“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)





27 September 2016


Ngeringa Adelaide Hills Rosé 2015 
($28; 13% alcohol; screw cap) 

Spring is all rosés at Casa Blanca. There is no more felicitous a range of drinks, the rosey name being a style or a colour or even a mood; an evocation more than a variety. I prefer the paler ones: those more the russetty colour of brown onion skins or the evil glimmer the Europeans call, in a swillion dialects, pheasant eye. Which being colourblind, I should never dare to mention, although I admit to peering deeply into nearly enough. Rosés, I mean.

I'm scared of the ones that look like raspberry cordial: they usually taste like that, with a bucket of sugar. Ew. Generally a waste of good Grenache.

This one seems the pale autumnal colour of the best ones of Provence, where they spoil them with dodgy cork. None of that here: that screwcap gives you a drink as fresh as a daisy, and as dry as an everlasting one. From biodynamic vineyards on the slopes of Mount Barker - the mountain, not the villa rash - it smells like those sunbaked shoulders in summer, or a barn there stacked with hessian sacks of grain.   

Drink. It is a sinuous thing of perfect viscosity: its texture dances a dainty minuet with its flavour: neither dominates. It does not taste like raspberry cordial. So we're nearly there and rosé is not the sort of drink we should be talking about as if we were taxonomers. Which the world needs, just by the way, taxonomers. Plenty of work down that bright alley. Off you go. 

Don't serve it too cold. Fifteen  minutes in a well-stacked icebucket will do, then recline and let it stack you. Being a sardine tragic, trust me to suggest a thin slice of lightly-toasted ciabatta with a Sardine Pollastrini Di Anzio Piccanti all' Olio d'Olivia, which I found in the excellent new Romeo's IGA supermarket in McLaren Vale. Best sardine around, that bugger. Sardines. Toast. Veranda. Dappled light. Conversation. Talk politics and religion. 

Ngeringa Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Sangiovese 2015 
($35; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) 

Really good Sangiovese reminds me of the summer, too. Getting off the crammed schoolbus with all its pimpled sweatbags on a dead-still sunbaked afternoon in Kanmantoo to discover Mum in the kitchen with water boiling on the woodfire stove and chook feathers and gizzards everywhere, preparing the week's meat for the mob. Big welcoming smile on her bonnie face; wiping her hands on her pinnie and pushing her hair back so there's just a wee smudge of chook blood on her forehead when she leans over for that wet motherly kiss. What I'd do for one more of those. 

Sange has that very peasanty in-your-face aroma, which brings comfort to an old hillbilly with an empty stomach, no money and no Mum. But such thoughts seem to deter everybody who's never smelled such stuff or been kissed by a mother with bits of raw chook and wet feathers all over her so pretend you never read any of that. 

This glass also exudes lovely fresh licorice and something along the lines of Bickford's Essence of Coffee and Chicory with an appetising edge of fine ground white pepper. Maybe blackberries, but with the dark British Racing Green hue of their leaves as much as the delectable fruit. It drinks like an asp sliding down the throat: let it go, miss the last grab of its tail, and it's in you, looking for the best bit to bite. Which it does with deadly accuracy, and you don't feel a thing. It's a slick, slippery trick of a wine. It's what people who once knew called a delicacy. Bring out the spaghetti vongole with the the fresh-chopped Italian parsley and have it after the sardines. Now we can talk. 

Ngeringa Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Syrah 2013 
($50; 14% alcohol; screw cap) 

Friggin' talk? Can we talk? Too late to ask, now we're into such deep, dark water. Not waving, taking a selfie. Press send. Then down we go. I reckon I can smell the midnight brine, the moder dy, in this wine. A still, moody moonlit night with no herrings catching in the north Atlantic. So you can put your feet up on the gunnel with a whisky and smoke. And dream of land life while the withered norseman skipper sucks his briar, stares you in the eye and says "I am some of the best sea captains in the world." One dreams of croft bliss, soft nuts and raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon, citrus rind and suet. It has semi-dried figs, too, which my tattered organoleptics seem to appreciate more as the years fall off and sink. 

Many of these fragrances remind me of the best wines from the oldest rocks around Greenock, but here they're followed by the sort of whippet-slim palate that only a higher, cooler, Mount Barkerly sort of a site can slide into one. And this slides, believe me. When they invent black quicksilver, it'll be like this.

There are a lot of so-called 'natural'  wines about, many of which enjoy the shelf life of unpasteurised milk. These beautiful biodynamic zingers are not like that. These are like wine should be.

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