begin to explain the success of those patented pies. Anyway, this is less silky than other recent vintages. It's more soulful and muddy, a bit like the best Shiraz of Langhorne Creek. It reminds me of Ry Cooder's sinister, snaky slide soundtracks in Southern Comfort and Paris, Texas. But this one's not the usual shiny blackness of swamp vipers - it's more matte in its finish, like a dry alligator. As I set out to say, it's more velvet than silk. And mark my word, this wine will become a legendary schl├╝ck as the years wind by. It's Corey's best shot yet.   

Corey Vandeleur's hand ... the velvet touch, see?

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