Just occasionally the contents of my work day are too difficult to contain. I speak and debrief and yet the images and words and sorrow, it's inevitably sorrow, they continue to overflow, spilling into my sleep and family time. The tide does recede, in the interim fiddling in the kitchen making pickles is my choice of psychotherapy.

A packet of baby cucumbers, 13 in total and an assortment of tiny (less than 500 ml) glass jars. For the first pair of bottles a solution consisting of - 2 cups of water, the same amount of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of salt, a small handful of fresh dill fronds and a tablespoon each of dried dill and coriander seeds.

For the unseen second pickle the four cucumbers where trimmed (top and tailed to fit the smaller jar) and halved lengthways.

Four nuggets of information from the detailed back label - a run of 860 bottles, the vines still have their own roots (uncommon), and were planted in 1995. The clone is the tightly bunched I10V1.

Coiled and tight, mineral and sappy in the mouth, the acids seem hard and green edged; it seems to quiver. . . Flint and curry leaf, baking spices. It's playfully electric and gripping on the tongue. Yes.

A pair of Mornington Peninsula wines from 2012. Both circa $40/bottle, well made and enjoyable, but perhaps a little too safe and predictable. The chardonnay has a nice line, not too broad, but still hefty and firm. Grapefruit and citrus pith, a strike of flint and a seam of butterscotch. Unsurprising. The red of the pair is larger and more alcoholic, presumably it will please more, but I found it overwrought and heavy. Full and plush, undergrowth and cherry; plump with a char tail.http://feeds.

Some explanatory notes.

1. I'm slightly obsessed with Brett. My attitude has softened as it has become less common.

2. An AWRI paper reports that the average Cabernet from the year 2000 contained a 4 - EP concentration of 1000 ppb (well above the sensory threshold)  by 2005 this was down to 100ppb (well below the sensory threshold of 300-600 ppb).

3. The main cause for this reduction is the adoption of different SO2 practices.

Take a large aubergine and pierce the capped end a few times and then char the outside on a gas burner. Turn every few minutes and continue until the eggplant is blackened and smoking. Cool momentarily and then slice in half and scoop out the now soft flesh. Let some of the liquid drain away and the mash the fruit roughly with a large spoon.

While the aubergine cools prepare the other ingredients.

13.5%. Canberra. Something new and previously hidden. Tasted after the Testalonga, this seemed to be very similar in method, though less intense and focused. To my blinded mouth, it seemed to be macerated and inspired by the wines of Beaujolais. Cherry and raspberry, frontal and bright. I scribbled (incorrectly, yet another blind tasting blunder, though this time understandable) gamay in my note book.

Image: red velvet cup cake wrapper.

South African shiraz.

Tasted blind, my brother in law called it a gamay. . . you can understand why, it's primary, and without too much effort you can imagine early picking, macerated fruit, whole bunches and confection. Raspberry, thyme and rubber on the nose. It's searing and intense in mouth; tart, hard and fast. My first impulse was to call it brilliant. . .

Not all grape tannins are the same. Seed tannins are generally the smallest (2-17 degrees of polymerisation - DP), while those from the stem are middle sized (4-28 DP) when compared to the larger skin tannins (3-83 DP).  This is of tactile importance - the smaller tannins taste bitter, while the larger ones are more astringent.

Grape tannins are more linear and are not the same as wine tannins.

It's been a little more than a month since I optimistically planted my left over turmeric. The tubers were starting to grow mouldy, though clearly turmeric is hardy and resistant to a few weeks of refrigeration and the mistakes of a wino gardener. Green shoots have started to emerge and I could not stop myself from digging it up to inspect.


Complex and full of nuance. Citrus pith, cream and flint. Sweet nougat and blood orange in the mouth, it's plush and convincing. With my blinkers on, perhaps it is fractionally short and ever so slightly sweet, but this misses the point and the overt brilliance of the wine. Yes.