“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)





13 May 2016


Charles Melton Rose of Virginia 2015 ($24; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap) is the latest in a long line of beautifully rosey rosés that established Charlie as clear leader in the dry pink genre, well, decades back. It's all turkish delight/rosewater/musky confectioner's sugar in the perfume division, and then rose hip jelly on white bread toast when it hits the laughing gear, which will instantly switch on a dirty grin if not your actual full-bore guffaw. As far as a glass of drink goes, it's rare to find one that brings laughter and glee like this.

Which is not to say it ain't a dead-serious dining wine: smoked salmon, fennell, chives, capers and goat curd ... closing in on toast again ... rye bread this time. Tea-smoked duck would do it beautifully, too, or a big Thai feast on a summer's day. It's gorgeous.

One thing worth remembering about rosé is that the good ones emerge during the autumn, which, with winter, is more of a time for fuller-bodied tinctures. So the maturing wino slowly learns that now is the time to buy a case of this or that for drinking in the forthcoming spring or summer. Just do it. And during the rainy days now on us? Turn your phone map off. Follow this route:

Having named the rosé after his missus, not the place, Charlie now adds a wine named after his mother-in-law: Charles Melton La Belle Mère Barossa Valley GSRM 2013 ($24; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap). 

So what's the R stand for? Roussanne?

A dozen years ago at the international Shiraz conference at Yalumba, I moderated at a huge masterclass where winemakers from all over the world investigated a dodgy new fad - for Australia - called Shiraz Viognier. Charlie Melton sat at the front with me. The four hundred winemakers really liked his Shiraz. To me, it seemed about the best structured wine in that long line.

When it was his turn to address us, Charlie said that Viognier was like beetroot, which he hates. But while he said that being a food plant, beetroot's not a bad thing in itself, like, take it or leave it, but nobody'd want it on a hamburger.

So what was in his gorgeous Voices of Angels Shiraz?


Here and there amongst the Shiraz in the old bush vine vineyard were Riesling vines. He simply picked them together. Some of that's in this pretty blend of Grenache, Shiraz, Riesling and Mataro.

It's like a modern south-of-France blend with more overt oak than you generally find there, so it's a bit more butch and spicy, somewhere along the lines of nutmeg and mace; maybe even the curry tree, Murraya koenigii. It helps with my theory that as you go north from seaside McLaren Vale up the ranges through the Barossa to continental Clare, the relative humidity decreases and with this dimunition of atmospheric moisture the granular dryness of the skin tannins increases.

So once I've actually had a goodly guzzle, in reflection it seems a little more dry air upland continental Spanish than sultry seaside Provence or the humid Rhône delta. So. Warm black olives; chorizos and Jamón ibérico, or an even better form of that black Spanish ham, Jamón serrano. Yum O.

So we leave sweet Virginia to cross the mother-in-law bridge going where? Charles Melton The Father In Law Shiraz 2012 ($24; 14.8% alcohol; screw cap) is where. And real good Barossa-style Shiraz it is, at about half the price of many wines of similar quality. It has just the right amount of bitter black cherry amongst all those currants and dried black figs, so it opens the floodgates in the juice-squirting glands of the kisser and makes the brain go food food food.

Go visit Charlie before the blizzard sets in. He'll warm your ride.

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