“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)





07 September 2016


As far as I know the Italians never built anything as big as the pyramids, but by Bacchus they can breed 'em. I was trying to break in through the back of a joint down on the mudflats to see if anybody was alive and it was dark and there was a bloke sitting there in the gloom who was bigger than the Sphynx's pimp. 

If that didn't bend the rubberneck back far enough there was the dog-like beast, lolling and dribbling all over everything. Like what I reckon is the biggest dog-like beast actually living on Earth there with this pyramid size dude in the dark. Anyway, they interrupted my felony, Pyramid Man and the dog-like beast. So we sat down and drank.

Andrew Pieri is his name. He makes a deadly easy-drinker called Pieri Malocchio 2014 ($25; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap) from the Montepulciano variety. Malocchio, just between you and me, is the evil eye. "Where smiles are made and not born," it says on the back. It seems threatening from the outside, but probably not likely to require more defensive blast than one barrel loaded with rock salt and the other with whole black peppercorns, dried. 

Remember the rock salt will dissolve in 'em before the cops come and they'll just be hoppin' stingin' and itchy and very damn thirsty whereas the peppercorns will still be in there for a cop doc to pluck out with a real long pair of tweezers and put 'em in a little laboratory bag so they can count 'em out in the courthouse and you're a goner. 

If you don't want firearms you can whack him with some Tony Marino's Hot Cacciatore. Like sit down and share it with a bottle of this and a couple cold hard-boiled eggs.  And I'm warning you: sharing could be a threatened species considering this is the sort of drink I could easily get in the habit of vanishing all alone by the bottle real quick with a pack of Luckies if it wasn't worth watching the smile and oohing aahing dancebaby face the first mouthful they get when you share.

It's a ripping, evocative sort of a drink. Only really good wines get the old eyelid cinema rockin' like this.

It smells like that cream you put on patent leather or just real rich cream whipped over a big bowl of mulberries dribbling in kirsch. With a touch of the old black stove. And drink? Oh man it's just long bad black silk slinkin' round like somethin' down the side of Deadwood in a fur. Removes gloves for kiss. 

Pieri Azzardo 2012 ($45; 15% alcohol; screw cap) is made from Shiraz left to dry on racks after the ancient north Italian recipe probably used by Jesus. This is very impressive wine. It smells a bit beasty. But below its midnight fur it has that appassimento aroma, that oozy ether of fig soaked in old sweet Verdelho madiera with a truffle. You might expect a thicker, jammy drink but below all that well-massaged bouquet you find the most elegant skeleto-sinew frame all dressed up in tannins  best described as furry. It's exquisite. A Desmosedici RR Ducati crossed with a really fit young gorilla with a penchant for a stinkin' quiff fulla them on-the-head spices. The furry black motorbike. And red. 

Vigna Cantina Barossa Valley Tempranillo 2015 ($25; 15% alcohol; screw cap) is from Torzi Matthews, longtime makers of dead-reliable rustic guzzle of the highest, finest order at the lowest, most squashed prices. They put many much more highly regarded and bigger brands to shame. Here we have more of that sweet figs-in-madiera headiness, decorated with musky confectioners' sugar. It sometimes smells like meringue in raspberries and cream. And then down below there's that slightly sinister Spanish leather harness reek typcal of Temp. Hot chorizos please, and warm black olives.

Funny thing that olives bit. There's a bit of the old kalamata pickling water in the flavour here, just to ensure you it's not sweet. Like the above wines, it ends up just slippery and lithe and just right. With, yep, slighty fluffy/furry tannins riding right on that slightly acid sweat. 

Vigna Cantina Barossa Valley Sangiovese 2014 ($25; 14% alcohol; screw cap) is the most complex and angular wine so far, being a kind of a smudge of a hybrid of all the above but sharpened up with a hint of anise and a touch of that peaty kitchen stove in the Malocchio. And then more musky confection. It's a magic drink. After all that conjuring and masque it just seems to slither away down the mouth in a quick wriggling taper and it's gone. Boo-hoo-hoo. But there's a dark nebbia of tannin hovering there, and you think again and there's really appetising acid there in the most slender form, and then fresh raspberries and even pomegranate juice slink outa the dark ... 

Freeman Secco Rondinella Corvina 2012 ($40; 14.5% alcohol;screw cap) is grown and made by Prof (ret.) Freeman at Hilltops on the broad uplands near Young. After a lifetime teaching people about grape vines, he imported and in 1999 first established the Rondinella and Corvina varieties which are now right here in this really lovely wine. Like the Azzardo, it was made from deliberately raisined grapes, although Freeman makes fair mileage from the fact that he shrinks his berries in a Prunevale neighbour's prune dehydrator. As somebody who puts Trinidad scorpion chillies in the dehydrator with sliced bananas for drying, to great effect, this makes me wonder at the incredible possibilities of crossover flavour the Prof could get in that hotbox. Like, prunes? Pineapple? Lavendar? Violets?

Stop. When I sniff this wine I shrivel. Then I melt. No reason to change this lovely fragrance. It is masterly. Complex. Composed. Sauvage. Sophisticated. Drink expectantly ... once again, behind the flaps it's a lithe, dry, blistered black bat of a drink, you guessed it, with real short furry tannin.

It is the most distinctive of these wines, which are all new styles for Australia.

And while I'm starting to suspect that furry wines must be like bears breeding all over Italy, I must admit that these ones don't gloop me up, they all make me starving dribbling hungry and none of them taste like Cabernet or Shiraz. Not even the Shiraz. Removes gloves for kiss. Sorry! I already took 'em off. Bring it on.

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