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. It's like being disappointed that a village wine is light and simple and not as profound as the Grand cru bearing same names. . . The critics complain it's nothing like the Unbearable Lightness of Being, that it lacks stuffing, Kundera is dated and the world and the reader has moved on. . .

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.

It's Cantonese for paternal grandfather, though I expect they had other things in mind. . . It's a very clever and convincing wine, mostly riesling, but with a smaller component of viognier and gewürz. The nose seems to be all riesling, though it's worked and smouldering. Kaffir and curry leave, something struck but green. . . Crisp and fleet, the flesh of the other two appears only with warmth and time.