“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)





25 October 2017


Boho Adelaide winers will remember Cynthea and David Feldheim: Cyn for her clever winemaking at Hardy's; David for his role in the Sugar team at the East End club of that name; then his winemaking with Stephen Pannell. 

For years now they've lived and worked making their Beautiful Isle wines at Cyn's home place at Legana on the Tamar. This premium Peacock Series offers wines with more plush shimmer than many of the angular and acidic sharpies of the bonnie southern island: 

Beautiful Isle Tasmania Vintage Sparkling 2015 
($60; 12.2% alcohol; cork; 960 bottles)  

These clever folks know how to let some luxury grow in their suds. 

On the face of it, this is a sublime presentation of spicy honey syrup on a diced salad of everything from gooseberry to jackfruit in kirsch and lemon juice. Then I begin to catch chips of cindery honeycomb toffee and the rinds of various bitterish citrus. Some of it's toasted. Like that mandarin peel Mum would leave on the stove to make the house smell good. 

Then I discover its lively acidic depths. And its long slim cleeeaaaannnn flavour form. Folks, neath all that 'polstry and patina these wheels have a tight racing spaceframe lit to roll. 

When it's swallowed, it leaves a dry summer air thirst and then more of the fruit takes control with its saps and syrups and soon one feels all clean and oiled and fit for a looser toga. 

All the way through the story this saucy fantasy counterpoints the strawberry heart of Pinot with the steely form of Chardonnay.  I love a fizz that's like a little surrealist movie. 

The back label says "made with persuasion and encouragement to parade like a peacock." 
That worked! 

Beautiful Isle Tasmania Chardonnay 2016  
($40; 12.3% alcohol; screw cap; 1392 bottles) 

 Again it's lazy nostalgia, that hazy recollection of the autumnal edges of Chardonnay in the afternoon, winding this honeycomb/cinder toffee with grilled hazelnut and dry nutmeg-spiced mead affair beneath the oaks. After the same peacock mood as the fizz, this plushness weaves through those delicious grainy mid-tones Ken Russell and Billy Williams got onto the screen in Women In Love

As the sparkles did, this first presents those comforting promises. Then you find the fleshy white clingstone peach gushing forth, freshly-picked and peeled, and wander off up the rambutan/lychee/starfruit end of the market lane. Praised be! 

It's lovely, fresh, clean, peachy-cheeked wine. Sometimes I imagine a dollop of good yoghurt or sour cream on it; sometimes it's more along the lines of a peachy lemon sabayon with a flake of meringue on its spume. 

Dappled veranda in the afternoon: white anchovies; garfish; King George whiting grilled in a flash with lemon and pepper; crusty white bread with butter ... 

Beautiful Isle Tasmania Pinot Noir 2015  
($40; 13.2% alcohol; screw cap; 1416 bottles)  

This a beautifully rich, mellow wine. It is profound in its complexity and the deep retreats of its extremes. It is fresh and clean and yet somehow learned with the confidence of a few decades up the mountain in a robe like Leonard. 

I would prefer, mind you, to risk it in a spill across a table from Nina Persson: it works a-slurp with fresh herrings properly pickled with juniper and fennel. 

Not often you get a lovely fleshy Pinot that makes me go fish. 

It is an utterly easy slurp with the finest velvet finish. 

A day after first snapping that cap, it begins to remind me of the grand old Daimler David's Dad Sid lost to Max Harris in a card game. Or something lower and quicker: Back out here in the dickie seat I get the tannins of that great engine wafting on the breeze: perfect wine for medium-to-fast top-down touring after soft poached breakfast eggs with a scarf that won't strangle you if it gets caught in the wheel spinners. 

Today I'd prefer it with smoked snapper and shiitake or maybe enoki in a rice wine sauce ... 

Beautiful Isle Tasmania Syrah 2016  
($40; 13.6% alcohol; screw cap; 3465 bottles)  

Cyn made half this crop using full-bunch small batch techniques; David made the other half in what he calls the "big old McLaren Vale Shiraz manner" in a large open fermenter. 

While the original intention was to release the parcels as separate wines, one thing led to another and adventurous blending being the move of the times, here they are swimming together. 

I say swim because they'll get aboard and this flying boat will take off eventually: Cyn agrees that the two wings haven't quite stuck on the fuselage yet: the tighter cherries of the full bunch side have yet to admit the broader fruit cake of the trad batch into the co-operation game, but they'll get there: it'll fly right in a year or two when it looks more like a wine with an extra zero. 

In the meantime, it'll probably forgive you for bashing it round a bistro with a crusty wood-oven pizza or pasta. 

For once, I'd rather wait. It'll be well worth it.

Solomon, Aristotle, Cynthea and David Feldheim at home on the Tamar

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