“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)





09 April 2015


Golden Grove Estate Granite Belt Joven Tempranillo 2014 
$24; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 90+ points

Tempranillo thrives in the high Spanish desert, where the ripening temperatures plunge from over 40C at noon to below zero at night and film crews hang about chewing cheroots in the wind and dust, making spaghetti westerns like My Name Is Trinity or Trinity Is Still My Name. You can hear the doo-wokka doo-wokka Morricone soundtrack. With that in mind, much Australian Tempranillo continues to surprise me, as the sites chosen to plant it bear no relation to that source terroir.

Australian vignerons never seem to think about stuff like this. Not a thought for the soundtrack. Not a poncho in sight. I mean they're confident enough to pinch the style and presume they can equal such ancient lines of wine with a bluff disregard for the geological, geographical, climatic and cultural majority of its provenance. I spose it's a bit like the Italians going to Spain to make American cowboy movies.

Yet the dear old Temp is forgiving and malleable: it seems to thrive at Maslin's Beach, for example, where that maritime diurnal range would be down to nearly zero comparitively. And now here's a real whizzer from the sub-tropical Queensland heights.

Joven means young, as in meant to drink like that. This baby has all the juniper berries and blackberries after the lightning and the electric fence spark of much more expensive imported versions, and while it's maybe a bit short in the primary fruit division it's lithe and intense and sits around your mouth like A Choo Choo Bar for fifteen minutes anyway. Get the chorizos and warm black olives and that black Spanish ham rockin and you could chug-a-lug this by the jug. I'd even risk the blasphemy allegations and say it'd make a really sick sangria. 

Golden Grove Estate Vintage Grand Reserve Granite Belt Nero d'Avola 2012
$45; 13.4% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points 

Even the winemaker's name finishes in O at Golden Grove. Winemaker Raymond Costanzo's grandparents started this outfit in 1946; he's taking over from his parents, Sam and Grace. The farm's 820 metres up in the granites around Ballandean Queensland. This is a much more refined slink of a drink than the two savage South Australian locals I've raved about, Fox Gordon and Kays. It's Grace Jones before, not after, the show. Those other two are afters.

Maybe it's as much the highland cool of the Granite Belt as the winemaking which polishes the lapels of this tux. It'll tickle and prickle your nostrils till they twitch, but it's polished to a sheen. Oh I see, you're not wearing a shirt. It's intense, and living up to its name, it has black a-plenty in a modern willowy frame. If it's fruitaveg references you want, let me suggest that like Blue Poles Teroldego 2012 - from an Alpine Italy grape now grown in Margaret River - it has a line of lovely dry olive leaf essence wrapped in all that silk and satin plush. But don't you worry about that. It's elegant, svelte, and lissom, with plenty of cracking natural acid and tannin as fine as a Tim Smith wine.

What? A decade of dungeon? Try it in five. No, we'll slurp it now. Bring me a wedge of caciacavello, please. Or an old pecorino with peppercorns. Or take me to Sicily. No, no, no ... don't worry about the shirt. Keep your jacket on. Forget the shirt. Just sit down. I'll get the cheese. 

Ballandean Estate Wines Messing About Granite Belt Malbec 2012 
$42; 14.3% alcohol; cork; 93 points

 Just between you and me, nobody's messing about here: this is Malbec at its stand-alone best. In form it somehow fits between the broad cuddly Malbec of Langhorne Creek and the tighter, more focused examples you'll find in Clare or Great Southern in Western Australia. Intense, taut juniper and blueberry light up the fragrance, with a tweak of lemony oak and a dusting of musky confectioner's sugar. There's blackberry and mulberry simmering way below.

The wine has a highly polished form. It's been worked to be ultra-smooth and silky, with none of the quirky edges the brilliant Malbecs show in Alkoomi or Frankland Estate at the opposite end of Australia in Great Southern. Or indeed the extreme altitude Argentinian Malbecs from Mendoza in the Andes like you'll find in Vintage Cellars. What tannin there is seems barely discernable, but whippy cool climate acidity draws its tail out to a beautiful slinky taper that simply slides and slithers away, leaving the drinker trapped in the belief that the finish will be somewhere in the next glass, or the next bottle. In other words, more, please.

I started thinking of oh-so-polite juicy pink lamb cutlets but soon realised we're talking about a whole sheep on the coals, Argentinian-style. And lunch will lazily become dinner.


Jeffrey Payne said...

I tasted the Ballandean Malbec at the 2013 Qld Wine Awards dinner and thought it the best on the night. Glad to here someone as knowledgeable as you thinks it is a nice drop. (Jeff Payne MCEETYA)

DeadHead said...

Love the bookcase Whitey. Those wines look like sinister reading. I take it that's Garcia by the editors of Rolling Stone, not the CIA? They haven't had a good week with accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Two excellent wineries!