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Decanter \ Ben Thomas gets a taste for summer



ach year as the weather warms up we for hundreds of years, and Margaret look towards summer trends in wine. River, arguably the home of Australian In the past few years it has been savoury Bordeaux-style wines, has been doing it for 30 rosé, barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc or the years. new wave of lean, refreshing chardonnay. The success of pinot noir and chardonnay I’m no oracle, but I reckon this year it’s time in the Yarra Valley in recent years has taken to turn back the clock and start drinking an the focus away from the fact the region was often-forgotten, highly refreshing white: the first planted with such grapes as cabernet semillon sauvignon blanc blend. It isn’t as sauvignon, merlot and semillon by the region’s fashionable as straight sauvignon blanc, or as early pioneers. These still excel. pretty as pink, but it’s a bloody good drink. “When Margaret River was identified as a I must admit to being guilty of ignoring high-quality, fine-wine producing region, this blend, too. Rather than put the particularly for the Bordeaux varieties, sem sav samples that arrive straight people ran around planting cabernet “it’s time into the fridge, they tend to pile up sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, to turn at our house until I line a bunch up and for whites they went for semillon back the for tasting. and sauvignon blanc for white wine,” Every time I promise myself says Margaret River winemaker clock” to drink more of it. This year I’m Brad Wehr, who makes a semillon going to stick to the promise. If you’re sauvignon blanc under the Wine By getting a bit sick of sav blanc or looking Brad label. for a change – as many people tell me they “I like semillon and sauvignon blanc are – the sem/sav blend, or sav/sem in many on their own but, when you stick the two cases, makes a really good change. together, you start to think, ‘well, that’s the There’s one slight problem with these wines best way to have them’. Semillon is more in the – tracking them down. Semillon sauvignon line of citrus fruit characters and sauvignon blanc’s waning popularity means they’re blanc is more in line with tropical, pineapple literally disappearing from our shelves. A characters, and the pair together provide a real few years ago major wine shops had sections fruit salad cocktail.” dedicated to semillon sauvignon blanc blends It’s not just the flavours that combine so – now you’re likely to find them filed under neatly, but the steely acid of semillon balances “other” whites. out sav blanc’s often fruit-forward structure. They’ve been doing the blend in the “In terms of structural elements, I call illustrious Bordeaux region of France semillon the base wine, which forms a

cushiony mattress that provides a bed for the sauvignon blanc to sit on,” says Wehr. “In the nose department, the semillon has the citrus, grassy characters and

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sauvignon has the higher notes – the tropicals and florals – and together they make a great blend.” \

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