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Sweet little 'sixteens


Whitey gets lost between old and new fashion, with a 2016 Ashton Hills Pinot Noir and 2016 Wirra Wirra Original Blend Grenache Shiraz.

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Now here’s a thing. After all the talk about Grenache being the Pinot of McLaren Vale, here’s a Pinot I first thought may have been made like a Grenache! This is a richer, more conservey Pinot than I know the Ashton Hills Vineyard can produce. Which means it would probably have begun to lose acidity as those ripenesses grew so bounteous and maybe has lost a few of them acidities. Yep.

When I read the back label where the bottom line of the fine print says “five clones included in the blend”, I shed a bit of ab oracular gush thinking that Stephen Gorge had tried 22 clones in that vineyard in our adult lifetimes before he sold it. To finally settle on these five. You know anybody who’s done anything like that? Like selected and located the clone, grown it, matured it, made wine from it, waited for the wine to mature and then said “Nup?” Over and over and over again? Nup.

The Ashton Hills Piccadilly Valley Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2016 ($35; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap) is the first full-bore Pinot offering since Wirra Wirra’s purchase of this business, with the vendor’s complicity and ongoing input. It’s a real juicy ripe sort of drink, like the cherry fortified I used to buy from a moonshine potter bloke in Corkscrew Gully. Not that strong, of course. Not nearly that strong. I don’t mean porty. But plenty of easy L-O-L-A Lola type cherry cola without being dumb about it. No phosphoric acid like Coke. Then I realise it’s the fruit of that vintage, which was early high rich and ripe. It includes fruit from a couple of neighbours. This is a maraschino Pinot: a shuffle with bubblegum and a cocktail umbrella and smudged mascara. Not enough shoulders left tonight to hold that wisp of crimson silk up. But the freckles are pulsating.

While I perjure myself putting these two in such a derby, I find happiness wondring whether their vibrant juicy jujubity and slurp is in fact old, or new-fashioned. I could accept it joining the neo-Mennonite bearded classware. Which, like The Band’s second album, was, and still is, both.

After the ease of the Pinot, Wirra Wirra Original Blend McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz 2016 ($25; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap) has more of a prickle about it. This has a precisely refined, sharpened aroma, like those hand-beaten folds of carbon and steel in a Damascus blade. And their greasy strop. But ew jeez it’s still a gooey thing. This is a resurrection of Wirra Wirra conductor Greg Trott’s original blend. Oh it says that, doesn’t it? Sorry, this is very emotional. I was sort of pervertedly hoping it would be more Pinot than the Ashton Hills but nah that was silly. It’s all ripe raspberry and sugared aniseed rings as well as shockin easy juicy bouncy business like pomegranate and some sort of ripe red citrus like blood orange. Viscous and easy.

And now, after all that air while I took its portrait, it’s sharpening like sherbert. Like its acid. That’s naughty. Tart. Layers, see. It was puckering. Goodness me.

I dunno just what the Good Lord thought he was doing when he drew in the weather and the rocks and the hoardes of suicidal yeasts to do these things but there you are. My old man used to tell him – like God the Father – that he had the wind in his fists, which I always felt he must have taken as good advice from a crazy hillbilly earthling who was full-bore sucking up to him just in case. Like if you were God the Father, and you created wind when you were bored, would you need another flea-like creation from Kanmantoo telling you you had the wind in your fists?

And then Trott had three archbishops at his funeral. In the name of the father, the name of the son, and into the hole he goes …

Forget the old men now. Get your glass around these sweet little ‘sixteens. Watch ’em go!

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