“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)





16 June 2016


Sellicks Hill Wines McLaren Vale Greco 2013 
($30; 13% alcohol; screw cap)

While the wildcats of McLaren Vale plant Fiano everywhere - it grows much better at Langhorne Creek, methinks, until the Vales finds the right geology - the belligerent and knowing Paul Petagna flips 'em the bird with this, the region's first home-grown Greco. (Beach Road has a good one, but that's also from the estuarine realms of Langhorne Creek.)

Paul learned his winemaking from his late father-in-law, Modestino Piombo, in the shed where this wine was born. He makes his wine real slow and rustic. Old oak; lots of long lunches; a well-greased spit; wood oven; pots bubbling with pasta ... 

Nigel Rich conducts vintage lunch amongst Paul Petagna's Sellicks Hill fermenters

This Greco has alluring wafts of fresh-poached peach with grilled lemon and pineapple, dusted with musky confectioner's sugar and crystallised violets. And oh yes, a sprinkle of fresh white pepper. When they pack their old Ferraris away in climate-controlled storage, millionaire petrolheads put talcum on their windscreen rubbers to preserve them. It smells like that, too.

These aromas are not vividly broadcast in the flavour division. Rather, we have a neutral moment that's all about texture: modestly unctuous, then very long and dusty and tapering until those lovely things you inhaled return in your happy exhalation.

Nigel Rich (The Elbow Room and Slo Moe's) once boned a pig, stuffed it with about ten boned paddock-raised chooks, fresh herbs and a wheelbarrow full of garlic and and cooked it slow on a spit while we attacked barrels in Château Modestino there on the slope above the Gulf but below The Victory.

This delicious adult wine would go just swimmingly with that feast, were it all to happen again.Which it may, or something like it: keep an eye on the Sellicks Hill Wines website.

Torzi Matthews Vigna Cantina Eden Valley Rosato di Sangiovese 2015 ($25; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap)

I know, I know. Every time I review wines from the Torzi Matthews stable or their Long Hop/Old Plains brands with colleague Tim Freeland, I drool over their wholesome, open-hearted honesty, the  rustic sense of country they express, and their amazing value. So there. I've done it again.

And so has dear Dominic Torzi with this disarming rosé. It's not sweet: it has not one insinuation of the simple raspberry-jelly pink drinks upon which too many squander really good Grenache. Instead, we have an autumnal-coloured wine with a slightly cheesey whiff amongst its gentle capocollo and mortadella fats. Which makes it the perfect accompaniment to a proper antipasto spread: it'll handle even the tricky tannins of the pickled artichoke.

The wine is gentle and fine of structure, with just the right amount of viscosity to settle you down before the dusty tannins move in to excite you and tighten your hunger. It'll make a vitello tonnato sing, duet perfectly with veal Sorrentino, and build to a real cute choral work with saltimbocca. And it'll do this, in every case, with a role more supportive than contrasting. It will never intrude, but lubricate and very gently stimulate. So there: I'm drooling again. Vivaldi glorias please.

Torzi Matthews Vigna Cantina Barossa Valley Tempranillo 2014 ($25; 14% alcohol; screw cap)

Brazenly Tempranillo in every way, this joven style red reeks of all that Spanish leather and coal dust the variety boasts at its best. It smells complex and deep like a glowering well of country goodness.

Once again, the flavours are secondary to the wine's grainy texture - it's the rewards one finds in the exhalation that give it that long, satisfying finish. Which is never to suggest it's not appetising, too: this is one for a steaming stack of big field mushrooms, pan-tossed blue cabbage, and/or lightly-poached baby beetroots, with or without a dribbling haunch of beef.

You can spend a lot of hard-earned searching for Spanish Temps that never approach this one for sheer gastronomic delight.  

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