“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)





12 August 2017


All pruned and ready to roll: there's plenty of æolean, or wind-blown sand at Yangarra: this High Sands Grenache thrives in its big dune. 

It's not seaside dunal sand, but stuff that simply blew in during the last few thousand years. 

A few metres down you hit a layer of red clay peppered with ironstone. Below that lies the 200-300 metres of coarse Maslin Sand, which washed down from the mountains that lived up the escarpment until they all wore off.

When my neighbour Bernard Smart planted this in 1946 the vines went so well without water they doubled the vineyard the next year. That summer it got hot and dry and windy and the dune moved to bury that new section. Imagine that vineyard you can see simply disappearing under drift sand.

So we know that if you clear the native vegetation and the grass dies, all of what we colloquially call 'Blewett Springs sand' can move quite readily. 

Standard industrial viticulture, with all its repetitive tractor work and sprays, is the enemy of the native Echidna, or spiny anteater. 

With the platypus, the Echidna - Tachyglossidae - is the only monotreme. Both critters lay eggs and carry them in a pouch. 

Echidnas love sand. They are expert and rapid diggers in the right terrain. 

Now, nine years since the Yangarra crew abandoned the old conventional management regime to convert to organic and biodynamic practice, it  seems the Echidnas are returning. 

This fat greedy guts, now called Spike, scared the daylight out of Neva the Cleaner, who found it this lunchtime in the pristine winery lab.

No ants there: poor old Spike was in a panic! It didn't want to go in the bin.

As you can see, I've had a long-term affinity for Echidnas. I kept a pet one in the mountains when I was a kid. But I dunno where George got the panda. We'd been joking round the campfire about the Dadaists, who got their name for their habit, when being presented in the courthouse for obscenity or other errant artisitic behaviour, sang da-da-da-da, da-da-dadada to the tune of the French national anthem ... 

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