“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)





15 March 2016


I imagine the grapes in the Bremerton Special Release Vermentino 2015 ($24; 12% alcohol; screw cap) come from Langhorne Creek: the label sure says the winemaker Rebecca Willson comes from there, and I know she does, but on a 'special release' I'd like to know where the grapes were grown and by whom. And, probably, why. From my investigation, most of the Larncrk growers of these old world varieties that end in O have done it because somebody else has done it or it ends in O.

The best white ferment I've tasted yet this vintage was an eleven degrees baumé Verm-O I caught trickling out of the press at the winery next door to me; I'm not sure where it came from or whose wine it'll end up being but there it was: crisp and bright and appetising. Which pushed me to try this one: twelve alcohols sounds within the realms.

Modestly chilled, it smells a bit like old-fashioned men's hairoil. The Rawleigh's man, who travelled door-to-door and always seemed a bit pissed off if there were kids at home when he'd come to tempt Mum with his little case of unctions. So maybe eleven woulda been better. Fruit obsessives might call it tropical. To me it's a bit like the Pepino melon, Solanum muricatum, which is not really a melon but can be delicious raw if it's really ripe and its bitterness has done a runner. I prefer just a trace of bitter with the Pepino.

Which is here in the palate. Just a shiver of it: enough to set the eyelid cinema on flickering visions of fish. Not greasy Lake fish, but bright whitewater fish: gar or whiting with lemon and pepper and white bread and butter. It's a crisp, bright, casual beauty for that icebucket in the sun.

At least the fine print on the Bremerton Special Release Fiano 2015 ($24; 13% alcohol; screw cap) says its grapes were grown at Langhorne Creek. It says it's a 'modern example' which is reassuring, given that it's barely a year old. It smells a bit like hemp or burlap. Fresh hessian. And Bosc pear. It seems to have more oil and cream in its texture than the Vermentino, which makes me wonder whether it would be even more appetising if it too were closer to eleven alcohols. But then the acid comes in like the tide and the seawater fish are replaced by pictures of Coorong mullet, which has a bit more grease and would suit this just so smart if it were in a light beer batter. Yum-O.

The Bremerton Batonnage Chardonnay 2014 ($32; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) is called 'batonnage'  because the cellarhands had to pull the bungs and stir the barrels with a stick, so the dead yeast would mix in and make the wine thicker. The French wood, and all that stirring, makes it more expensive. Peter Barry infamously used his favourite nine-iron back when we were talking.

Whatever the Willson sisters' baton whirrer used was successful. This sure is thick Chardonnay: the oak has given a smoky tinge to the bacon fat and the dairy fat Port Salut cheese aromas that arise when such winemaking, and sometimes also malo-lactic fermentation, assist the development of fatty acids in what started out as a limy-lemony grape juice.

I prefer this one with a dash of the Vermentino in it to brighten it up, add lipsmacking length and give it the hunger. I reckon they gave it a bit too much stick. But lovers of those old Roxburgh styles will love it neat. As I might with the right food. Like what? Poached gosling?  Now you're talking Whitey. Pluck and poach a gosling in dry perry with shallotts, lemons, a bunch of garlic and a half a bush of fresh tarragon and you're a goner. Discard only feathers. 

Bremerton Racy Rosé Langhorne Creek South Australia 2015 ($17; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) is my pick of this bunch. That label text indicates it could come from parts of South Australia other than Langhorne Creek but I don't care: it's better. It smells like a plate of smoked salmon with capers and sliced blood orange and it makes me dribble. It has a reassuring umami texture like fish or chicken stock and the sorts of flavours I can imagine trying to blend using blood orange, pink grapefruit and maraschino cherries; maybe pomegranate. A really crunchy baguette with an anchovy and a chunk of Kefalograviera cheese and this and there's not much cause to keep on living other than guts oneself to death on the same stuff anyway. Good luck with that.  

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