“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)





14 September 2016


Dodgy Bros. Shiraz 2014 
($25; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap 

The Dodgies have done it again, making a deadly sweet-smelling bowl of berries from vineyards on the Sellicks Hill slopes at the south end of McLaren Vale, where the faultline dives into the Gulf. They're called the Front Hills on all the old maps, but the name's slid out of the vernacular.

Good name.

The wine still slides in. It's like a real sweet borscht to sniff, with a swirl of fat fresh cream. But there's a lot of other rich fruity things in there too, in a smooth cool soup.

Not to mention the acrid edgy smell of the scarp.

It's such a lovely silky smooch of a drink I'd much rather just schluck it away than play taxonomist and describe it. Even before I could, if I would, the damn thing's off like a puff of magic black pashmak, if you could get that exquisite blonde Persian fairy floss the colour of night with a dollop of warm dark chocolate sauce on the side. It leaves fleeting and then the waves of all the above swish back, mingled with real appetising acidity. 

Dodgy Bros. The Dilemma 2014 
 ($29; 14% alcohol; screw cap) 

Grown in the best spots, which are rare in Australia, Cabernet franc can be the prettiest perfumed thing. It's sometimes my fave of all the smartarse Bordeaux varieties. None of which you'd probly go looking for in McLaren Vale.

Forget that. This is a vibrant floral one with lesser degrees of Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot. It's instantly disarming. It smells as smooth and rich as wild bee honey when the tree gets hot, but as if the honey was made from sweet red berries not pollen.

Drink. Ewie that's good. More of the types of delicate fruit syrup you find in Persia for that pashmak.
Okay. Here's the pashmak. Where's The Dilemma? 

Then there's a slow welling of dark green tomato leaf tannins. Mmmmm. Counterpoint. Which rises while you plan the next glass or a forkful of duck and pork dumpling, al dente. And then that subsides like the waves on the seashores where the children run and shout and it all comes back again.

Both these wines are so silky cute I'd never worry about food. Wait til somebody comes round and knock one over. 

Dodgy Bros. Archetype Grenache McLaren Vale 2014 
 ($37; 14.8% alcohol; screw cap) 

Man this just invades your nose. The silk and the syrup. It's all marshmallow and framboise and coffee and chocolate liqueur to sniff. It's like a chocolate flan. But then I smell a whoof of white pepper like fresh from the grinder and some anise and those licoricey blacknesses you didn't think would be there but well, there they are. Smooth as. 

One of these Dodgies is a fair dinkum scientist who works in the secret gubmnt smell division deep beneath the mountain where all the wine industry secrets happen at Brownhill Creek and I reckon he's flared his nostrils over these ferments a little more wisely and forensically than most of the locals would, which is maybe why they call it Archetype.

It's so confectionary it's not the archetype of Vales Grenache in my book, but hallelujah I can just drink it so easily and happily I laugh. It's like going to the Royal Show. 

Dodgy Bros. Archetype Shiraz McLaren Vale 2014 
($44; 14.6% alcohol; screw cap) 

Lemon and licorice, cordite and hot galvo in a summer rain ... great big pot of raisins and currants crawling t'ward the boil for Nan's Exmess pudding with cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves and all that wondrous piquant stuff ... coffee grounds and cold black tea leaves ... cacao powder like the bearded young Mennonite folk dust upon the protein froth of coffee ... all these black fruits that winewriters refer to all the time wishing them black fruits did exist but they don't and what's real is mainly the smell of rusty summer galvo when it rains. With a squirt of lemon. And then all that Ribena syrup and the chicory essence and black fruits that ...

Haven't even mentioned the cassis and framboise.

But that all adds up to pretty damn good.

And drink? Where'd that go? Yes please.

These are really brilliantly good drinks. With the passage of the years the Dodgies improve with vintage and cellar and their elegant silky syrup of a style is exactly what a lot of us yearn for without ever admitting it. Because we can't. We should dare.

Because we can.

Where the Willunga Faultine dives into the Gulf: the only place where the fault's exposed and visible is in Cactus Canyon, west of The Victory Hotel on Sellick's Hill. On the left is the Heatherdale Shale (about 520 million years old); on the right, the western side, is the recent Christie's Beach Formation (10,000 years, plus). The Gulf St Vincent is only a few hundred metres further west. If you enter the Canyon from the seaside and walk upstream you'll traverse some amazing natural history ... just watch the tide, and keep an eye out for the peregrines which are always in here, hunting gulls and pigeons ... photo Philip White

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