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Surrender to these Long Line reds


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Whitey has found two impenetrable black drinks of a very high order, appropriately available in very limited quantities, but at a tiny price considering their scarcity and refinement.

Long Line Wines Albright McLaren Vale Grenache 2012
$26; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 60 cases made; 94++ points

Paul “Carps” Carpenter makes Long Line in his spare time – he’s a winemaker at Wirra Wirra otherwise. He squeezed this beautiful fruit from two ancient dry-grown vineyards in the old rocks of the Onkaparinga Gorge. Some of it’s from Bernard Smart’s legendary hilltop vineyard south of Clarendon, just across the river. Bernard’s old vines seem to crawl along the ground like giant grubs, as if it’s simply too much effort to reach for the sky. Famous winemakers queue up for a bucket or two of his precious fruit. This wine is freakishly pure and smooth. It has the silky sheen that only the very best old Grenache vines seem capable of delivering. Carps’ obsessive winemaking seems to have polished an extra layer of the fruit clean away, leaving the lustre of the wine’s holy soul to glower there in the glass with its rudely exposed, pumping heart. It smells like black roses; like Valrhona cooking chocolate; like blood. It has the most alluring silky texture – its tannin is so fine it’s barely there.  Rather than confront the drinker with velvet, satin or furry tannins, its snaky sinuousity seems to slide across the palate like a very shiny black snake.  Rather than the Pinot-like cherries of many of the Vales’ best Grenache, this one’s more inky and dense, perhaps after the style of the slicker Barossa versions, like, say, Greenock Creek. It makes me wonder where I could get me a fire-blackened haunch of venison. Like right now. With big dark field mushrooms and beetroot cooked in red wine with juniper berries and bay leaf. Swoon. Dribble. Surrender.

Long Line Blood Knot McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2012
$26; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 380 cases made; 94+++ points

The nickname Carps has a certain wry irony: the winemaker’s dad was a professional fisherman at the Murray Mouth. While Albright is a knot connecting two lines of differing thickness, the Blood Knot is best for tying two lengths of equal line without losing strength. There’s no strength missing here. The two vineyards are in the hills east of Willunga at Hope Forest – a place stupidly called the Adelaide Hills by the wine industry’s official appellation people – and Blewett Springs, just over the ridge from me. Once again, the wine reflects the intensely studious attitude of its maker: it’s like a compressed lozenge made from its dense, silky components, then somehow skinned once again, so only its visceral innards remain. It has a little more tannin than the Grenache, leaving a few dusty grains of ink powder on the tongue after all that blackness takes its plunge into you. Maybe the Blood Knot here connects the micro surgeon part of Carps to his blacksmith side: rarely will you find a Shiraz so compressed and dense, but forensically exposed. It’s tied so tight it will take decades to unfold, and swell back to its full mature corpulence. These wines are ridiculously cheap for their extreme quality. If a bigger mob had managed to secure such fruit, they’d be charging four or five times this price. Lap ’em up direct from before any middlemen get between you and jack those prices up.



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