“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 March 2016


photo from Vice

See that photo the Vice crew took at  last year's Vape Jam, the UK's first vaping expo? 

That's what the aromatic exhalations are like at a wine expo or wine show.

It's just that most people can't see the clouds of chaos.

Add to those exhalations the smells arising from spit buckets and packaging; the stink of cleaning agents and industrial perfumes in the walls, ceilings and floors; whatever crap there is cankered up in the air-conditioning system; the powerful aromas of all the humans, their toothpaste, skin, hair and clothes, and the crowd-controlling pheromones they exude, and you've obviously got a mess of sensory fractals that nobody could possibly decipher.

Unfortunately, such aromatic chaos is visible only to some rare synæsthetes, who are tortured by it.

All these folks who boast of possessing highly sensitive, finely-tuned organoleptic skills are bullshitting if they claim these monster winegasms are good to judge the finer points of any wine product.

Or indeed to make a fine new product stick in the appreciative memory of the taster or customer.

Which is why I give such shows a very wide berth.

I know my dear friend and mentor Max Schubert would often say "if you can't make a red wine that smells good in a room full of Gauloise smoke you might as well get out of the business," but winemakers had to be smokers to be employed in the Penfolds of his young days, and there's little subtlety in the mighty Grange.

In fact, when Australia was pioneering the use of cheap, new, smoky, sappy American oak, Quercus alba, in hogsheads for premium red wine after World War II, its most influential proponents were Max, Peter Lehmann and John Glaetzer, three chain-smoking Silesians who lived in smoky kitchens and judged the quality of most of their meats by the nature of its smoke-house. It was an expected component of good food.

They could indeed tell the name of the metwurst, chook or bacon's butcher by the nature of its smoke. A smoky background always made them hungry. And thirsty.

But that's just one aspect of the myriad miasmas and possibilities of wine. 

I'm the last one to preach that wine can only be appreciated and understood in aroma-free white laboratory rooms. Indeed the interplay of the aromas of a lovely wine, a lovely dish and a lovely partner can be much more sensual and exciting an experience than any disinfected, sanitised lab could afford, unless you're fucking on the bench. 

This was Dr. Max Lake's mantra.

But open a thousand bottles in a room with a thousand, or even twenty people?


Use such a ridiculous scenario to judge the best wines in a region, state or nation?

It's all bullshit.

Such grandiosity might please those addicted to mob rule, but give me the discrete tête-à-tête every time for tantalising.

If you must have a great table with dozens, put it outside, in the middle of the vineyard you're drinking. That's always better. It sticks in the organoleptic memory.

Indoors? My best rule? Maximum number at a table? Enough for each person to get a proper glass of every bottle opened. Which is six, maybe ten folks at a stretch.

I still prefer just the one true beauty. 

Pardon my infidelity, but this cartoon's by the other George (Cruikshank)

1 comment:

Rick Burge said...

7.15 pm, I'm cultivating some patches of couch that I don't want to get going next Spring. I'm 50 metres from Lyndoch oval netball courts - all of a sudden there's this weird fragrance in the air - I know it's not the tractor - and it's not until I return to that end of the vineyard that I realise that it's the combined aroma of 6 netball teams going their hardest. 50 metres, and it's in the air, downwind to me. I worry about how carcinogenic their applications must be!!! on THE STUPIDITY OF MASS TASTINGS