“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)





19 February 2015


Oakridge Meunier 2014 
$26; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points 

It's very late and I've been listening to too much Chet Baker and I've been nursing this bottle for two days, trying to make it last longer than Chet ever looked like lasting, or possibly could, although he lasted longer than anybody expected. And he invented the thing we call cool. Truly. You know why I'm dragging it out so long like this? Because it's a beautiful cool sensuous thing, and it teases and teases with its wicked bleeding flesh and the way it makes me pucker and my mouth wince with disbelief. It has the grape smells. You know, real ripe blueberry and crême de cassis and some of the other things we by rote expect of good red wine. But it also has that sicko bilious curl, the amino acid twist, the bits that somehow put more human naughtiness than you would expect was possible into your glass. There's not much tannin, but pure relentless pink human flesh that's so frank and accurate and honestly disarming you can taste the salty blood just beneath the skin. I put the glass down, and wait, and try again, and yep, impossibly, all those delicious things happen again. Get into bed with the human that tastes best to you and share it. Trust Unca Phil. You'll have to really screw the winery to squeeze a bottle out of there, but I know they still have some. Bugger 'em. Make threats. And line up for next year. Pity they don't say where it comes from. The winery's in the Yarra Valley. But nearly all the Pinot meunier I know of in Australia grows at Great Western.

FOOTNOTE #1: Winemaker David Bicknell tells me this is all Yarra Valley fruit: "Southern and higher. Two vineyards in this brew. Willowlake (1980) and Beenak (1990?). Traditionally went to fizz." 

FOOTNOTE #2: Viv Thomson once gave me a bottle of his Best's Wines Pinot Meunier 1967, his favourite vintage, which I took to share with that Champenoise champion of the grape, my friend, the late Henri Krug. As all his Meunier went into the glorious Krug Champagne, he'd never seen anything like this sensual dry red beauty. Henri had the greatest palate I've encountered. He shook his head for about an hour over that bottle. It blew him away. Keep at it, David!

Andrew Peace Wines The Unexpected Shiraz 2014 
$18; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points 

Also from the Victoria side of the border but up the Murray Valley way, this is a little like the above, but in the thicker Shiraz manner. It has all the same business going on, but with the added attraction of aniseed balls and some rude barely cured black Iberian ham. And that old white pepper tin you found at your granny's when you were cleaning her joint out. It's black and dangerously sensual but it has a slightly sinister air, like there may be crocs outside on the back lawn if you plan to sneak home that way, indicating you're no longer at your granny's. I mean big hungry prehistoric reptiles with teeth, not plastic shoes. That's too much about the smell; let's have a schlück. Yep. Lickety-slick sensuous silky thin skin and that bloody bleeding flavour that's almost more human than grape. Well done, Andrew Peace Wines. I really didn't expect this from your neck of the desert. And  thankyou for sending two bottles. I abused the first one attempting to assuage my disbelief. Kept that one open for days and it just sat there looking me in the eye til it was all inside of me. Stared me out. Haven't even got down to the top of the label on the second one and I'm convinced. Suckered. And you know what, dear drinker? This wine has no preservatives, like no sulphur at all. It's what they call "vegan-friendly," which scares me well off if I eventually bother to read the label. I don't even know any rabbits that are vegans. But maybe that's the secret. This would go perfectly well with stewed rabbit. Shoot it, dress it, quarter it and poach it in red wine with a bunch of fresh green herbs and some juniper berries and a few big chunks of the beautiful sugar-cured smoked pig fat you will find on the edge of the kassler Max Noske makes in his butchery at Hahndorf. Best kassler in the world. 

Dodgy Brothers McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2013 
$28; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 90++ points 

This is a bit like both the above wines, but you can't really tell because it's a lot stronger in the ethanol sector and it has OAK that I can smell and taste which I'm sure adds a dollar or three to that spend. If you're a conventional colonial boyo of any sex who drinks Jack or Jim with Coke and you have your glass of red with a slice of Bega Tasty Cheddar I'm sure you will appreciate this more than either of the above naughty sensualities. Like bourbon, this is all about wood and the other two aren't. It has a toasty, sappy piqant edge with bits of eucalyptus and wattle bark, but it also has rather schmick fruit below that. Which is why I kinda like it. However. GSM, which this wine does not claim to be, but is, was a name invented at the Rosemount winery in McLaren Vale back when I was only middle aged. It was a lab abbreviation which some marketing genius spotted on a blending bench and turned into a whole friggin genre which became a recipe for the entire industry in the sense that blending mindlessly happened, henceforth, always in that descending order: Grenache, Shiraz then Mourvedre. I think you'll find that if you have Grenache worth the drinking, you'll now be selling it successfully as Grenache. Mourvedre, also known as Mataro or sometimes Monastrelle, is also now appearing brilliantly on its little ol' ownsome, like in the Dodgy Bros. version I recommended here some time back. Neither variety needs the helpful (for the grower and winemaker) wadding of the over-abundant Shiraz in the middle. So I hope those of you who still like that GSM thing will buy this artisanal version of it and love it knowing that the huge Rosemount winery that invented the recipe is in mothballs and nobody even works there anymore. Finito. Enjoy.

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