“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)





03 July 2015


Paracombe Holland Creek Adelaide Hills Riesling 2015 
$20; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 92+ points 

From the heart of the 2015 bushfire zone at Cudlee Creek, here's a splendid Riesling that shows no sign whatever of anything even vaguely resembling smoke taint. It smells all the world like a perfectly delicate type of grapefruit. Which was known as the forbidden fruit when it was first hybridised (Citrus x paridisi) in Barbados in the eighteenth century.

Smelling this made me wonder, for the first time in my life, whether grapefruit got its name because it smells like beautiful wine like this. On checking, it seems to have been named after the way grapefuits look like they're hanging in bunches on the bough, but you get my drift.

This smell makes me crave grilled flathead, even before I taste the wine.

Which is a task now accomplished. This is not a stern, stony Riesling like those of the Eden Valley or a lime-and-lemony brute from Clare. It has just the right balance of force and delicacy, in a texture that's very close to grapefruit pith as much as its slurpy, appetising juice. It's long, and dry and delightful.

There are references to other tropical fruits in here, but it also makes me think of the moist lickable mudstone of the Cudlee Creek gullies, one of which is home to Holland Creek.

While some parts of the vineyard were smoke tainted, winemaker Paul Drogemuller took a punt on this patch and here it stands, clean as a whistle.

"Whitey I got so excited about it that two days after bottling I took a few to Thailand with a mate and we had 'em with jungle food," Droggy drools. "I tell you four bottles wouldna been enough for the two of us." 

Droggie and the author ... jeez he's a friggin giant

Paracombe Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2015 
$21; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points 

While this lovely has some of the leafy lantana greens - even rosemary - that you might subconsciously expect of Sauvignons blanc, it has the extra business that has always set the Paracombe model apart: it's never overt, but there are bits of this wine's miasma that bring fleeting swirls of elderflower and lilac. Roses some years. Rosewater. Turkish delight. It's heady as much as refreshing and appetising. Wicked combo Mon.

She's singing about a sweeter version, but hit Youtube for Morgana King oozing Lilac Wine and you'll be on the note. Not exactly a drink for the chill of winter, this adventure is both ethereal and ephemeral, fleeting and sorta husky, like Madonna's Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy: "Aren't you gonna frisk me?"

It needs to be frisked in the summer, once again with the immediate hawker food you can imagine Droggy gutsing in the jungle. But Breathless Mahoney in the jungle? Yep. Having a smoke and a pink gin with Diana Palmer in the Phantom's Skull Cave after their honeymoon in Eden will do the pictures.

In the meantime, this line still enjoys such popularity that sales continue to boom after twenty years of growth. They're planting more Savvy-B as we drink.

"We can't keep up," the man says. I reckon you can lay a lot of the blame on Kath Drogemuller. She sells the stuff. Great families, see? 

Paracombe The Reuben Adelaide Hills 2012 
$23; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points 

Reuben 2009 was the highest-pointing wine in the entire Royal Melbourne Wine Show. I think this is better.

This is a top crystalline indicator of the gastronomic imagination and winegrowing intelligence of Paul Drogemuller.

Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Malbec and Shiraz swim happily around this glass. They do this royally, with the svelte elegance only the very shiny rich reliably display.

The aroma prickles gently and teases. It's not designed to be soothing in this its yoof. Oops. Youth. (Prince Harry flickered across the screen then, to be replaced by his beautiful Mum. Mercy. No sign of the Prince of Wales. Back to white noise and snow.)

This wine is so intense yet slender, sinewy and supple you could begin to yearn for a centimetre or two of puppy flesh. But then, after another long sniff, you realise that'd be silly. This wine is what it is. And it's beautiful.

Somehow, this form makes the wine ideal to drink at cellar temperature, or outside veranda temperature, right now in the winter chill. Juicy lamb cutlets and rosemary sort of thing.

Otherwise, put a case in a cool dark place for what, ten years? Open the first bottle in 2020 and I'll bet you wish you'd bought more.

In 2025 I'd be having it with thinly-sliced, barely-cooked veal liver and morels in a port-cream sauce.

 2nd February I looked from my veranda to see this bushfire blooming to the NNW ... "Paracombe!" I thought ... while some growers had real bad damage, I think in retrospect it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been, thanks to Fireys ... photo Philip White

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