“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 July 2015


Mosquito Hill Southern Fleurieu Savignon Blanc 2013 

$20; 13.3% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points 

A few years back when everybody thought the next Great White Wonder might well be the stylish Galacian blonde  variety Albariño -  aka Alvarinho or Cainho branco - there was a mad flurry of planting. Until somebody discovered that the cuttings being distributed were in fact Traminer from the forgettable appellation called Jura, which is near Geneva and equally droll.

Which is not quite on the Atlantic, like Galacia.

Most growers barged on regardless, displaying their disregard for the market by insisting that this transposition made no difference at all. They did, however, decide they had a better chance of selling the wine under the name Savignin, hoping this would take back some of the huge market share Australia has lost to Kiwi Sauvignon blanc.

This may have fooled some, but the buttery, peachy, oily-to-greasy Savignin-cum-Traminer is closer in style to the Alsace Gewurztraminer than anything vaguely approaching the crisp grassiness of Sauvignon blanc.

Glyn Jamieson's vineyard at Mount Jagged on the Fleurieu is cooler than most of the sites on which Savignin found itself. Something about that, and the very keen wine intellect of its owner and dreamer/planner, makes this the best example I have seen in Oz.

Apart from all the rich apricot, over-ripe pear, and even yellow peach characters typical of the grape - think Viognier - the fruit here has a fine nostril-tickling acridity that smells like freshly-split bluestone. Almost in contrast, the wine has a loveable unctuous texture in place of the sweaty gaúcho feeling many other makers seem happy to grasp.

As this comforting pat-me-down of a drink makes its progress, those stone fruits take on a slight verdancy, a little like the Chinese bitter melon, to finish with a dusting of very fine dry tannin.

Which all adds up to a wine that would swim beautifully with feisty Thai chilli-ginger-lemongrass-coriander cuisine, or something a little more subdued, like chicken stewed in scrumpy with plenty of fresh tarragon, heaps of squashed garlic cloves and little white onions. 

Mosquito Hill Southern Fleurieu Les Blancs 2011 
$20; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 85 points 

This one's fifty-fifty Savignin and Pinot blanc. It has even more of that prickly quarried rock edge in its piquant bouquet, along with a tantalising tickle of burlap, like a superphosphate sack. Which takes me closer to Burgundy than Switzerland or Spain.

The Pinot blanc seems to counteract the rich texture of the Savignin, making a more slender, sinuous drink, perhaps after the style of a particularly good Aligoté, which is probably the most widely-planted white grape in Burgundy.

Point it at poached pork or veal dishes. It's be dandy with a tender saltimbocca with capers. 

Mosquito Hill Southern Fleurieu Les Blancs 2012 
$20; 13.4% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points 

The addition of 20% Chardonnay at the expense of some Savignin, and a little more ripeness overall, sees this model leading the Mozzie Hill trinity: this one nails it.

The wine has some lemony edge with all that rockdust and sack, giving the bouquet more tempting elegance than the other two wines. The flavours have a neat junketty turn a little after the nature of fermenting bean curd and here the Chinese melon character is under control, neatly entwining with those white furry-skinned stone fruit flavours.

The acid is firm and securing; the tannins very fine but persistent, a little after the style of a particularly fine and elegant Condrieu Viognier. Which is a rarity in itself.

So what do we have here? We have a most un-Australian flavour that I'd expect geographically to find somewhere between Galacia and Jura but, er, probably closer to the latter which must put me somewhere very near Burgundy and its mellow bean stews.

The seasoned traveller will know that much-Michelined megabuck eateries aside, the best place to dine well in Burgundy is a backroad truckstop. I can imagine being surprised by, but quickly accepting a surpise find like this wine in such a place. Like somewhere on the flats approaching Mâcon.

You know you're gonna drive off much more slowly than the mad lost way you approached.

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