Purple Reigns Supreme

Who doesn’t like the colour purple? No, not the Spielberg movie from the ‘80s.

Purple, the colour, is so popular everyone would paint their houses purple, buy purple ice-creams and purple clothes except they know it is a special colour and shouldn’t be overdone, which is why no car manufacturer has made a properly purple car since Chrysler ceased production of the Charger back in the ‘70s when Deep Purple reigned stages and airwaves.

No parent has since called their child Alvin since then either, but that’s another story.

Purple has been the colour of royalty since the stone age, when the leader of the tribe would colour his woolly mammoth coat with naturally occurring, but rare, purple pigments.

In Roman days purple continued to be the colour of choice for those giving the thumbs up or down for the poor hapless white-garmented Christians battling it out with gladiators and lions in the Colosseum.

White was the colour chosen for those poor buggers because it showed up blood the best in the days before the action replays, slo-mo’s and extreme close-ups that we enjoy in our blood-sports today such as wombat-hunting, horse racing, greyhound racing, rugby league and cricket.

Eventually when Christianity got a foothold and Christians became those Romans, Richard the Lionheart fed others to the lions while the upper echelons of the hierarchy wore purple, rubbing it in the noses of all those purple wearing Caesars.

So the use of purple in clerical gowns continues to this day which segues nicely to the use of purple in music, most notably Jim Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze – Jesus saves’, which was the original title of his famous song, the meaning of which no-one can remember nor agree except that it’s undoubtedly about drugs, and lots of them, which pretty much explains why.

Clearly the artist known as Prince, then not, then Prince again, then not because he died of a drug overdose, had taken a few too many before penning his classic ‘Purple Rain’ about which he offered the following explanation : “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.”

Yeah, Man, I know what you mean, pass me another number would you? That was 1984, but purple rain is falling again and not only metaphorically as the jacaranda blossoms get blown from their perch in spring storms. A Western Australian winery has jumped on the purple band wagon and released a bold new wine, aptly named Purple Reign.

No, it’s no bright young red exhibiting gorgeous purple hues around the meniscus, this is a fair dinkum purple (or lilac for aficionados, but Lilac Reign doesn’t have the same ring to it) ‘white wine’, indeed it’s a proper semillon/sauvignon blanc (2018 vintage, $20) which despite its disturbing tone is actually not too shabby and registers 8.9/10 on the Max Crus Richter scale. According to the makers, Raw Vine Estate, the wine is “enhanced with plant based natural antioxidants to minimise the use of sulphites and to create a unique new colour and vibrancy, this lush style wine exhibits a hint of grass and a touch of minerals.”

The colour might not be for everyone but that it’s the perfect wine for Grafton’s Jacaranda Queen, thus bringing the whole purple thing full circle, back to its royal roots, and well, who can resist something purple, whether it’s your boysenberry ice-cream or, now, your sem’ sav’ blanc.

Max Crus is a Clarence Valley-based wine writer and author of weekly column Grape Expectations which is now into its 24th year of publication.