“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)





06 August 2016


I don't recall anybody back in the early days of the Adelaide Hills wine business even imagining that by now we'd have 'Burgundy' inspired wines like these three Paracombe lovelies at prices like this. 

I seem to think most investors dreamed of a future where everything would be at least $100.

But the Drogemullers obviously saw it differently, and have made lovely definitive wines at humble prices on their special slice of the Paracombe plateau above Kangaroo Creek since they first got the shovel out all those years ago. Not just decades. It's a whole family ago. They are one of those special local favourites of Adelaide. 

How lucky we are. 

I know, I know ... grey Pinot is not like very Burgundian but it is Pinot so let's start at Paracombe Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2016 ($20; 13.3% alcohol; screw cap), which  betrays winemaker Paul Drogemuller's love of the gastronomic life of Thailand. It smells like a fruit stall somewhere there, just squoze in where the jungle eats the road. All sorts of lovely juicy fruits and melons. Big leaves. Vine flowers. Damn thing drips with life. It has the sort of unction of jackfruit: that creamy/buttery/pineapple territory, but never gets too big on your face. Its acid is almost dainty.

It's that texture that makes the wine better able to handle quite severe chilling, which is handy given the way some joints serve their wine. I prefer it at winter windowsill temperature, where it teeters between comforting and savoury. It's perfect slack schlücking just neat for elevenses, better with any hawker food you can find between Kuala Lumpur and Vientiane. Rent a Harley. 

Paracombe Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 ($21; 13% alcohol; screw cap) is a more smoky, sultry affair. It has a piquant summery topnote with that Aussie dust prickle in it; maybe a slice of lemon ... beneath that it's all fresh juicy peach and crème brûlée.

Its texture is more creamy than the gris, yet still never gets plain fatty. Nevertheless it would well  accompany the fattier fishies, like Coorong mullet. Or the salt'n'pepper eggplant at Wah Hing, with a shloosh of chilli oil. That neat little twist of tannin in the wine's tail makes it one of the easiest, simplest solutions to all manner of lunchtime seafood, grilled or battered.

Don't even start me on the chicken. 

chilli oil at Wah Hing ... photos by Philip White

Paracombe Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2014 ($21; 13% alcohol; screw cap) is an audacious, cheeky filly of a wine with a wicked twinkle in its eye. It's all marello cherries with blueberry and beetroot, approaching a good cool borscht. And it has that little hint of grilled cashew and maybe even crunchy bacon rind.

The feeling is not quite syrupy, but close: all those aromas and flavours need a supple frame - not too chubby. Like it's much more yoghurt than cream in the borscht. It leaves the mouth a little eager for more of anything, which is always a danger.

This'd be the one for your pork and duck lunch.

All these wines make me thing of lunch. Lunch in specific places. I know the tables; the dishes. And those sure are very attractive lunchtime prices - the size of that number is beaten only by the welcome brevity of the alcohols.

My point being that here thirty years on in the posh Hills vignoble, it's a grand thing to see the Drogemuller family still in there, booming, with bloody lovely honest bargain beauties like this prim trio.

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