“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 December 2016


It wasn't a white Exmess, but it threw everything else at us: the vile, treacherous weather that whipped again through the wine lands of South Australia in the last week sure made a mess of the festive season. This is a mid-afternoon view of the vineyards from my bedroom window. A lot of those big boughs are down now. It was simply too dangerous to step outside. Even the tables at The Exeter emptied. It was hot wild and wet. King-hell thunder, lightning and the odd volley of hail. Singapore weather with free ice hurtling from the heavens. Widespread flash-flooding then blackouts as thousands of trees came down, many across power lines; phone services and internet were out for days for entire districts.

By last evening (Wednesday) things looked a little better on my (western) side of the South Mount Lofty Ranges in McLaren Vale. The second hook of the huge tropical storm instead made its way down the eastern side and moved on through the South Australian Riverland, the  Limestone Coast and Coonawarra to Victoria, which is taking a vicious thrashing as I write. Such tropical weirdness is a very rare thing in these sunny southern climes. 

Then today (Thursday), contrary to a forecast which warned of rain every day through to to next Tuesday, the skies cleared and a steady breeze of much lower humidity blessed the vignoble, easing the very real threat of rampant mildews and moulds for some.

After a very very wet winter and early summer, many vineyards carry an unseemly head of foliage and a huge crop. Too big, methinks. Hedging, bunch and shoot-thinning required!

So the DRINKSTER took the afternoon off from clearing up the storm's mess, and settled in under a brolly at Shottesbrooke to watch the formidable Kelly Menhennett play a few relaxed sets as part of McLaren Vale's Twilight Tastings festival, which fills the afternoons and evenings at participating wineries between Boxing Day and New Year.

After Kelly closed with an impromptu duet with Taasha Coates of The Audreys, we all siphoned ourselves home safely to face what appears to be a much better forecast than the previous, with cooler days of lower humidity and solid sunshine next week. 

Fingers crossed. No, touch wood. Go hug your best Vosges puncheon.  

Bacchus only knows the amounts of food that's had to be discarded as deep-freezers and refrigerators failed in the tropical heat through the blackout. I threw a risky stir-fry out on the headland for the magpies, but one of my landlord's work dogs got to it first and ended up at the vet's having its stomach pumped. Dogs, I learned, are allergic to onions. The Trinidad scorpions wouldna helped the poor critter.

This shot of Taash and Kelly by Milton Wordley; all others by Philip White

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