“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)





04 March 2017


Surprised by a bout of vicious summer flu right at the time I was about to have a shot for the regular winter marauder, red wine has hardly been foremost on the mushy White brain. But a few days back, tired of chewing the raw Red Torpedo Onions and chillies in my gloopy Brandy Marys, and forgetting in my fever that the ambient temperature was only a nudge under 40ᵒC, I poured a glass of J. Petrucci & Son McLaren Vale Nero d'Avola 2014 ($30; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap). It was all simply too bloody hot. So I put the red in the fridge to get it closer to cellar temperature, and made myself another Brandy Mary. 

Two days later, I discovered the Nero nearly frozen and wondered how it would look to a bloke like me in a dishevelled state like that. 

Most red wines have tannins that don't take well to chilling: the gentle fruit textures seem to thin out in comparison, leaving a sharp dry edge requiring the sort of cushioning sugars you'll find in most Lambrusco. 

So I was surpised to find the cold Nero was instead full of gentle charcuterie meats and chocolatey fruitcake. Rather than its tannins appearing harsh and abrasive, they retained their lovely velvet. 

I had another before returning to the couch. Delicious!

Joe and Michael Petrucci ... all photos©Philip White 
Next day the kindly Coriole man delivered two reds from what Mark Lloyd and his crew call their New Australian Collection: a Negroamaro and a Nero d'Avola, simply called Nero - Avola is the southern Sicilian town famous for its Nero. When I recalled the success of the chilled Petrucci wine he suggested the Negroamaro would perform a similar trick. 

But first call was the Coriole McLaren Vale Nero 2016 ($25; 14% alcohol; screw cap) while I still had some of the Petrucci Nero. This one oozes a similar fragrance: cozy, comforting, fleshy fruit and fresh pink charcuterie meats in a waft of heady perfume: perhaps a little more polished than the previous. The palate, too seems more silky than the velvet of the other, perhaps high-lighted by a little extra acidity - it does appear less ripe.

And yep, it's not so rewarding with a hard chill: a mere ten minutes' ice bucket or a dash of fridge is sufficient. Or a small block of ice in each glass. This is one for your antipasto.

The Coriole McLaren Vale Negroamaro 2016 ($25; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap) is paler: like with many Pinots noir and Nebbiolo reds, I can see my fingers through the glass of wine. Its aroma has a pink mortadella gaminess similar to the Petrucci Nero, with a dark glint of leather and coal tar way below: usually a hint at tannins that might not like a chilling. It seems altogether a more rustic tincture than the other two. On the other hand, it does remind me of the bouquet of some of the better dry Lambruscos. Its flavours are savoury and sufficiently appetising to pull nearly all my pasta triggers. 

Chilled, it works beautifully, but in a very different way to the Petrucci. The cold seems to highlight the wine's freshness, drawing it into a finer balance than it shows at room temperature, whatever that is.

Coriole winemaker Alex Shirrah... all photos©Philip White 

In summary, the Coriole Negroamaro is the most slender, refreshing wine to drink with a modest chill. The Petrucci Nero d'Avola is a bigger, more soulful and velvety wine to have at similarly low temperatures, maybe lower. And the Coriole Nero is the one for serving at modest cellar temperature, say around 15-17ᵒC, with your antipasto.

If you disagree, blame it on the addling influence of my dreaded summer flu.

Best to buy all three and go play somewhere cool, eh?

PS: Remember to take your madicine, son!
if you're forgotten your flu shot, try a shot of this: 

If it's stronger medicine of a more arterial colour you require,  here's the approximate formula for the DRINKSTER's Bloody Mary du Jour, Summer of '17 model:

Take one imperial pint glass, chilled 


1 teaspoon Angostura Bitters 
1 teaspoon Tabasco Habanero Sauce 
1 teaspoon CB's Old Fashioned Quinine 
2 teaspoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce 

wind this mix thoroughly around the glass to coat it to its brim


fresh juice of one lemon and one lime
1 soupspoon good young Japanese soy sauce 
1 oz juice from pickled kalamata olives 
1 oz Patritti Marion Vineyard Grenache Shiraz Verjuice 
1 cup Lucia's Premium Passata 
1 soupspoon Freeman's Dolcino 2015 
2-3 oz freezing Absolut Vodka

stir gently so as to leave some of the initial coating on the glass

fill with big ice and soda or cold water - I like to carbonate cold Ku Ding Cha or a less bitter China green tea in my SodaKing and use it in place of soda


thin slices of fresh:

Italian red torpedo onion (Rossa de tropea) 
habanero chilli 
ginger root
flower stem and leaf or two of of fresh basil

sprinkle salt and fresh-ground black pepper on top

To make the more fiery Brandy Mary, simply replace the vodka with brandy.

Apply by mouth: make sure you eat all your vegetables: I treat this a bit like gazpacho: food as much as drink or madicine.


No comments: