Home' InDaily : August 6th 2010 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au
The Independent Weekly
August 6 - 12, 2010
Philip White http://drinkster.blogspot.com/
Pike called. He got me up off one
of my death beds and took me
to The Victory Hotel to chew
Used a bottle of his Marius
Symphony Shiraz 2004 as bait, did
"I got my new Halliday book,"
he said through a cloud of smoke.
"It gets delivered to every winery
in Australia on the same day ... I
live in the middle of nowhere with
no bloody sign on the gate and
there was a bloke with my Halliday
Winemakers should be very wor-
ried about wine-writing. Australia
now depends on one book. Robert
Parker comes to mind. Before I
harrumphed about whether any
winery d got less than five stars,
Pike fumed out a new paragraph.
"I ve got a great idea," he said.
"I should hire you to write a press
release about how many stars I got
and send you a copy of it. Then you
could put it in the paper."
It wouldna been funny if it
wasna so funny. No point sending
me the book, because I d discover
how many others got five stars.
Of course some makers truly
deserve them -- it s the only leverage
many get. But those deserving are
nervous about the others.
We gazed out over our whitebait,
not to use my name too lightly, and
watched the sun dance through the
squalls, turning the Gulf to chrome.
St Vincent, patron of viticulturers.
The Symphony swelled in its
decanter. Life doesn t get any better.
When Halliday s book comes
out, every pore of a winewriter s
epidermis clogs with press releases.
Winemakers send their awards by
phone, by Twitter, by Facebook,
email and snail. They ring, deliver
the results by hand: lists and points
and stars and enthusiasms about
the loveliness of it all. They get on
a plane and hammer out the good
news. Mistress coming over a tad
sullen the other side of the candle?
Cool! Great opportunity to bung off
a list of how fabulous the wines are.
One bloke sent me six. She musta
Stars are a dubious measure of
the quality of Australian wineries.
The starstruck who can afford it
feed an enormous PR industry to
counteract the bloggers and booze
critics from Tehachapi to Tonopah
who reckon Australian premiums
are too strong and gluggy, and the
cheapies are droll monocultural
Just plain wrong, these insolent
negativists. Critics don t under-
stand that their whingeing sends
irrigators broke, right while they re
making the best bladder packs this
side of bloody Betelgeuse. As if !
They won t accept, for
example, that Banrock Station is
a gastronomic and environmental
triumph,or the commitment
Constellation shows precious
heritage joints like Reynella and
Tintara. Instead they write about
the death of the river, Constellation
sacking all those people, frying
hundreds of growers and replacing
ancient five-star vine gardens with
All constellations are full of stars.
This transnational one, the biggest
wine company on Earth, could have
called itself The Universe. But it s
modest, see. It s leaving.
In Revelations, God promises to
give his son the Morning Star. It s
not a star, it s Venus, but at least he
identifies it. Maybe Halliday should
give an indicator of brightness.
Imagine getting Betelgeuse: a first
magnitude red giant; the brightest
star in Orion. There are billions
more flaming beauties up there.
Winemakers could then discover
the true shimmer of their duller
wines. I d like to see an Epsilon -- the
one sliding from the middle of the
Crux Australis, over to the right,
fading so dim now in the vineyard
smoke and dust that he s nearly
gone. Before Epsilon vanishes from
our flag I want one five-star refinery
to admit that its Premium Reserve
Dog s Duodenum Dumbugger Ridge
Garganaga is not quite as bright an
effort as the little bloke s next door,
making his wines with painstaking
respect, like Pike.
"PR Triple D wins Epsilon,"
the spin will sing, hoping that I ll
copy it all out for you. I could copy
out lists of Halliday stars all year
The Marius Symphony was in the
glasses now, in perfect pitch. Best
red I can remember from McLaren
Vale. Silk and velvet. Mahler.
"Wine Business Monthly did
an interview with Bobby-Jo by
Twitter," I told Pike. "140 charac-
ters. Asked him if Aussie wine was
on the comeback."
Another slow pull of Marius.
"What, Robert Joseph? What d he
"He said as long as Australian
writers use words like holocaust
the rest of the world will copy em.
Probly had characters to spare!"
The lofty London critic was refer-
ring to this column, of course. Our
April 30 headline said "Industry
holocaust can t be stopped". My
measured 4656 characters had
called for an independent inquiry
into the collapse of the Australian
"Record heatwaves, rivers dying,
vineyards on fire, Ringland in
receivership, Constellation pulling
out of Australia," I said, "that
sounds like a flaming sacrifice on a
large scale. That s what holocaust
has meant for 500 years."
The magnificent Marius shut us
right up then. Marius, son of Mars.
Mars is a planet, of course, a red
one. Just the one, but.
Roger Pike in his tiny Marius Vineyard with Sol, the local star, setting behind him.
Photo: Kate Elmes
Look beyond the stars
Coriole Vita Reserve
$50; 13.5% alcohol;
Coriole began its Sangiovese
affair in 1985, when the only
other committed producer was
the visionary Carlo Corlino at
Mudgee, who was too far ahead
of his time, went home to Italy,
and died. Having persisted,
this is Coriole's best effort yet:
intense yet elegant, soupy and
dark and velvety with
tannin, yet with prope
modest alcohol. It ha
that gamey, feathery,
plucked duck bouque
typical of the variety,
with prune and
mulberry below, and
just a hint of toasted
oak. It's still a big-
ger wine than most
and deserves hearty
game dishes, like
hare with beetroot,
or well-larded stag
Old Vine Barossa
Grenache Mataro Shiraz
14.5% alcohol; screw cap
This is the third week in a row
that a wine bearing Dominic
Torzi's determined imprint has
made these pages, this time
with the input of Veronique's
owners, Peter and Vicki Man-
ning. Low-yielding vineyards
from 45 to 95 years of age from
Greenock to Angaston have con-
tributed. Wild yeasts
open fermenters, wh
bunches and season
oak has released a
beautifully deep, sou
ful blend. The fruit is
alive and unctuous,
with that polished
silky sheen that
the best Grenache
provides. A wine
of this quality from
the south of France
would cost you at
least $50 more. It's
a stunner. These
It gets delivered to
every winery in Australia
on the same day ... I live
in the middle of nowhere
with no bloody sign on the
gate and there was a bloke
with my Halliday book.
-- Roger Pike
Cellar Treasures Weekend
14th and 15th August 2010
We're uncorking some
Take a rare opportunity to discover
the back vintages and museum
wines of the region while visiting
the welcoming cellar doors
throughout Langhorne Creek.
Or phone 08 8537 3017
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