“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)





11 February 2016


It's a few short years now since this bonnie brave Jericho brand first lobbed on the Casa Blanca table: I can't believe how fast that time has gone. I imagine the Jericho family's still panting from the pace of it all.

But while those repasts and new releases have whirred by like a picket fence, the Jericho bottle has secured a reliable beach-head in many fashionable fridges and on many leading wine lists. Few new product launches can boast such success.

I almost said immediate success, which would have been really silly: Neil Jericho's been making wine for other famous brands for forty years; his son Andrew's been at it for others for a decade; son Kim's cool graphic art on the label is the result of years hard at work in that profession, and daughter Sally has degrees and a career of her own in accounting and marketing as well as cutting-edge experience in wine export compliance at Wine Australia.

Andrew and Kim Jericho, rear; Neil, Kaye, Steve and Sally, seated ... photos©Philip White 

The new Jericho Adelaide Hills Tempranillo 2015 ($25; 13.4% alcohol; screw cap) is from a cool up-country vineyard near Kuitpo. Made in the joven, or young style, it's vibrant and bright and ready to drink. It has a sun-on-the-stubble prickle in its bouquet, just enough to tickle and alert the sensories before the black olive and beetroot fruit swirls in to soothe. There's a shot of bitter morello cherry, too, adding the urgent sort of appetising savour such cruisy bistro/brasserie wine requires to succeed. Like bistro means quick; brasserie, noisy. The wine has a lovely tannin finish that triggers thoughts of warm kalamata, black Spanish ham and olive-and-anchovy pizza with buffalo mozzerella. It's the Jericho's best Temp yet, and exactly the sort of casual red wine that suits a town like this in the sort of summer festival we revel in.

I've reviewed the other three Jericho reds before, but let me assure you a second slow look at them after all those months simply reconfirms my initial suspicions: the 14 McLaren Vale GSM is mellowing without losing any of its racy appetising edge; the 12 McLaren Vale Shiraz has all the rich warmth of that region in a more elegant and poised frame than most of those makers are smart or brave enough to attempt and the delicious 13 Adelaide Hills Syrah's  heading off toward somewhere between Burgundy and Côte-Rôtie, which helps explain why it's called Syrah rather than Shiraz. 

In case you feel my mention of Burgundy relative to Syrah or Shiraz or whatever you prefer to call it is a tad blithe, let's move from Kuitpo to Hahndorf, and one ironstone ridge north east of the brilliant Hahndorf Hill.

Here lies the tiny Romney Park estate of Rachel and Rod Short and my boyfriend Campbell. They grow and make some of our very best Pinot noir, in such miniscule volumes they'll kill me for even mentioning them: there's a waiting list to get on their mailing list sort of thing. Which is not to discourage you.

I've just surrendered to their Romney Park Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2013 ($45; 13.8% alcohol; DIAM compound cork), which also fits somewhere between Burgundy and Côte-Rôtie in the sense that it's from a lofty, cool site, but it's had more sun than Burgundy usually affords. It's rich and sensual Pinot, with a touch of exquisite Valrhona cooking chocolate in there amongst all its framboise and black cherry. There are darker, more mysterious tones too: something along the lines of blackberry leaves as much as their ripening berries. And the dark whiff of the ironstone gibbers around its roots: something you won't find in Burgundy. 

To schlück - maybe wallow and relish are better words - the wine has just the right volume of fresh flesh, and tapers sensually to a long teasing tail of bright natural acidity and very fine, gentle tannins. To mex my mitaphors, go Italian:  try it with the sort of elegant and tender saltimbocca you can find in Amalfi.

If you can squeeze a six pack outa the Shorts, have one bottle now to see if I lie, and keep five until 2020. If you can't do that, get in the queue for the next release, or beg a bottle of their delicious fizz or Shiraz.

Campbell, by the way, has different-coloured eyes, like David Bowie: one bright blue, one deep browny-grey. The bugger pinches my pot straight outa my hands and scampers off giggling. He's a champion feather-footed half-Clydesdale grey dressage horse, more imp than ponce. We've had a thing going for years now. Please keep this secret.

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