An unintended wino sapien hiatus. I've been preoccupied with family and work and my solace of late has been my ever growing pile of bedside literature. I still think about wine, but when I do, it's in the future, something for another day. . .

I sniff at this without any particular connection. It's secondary and savoury. An effective if not beautiful amalgam of spice, fat and cedar. Grainy and gripping, a little leafy and wilted, but it's mostly about the stern tannins, rushed and in the middle.

Milan Kundera's latest book. The recipient of extremely faint praise.

The Guardian complains about the Ham fisted flourishes of authorial interjection, and suggests that it is lacking in political or artistic urgency. While the New York Times calls it a flimsy novella an extremely slight musing on people's proclivities for pranks, lies and perverse choices.

These comments seem true while missing the charm and joy of the book.

The photo and the bottle were acquired a few months ago, possibly on the same day. In the distance Castle rock, still partially in shadow. The SRS on the label refers to sub region series, in this case Walcliffe, some forty or fifty kilometres further south. The mostly white cellar door is curiously and strategically ectopic - it's in Dunsborough off the highway and close to all the tourists and away from the vines and the older and more established competition.

On China.

Buy me the sky. Cloying, motherly and anecdotal; each chapter describes a different young adult, who is the product of China's one child policy, it's repetitive and hard to digest, with each chapter highlighting one young person's inadequacy and general inability to deal with the rigours of independent life. There's Firewood, Shiny, Glittering, Golden Swallow, Flying Fish and several others. . . the stories blur into each other without resonating.

I'm a fan of Brash Higgins, every wine I've tried has been persuasive and joyous. The vowel free labelling is clever and the bottles are well priced. This is quite a simple crowd pleasing wine, sub $30, a clear and varietal nose (tobacco and tomato leaf) and disarming warmth and creamy milk chocolate in the mouth. It's been macerated on skins and that together with the McLaren Vale heat has made this curiously soft and cuddly.

A dark and sticky braised pork was the chosen food match.

I found this the least appealing of the three (1 and 2), it's too squeaky and tart, even for me, an acid freak. It starts well enough, pale and unfiltered; rose petal, sap and spice, green sticks and rhubarb. Very sour and edgy, jagged and unsettling, it feels hollow and by nights end it just seems wrong. The gangly awkward acidity (less jarring on day 2) and the emergence of sticking plaster on the finish does not endear.

From the opening chapter of Levi's The Periodic Table:

There are the so-called inert gases in the air we breath. They bear curious Greek names of erudite derivation which mean 'the New,' 'the Hidden,' 'the Inactive,' and 'the Alien.' They are indeed so inert, so satisfied with their condition, they do not interfere in any chemical reaction, do not combine with any other element. . .

Mid winter and I've turned my front yard into a radish farm of sorts. . .

For the pickle -

Slice and cut the radish into thick batons and place into a suitable jar. Then prepare the pickling solution. In this case 1 part vinegar, 0.5 sugar, 0.5 water and a small amount of salt. More specifically for two radishes I used 1 cup of white vinegar, half a cup of sugar and half a cup of water and one teaspoon of salt.

My Italian is rusty from lack of tasting. . . it's been months since I've consciously tried an Italian red. There was a pair (2012 Fazio Nero d'A / 2011 Ronchi San Lorenzo Rosso) a few days ago but my mind was elsewhere and I had trouble following the vinous conversation. Despite the size, warmth and  grip I was left unmoved. . .

Day 1. This is a better (and more expensive) place to start. It's smaller in size, with more polish, poise and shape.

Brooding. Spiced and deep, once again it's prettiness with an undercurrent of animal.