“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)





29 July 2016


O'Leary Walker Polish Hill River Clare Valley Riesling 2016 
($25; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap) 

Pacing from the kitchen to my desk, I snapped the lid of this and hardly was the cap away and a heady wherrul of the lychees and limes of the Polish Hill River stopped me in the doorway. It overwhelmed the smell of sheep and wet pasture blowing through my windows; cast out the smell of winter. It was as if it had a pump in it or some magical compression was releasing a heady fresh essence of these fruits. Vaping. Like within a metre of pacing air it actually got right up my nose before the lid was properly off. It brought me to a halt. That's a start.

Pour it and the dusty vintage sky of the old slopes east of Clare; their stubble and stone seem to cover those fruits in a grainy armour. It is a lovely summer smell in all this wintry damp; the paperflowers in warm stoneware. Brittle.

Drink it and all that simply invades you. It makes me realise why Riesling scares some people. Wine like this is very authoritative. Rare examples like this can be surly organoleptic bullies unless you can handle it right out here on the front.

By Bacchus this a beautiful tight, severe drink. It will last decades under the screwcap. This is as good as it gets. 

More broad and relaxed, by 3 millimeters, the Watervale Clare Valley Riesling 2016 ($20; 11% alcohol; screw cap) has buttered toast and lime marmalade and just strolls right down your broadcast section like the person who owned the joint before ... and I mean the landlord we drowned in polenta ... these hints of cosy comfort aside, it's a stone-dry piece of beautiful Clare Riesling austerity ... remembers: pompously advising somebody in Clare 30 years back to declare an appellation the opposite of auslese: austérité ... "Which does not mean brittle," I half-recall adding or hoping I did. 

Anyway, I'm teasing. This Watervale will not be on the streets for a few weeks. If you're quick, you'll see it go past when they let it out. It is a ravishing and sousing swallow. Which takes me straight back to the Polish Hill River wine which should be everywhere by now. After an hour on the windowsill it's become an enormous rich thing, with whispers of spice market piquance beginning to stir way below.

Rind exotica. 

Week later, worse.

I was thinking, likely for the swillionth time, of which red variety best shadows Riesling. 


No red grape demands such forebearing to drink easily, or maybe thoughtlessly when young, nor such patience while you wait for it to stop being young. 

On the other hand, Riesling is the little sister you carry on your back down the railroad track to school and then you turn around one day and she's the empress, sharpening her trident.

Snarling over her shoulder, lovely girl.

Johnny Ruciack [the last Pole to live in the Polish Valley, near Mintaro south-east of Clare] at his cottage in the 'eighties ... he lived without plumbing or power but kept an astonishing copperplate diary of natural history all his long life ...  want to learn the local vineyard geology? Look at Johnny's walls ... photos Philip White

DEPTH OF DARKNESS COMMENT: Milton reckons this image is too dark. I wanted it to look as dark as Mintaro slate, but I'm clusterfuck colourblind so beware. TYPOGRAPHY COMMENT: just in the spirit of slatey old Adelaide photography and monochrome with that town's haunting by double-O crosseyes of a real early colonial vintage here's a Stacey Pothoven-Vice B&W through a West End winda ... see?

1 comment:

Dazza said...

Salivating for some of these Whitey. Well put as usual!