“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)





11 February 2017


Heirloom Vineyards Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio 2016 
$30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap 

There's no point attempting to grow the grey/gris/grigio breed of the Pinot that's usually noir if you can't grow the latter version well, which means special cool in a slice of country to die for, even/especially on blistering days like these.

Somehow this cracker smells like the sort of Burgundian cooperage I remember sniffing in a cherry-red noir from Morey-St-Denis just after the war but it hasn't one splinter of oak, meaning that vineyard's even better than all the above specs: this acrid canteloupe-peel/burlap/hemp complexity comes from very clever viticulture in grand terroir, hand-selected bunches and really smart and sensitive steering through the ferment division.  Although I suspect the winemaker showed the tank a photograph of a barrel to inspire the bugger, just as the best dry martini's made by washing a green olive in ice and gin and you sink the lot straight from the shaker while a barber shop quartet of sommeliers stands back chanting "vermouth, vermouth, vermouth" and that's all the vermouth you need. 

Best grigio I've had in yonks: clean, complex, crisp, viscous and capable of handling the sort of extreme refrigeration you wish you could afford if there was any electricity in your wires. Spaghetti vongole, proper parmesan and don't spare the pepper, puleeeeez.

Heirloom Vineyards Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 
$30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap 

Rich, creamy, leesy, port-salut-cheesy, honeydew melon fruit seasoned with a perfect dollop of French oak that smells all the world like soft fresh mace with maybe a shred of curry tree leaf ... this is Chardonnay for that red drinker who'd be the last to cross to the blanched world even when the temperature's so intensely blistering the only thing you hear as your final battery expires is Tom Koutsantonis screaming at somebody in the electricity department right before your phone rings with some officious beeaaartch in the Philippines calling on behalf of Simply Energy to scream some more in that measured schoolmarm coltralto that doesn't quite seem like real screaming but it is actually and she's lecturing you to extort money for the power you're not getting and you find yourself tempted to tell her you hope her president's ghouls are coming up her alley with bones in their noses and bloody great waddies with spikes in them ... you get my drift ... so before the fridge gets all ovenly slice up some radishes, some red torpedo Italian onions, some basil leaves and flowers, some habanero, koroniki olives, a baguette and dammit some port-salut and take a handful of pacifying valerian or even better a bottle of this lovely thing FAST hold your nose and pull the goddam chain. 

Heirloom Vineyards Eden Valley Riesling 2016 
$30; 10.5% alcohol; screw cap 

Grown in a different place (the hotter, rockier old Eden Valley), from a Germanic variety instead of Burgundian (like the two blancs above), this sublime rizza has a fumé tone very much like theirs. It is indeed smoky as much as acrid, as if one of them High Eden hillsbilly's striking two flints together on tinder to start a fire already (God and Martin Luther forbid) to drive the heat-exchanger in pursuit of a whiff of cool enlivening air. Wild yeast on wild country fruit and nine months on the spent yeast lees gives the drink a complexity you rarely see in Oz Riesling: the usual lime-and-lemon austerity is covered in many layers of ginger-bready biscuits and even a decorative wrap of that hempy hessian we see in the Pinot grigio. It reminds me of the Clare Rieslings the brilliant Alsace winemaker Michel Dietrich made at Quelltaler (to much ridicule from the Nazi show judges) in the early 'eighties. Jeez they were good drinks. He wisely went home. Now, all those decades later, we may just be ready for it. But don't wait for the judges to twig. A great drink for gazpacho, If you can get anything cold. Jeez. Chiz. Good luck.

Michel and Isobel Dietrich on the ridge south of Quelltaler, overlooking the great Clare Valley Watervale slope to the south. I call it the Côte de blanc.
Michel was from Alsace, Isobel from Champagne. Through the generosity with which they drowned me in the their family wines, they taught me a great deal about white grapes and what one can do with them. Michel came in time for 1982 vintage; Isobel after their marriage a couple of years later. Respect. Since then they make lovely wines in Bordeaux.

Rocco, Brooks' winemaking partner in Portugal last time I saw either of em. What I gotta get is the interview with the Australian winemaker. Trust Unca Philip. She's gotta be in our front rank.

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