“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)





07 September 2015


LongLine Albright McLaren Vale Grenache 2014 
$26; 14.5%; screw cap; 94 points  

From old struggler dry-grown vines in the extremely old rocks high above the Onkaparinga Gorge comes this very clean, modern Grenache. It's all a polished sheen of raspberry, cherry and redcurrant, so slick and shiny and seamless it gives me the feeling of red chrome. There is no lurchy change of gears between that determined bouquet and the flavour and texture: the wine is a polished lozenge, harmony all the way. It reminds me of the shape of Sir Donald Campbell's Bluebird, that long space-age teardrop of a machine that won him the World's Speed Record on Lake Eyre when I was a kid. Only in its long tapered tail does anything interrupt this reassuring feeling of speed and smooth luxury, and that's pretty smooth in itself: there's just the tiniest tease of very finely focused tannin there in the exhaust to make the lips smack with the notion of delicious resolution. In my case, this fool notion didn't really resolve until the bottle was done, which took no time at all. It went past like the Bluebird. Peking duck, please. 

S. C. Pannell McLaren Vale Grenache 2014 
$55;  14% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points 

This one's from a sandy rise north of McLaren Flat, old vines again: 72 years without irrigation. It has a darker glimmer than the Albright, with a heart like the core of swamp blackwood pumping there in the middle: slow, almost sinister. So, talking Burgundy, while it has all those Morey-St-Denis cherries and raspberries like the Albright, it has the added glint of polished gunmetal, licorice and leather at its centre. Call it a Les Suchots Vosne-Romanée from, say, Domaine l'Arlot. It is smooth and shiny and polished like the Albright, but it seems to have a more wicked intention. Not only does it seek to delight you, but the damn thing actually wants your soul. It makes its calm, smooth, acquisitive  confidence clear. Tea-smoked duck, please - quick, before it gets my soul! 

Provenance Geelong Shiraz 2013 
$32; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points 

Drinking this after those two Grenache wines, the diligent ethanologist would find it a logical step: it's like the Shiraz adds some mulberry, juniper and blackberry to the shiny morello syrup of those brilliant Vales beauties. It's still smooth and teardropped in shape, but to exaggerate its step closer to the Heart of Darkness it also has the death-dry tannins of the stockman's black tea pannikin. It's not strong enough to suck all the water out of your eyes, but it will set them quietly leaking and keep you awake in the saddle for a few more emotional hours. Ki-yi-yippy-ki-yaaaayyyyy. (Whistles.) We're crossing over into pork belly territory, hombres. More black pepper in the hotpot, please.  

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