“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)





25 September 2015


Rusty Mutt Rocky Ox McLaren Vale GSM 2014 
$28; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points 

From Bernard Smart's ancient bush vine vineyard - his personal one - high above the Onkaparinga Gorge, which presents a splendid southerly vista over the whole of McLaren Vale to the Gulf St Vincent, patron of viticulturers, the base wine here is about as good as Vales Grenache gets. Winemaker Scott Heidrich has added bits of Shiraz and Mataro to add a sinister gunmetal glint to both the colour and bouquet of that rosy morello cherry Grenache.

It's added black flavours, too. The wine is as slick and sensuous and as deadly as an asp. It has jet swarf rather than tannin, after steely whiprod acidity. It actually tastes shiny and black. It is neither rusty nor muttish, but more your polished hybrid.

This wine is a delicious, vibrant example of the difference between Grenache and the old GSM blend first labelled so at Rosemount in the 'nineties. All these ingredient wines are first class examples of their style, so it's a pure and true blend. But these darkening tones contributed by even the smallest percentages of Shiraz and Mataro quickly move you from the strawberry field and cherry orchard to the blacksmith's forge. Which, let's face it, is a more traditional place to be for the older Australian wino.  Even when it's this silky and shiny. It'll probly entice the shiniest, silkiest, most slick-backed drinkers. Turf Cork-tipped smokers. Or Craven A.

Flamenco dancers.

 Tea-smoked duck and shiitake eaters. 

Stanley Mouse for The Grateful Dead

Whistler Stacks On Barossa Valley GSM 2015 
$35; 13.5% alcohol; cork; 90+ points 

A whole year younger and $7 more spendy? All of winemaker Josh Pfeiffer's painstaking, organic growing, foot-treading, wild yeast and whatnot - what bounty does it bring?

First, it shows that whether you're in the Barossa or McLaren Vale, the best old Grenache vineyards tended in the most respectful loving way will readily give you a cold hard shiny tuxedo/latex/gunmetal wine as soon as you start adding Shiraz and Mataro. The S&M very quickly overwhelms the cheery cherry sensitivity of the G-spot, turning out a black zipleather Gimp in suss haste.

This is intense silky wine beneath that gunblue, extremely polished and shiny; almost impenetrable.

It has studs in its collar and pierced everything and beads of sweat and it's slick and polished like black chrome rather than aromatic leather - that'll hurt - but still can't help showing some sensitivity even if somewhat reptilian. And that'll hurt some more. Ouch. Ew. I promise.

Okay, okay I'll eat it now. Whatever it is.

Funny how the shine dims before the bottle's done and the finish goes furry and soft. That's a relief.

Since the International Grenache Day masterclass at Serafino, any Grenache I've tasted with Shiraz and Mataro in it tastes like a waste of perfectly good Grenache. I'm sure this hissy will pass and I'll live to love lovely GSM mixtures like these again and regret confessing this, but at the moment, such clever snaky blends look a little like old-fashioned movie cyborgs, clunky, maybe brittle beneath their beautiful sheen. 

Put simply, I poured these wines at precisely the wrong time.

This week, such sophisticated blending interferes with the cheery freckled honesty of great straight Grenache. Apologies to both makers. Let's see what happens next.

Stanley Mouse for The Grateful Dead

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