“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)





20 January 2017


photo©Philip White
Longhop Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2016 
($18; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) 

One of those bottles that emptied before the ink came outa the nib - like jeez where'd that go? - this creamy, reassuring, devilishly slick dainty is all silky unction and yum. My favourite whites lately seem to have buttery pear characters in common, like the Rocha, Anjou and luxurious Comice: perfect pears to slurp with a Port Salut or real crunchy Parmigiano-Reggiano. This drink has the pear in its flavour, and yells out for more of it on the plate. With that cheese. Eighteen bucks. Into it! 

Longhop Adelaide Hills Premier Cuvée Pinot Noir Chardonnay 
($20; 13% alcohol; cork) 

Another fancy from the maverick Tim Freeland/Dominic Torzi hombres, this Kersbrook-grown fizz stands bravely beside much posher Hills sparklers like the venerable O'Leary-Walker Hurtle and the knockouts from Deviation Road. Of course it has little of their grandiloquence, but you don't expect it at this itty bitty spend. Keep them for the Good Room. This one's a kitchen or veranda jobbie. It's musky and kinda smoky and buttery like really good organic coconut butter before they put any of that horrid fake coconut essence in it to make it stink too much like fake coconut. No stink here, just that buttery flesh in abundance and the sort of promise that makes it a very easy decision to arrest the wine's development quick smart. Via the kidneys. No second thoughts. Without any need for apology, it's a drinker, not a thinker. But that buttery bit of it would be disgusting with scallops on the half shell, cooked with soy, grated ginger and mandarin peel and garnished with spring onion shreds. Ewie. 

The author with winemaker/graphic artist/designer Tim Freeland at the launch of Evidence of Vineyards on Mars a few years back ... photo Dave Hinds

Old Plains Power Of One Old Vines Adelaide Plains Shiraz 2014 
($35; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap) 

Just to explain, Torzi-Matthews makes ravishing wines from the Barossa and its Ranges, while Torzi and Freeland make Longhop wines from the Hills and rare beauties from some of the last vineyards surviving amongst the Tupperware Tuscany villa rash that has devoured so much of the rich market garden country on the plains to the north of Adelaide.

An Old Plains vineyard: Frank Gagliardi's vines, almonds and hothouses holding the houses off... note how the mega-sensitive town planners have designed the roads ... productive land is such an inconvenience!

This bastard sucks all the light outa the room. It is a black hole. While it shows the light no mercy, somehow, feeling already robbed, it lets some perfume escape. I mean I can feel its curmudgeonly claws grasping at that precious scent, wanting it all back for itself, but sinister glints of blackberry and mulberry sneak out through the carbon cracks with black Iberian ham and blood pudding and all sorts of carnal glory. Those fermented meats riddle its flavour, too: it's like an unholy fruit mince with heaps of suet. A kind of black meat and berries cassoulet or something: hearty and rustic, yet polished. It has all that intensity, yet bugger-all discernable tannin. It simply slides away. All too easy. Pretty good duck wine. Or Zucchini bird soup with ground chestnuts, fresh tarragon and heapsa cream.

The Great Zucchini Bird ... and here's Max and Thellie Schubert with Jack and Lea Minnett and Lindsay Stanley at the Minnett's Anglesey Estate on a lovely day in the early 'eighties ... Max loved to visit his favourite Adelaide Plains vineyards ... he bought lots of fruit there for his Penfolds premiums ... he said he used Plains Grenache in a few Granges to help them win medals as young show wines, but this is not in any books ... not surprising ...  Lindsay was the Anglesey winemaker ... that's all houses now ... the Minnetts and the Schuberts are all deceased ... that was a great day we had ... lots of laughter ... photos©Philip White

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