Import Selection: Black Marlin, 1989. Black Opal

Black Marlin? I would prefer just calling it Semillon!

This month’s imported white wine comes from the celebrated Hunter River Valley in Northern Australia. Gaining a reputation of late of producing wines of distinc­tion, the Hunter River Valley has a history dating back to :1824 when a young Scot by the name of James Busby immigrated to Aus­tralia. Sort of a tinkerer by trade, he piddled in viticulture and as a result wrote a book or two.

The Richmond Grove winery is located in the upper Hunter Val­ley of New South Wales, where premium wines are starting to turn heads. Because the weather in the valley is unpredictable and torren­tial downpours are possible during harvest, winemaking techniques play an important role in this re­gion of Australia.

Mark Cashmore, the winemak­er of our selection, has described to us some of the interesting tech­niques used in that part of the world. For instance, with one of his wines, the grapes are picked at night and dry ice is added in the field to protect them from spoil­age. With this months selection, the grapes were constantly moni­tored as to their sugar content, acidity, and pH balance from the time sugar began to accumulate in the immature fruit. This allowed the winemaker to harvest the grapes at exactly the moment he felt would optimize the character of the grape in question.

The grapes of Australia, like much of the grapes grown throughout the world, are the grapes of France. Our selection is a blend of 60% Semillon, the cele­brated grape of Sauterne in Bor­deaux, 22% Chardonnay, the no­ble white grape of Burgundy, and 18% of Sauvignon Blanc, the pre­dominate white grape of dry white wines in Bordeaux. An unusual blend, but typically Australian. Semillon/Chardonnay blends are quite popular in Australia and the addition of a little Sauvignon Blanc rounds this wine nicely.

The color is brilliant yellow gold with a nice hue of straw. The nose is very complex being able to identify all three grape compo­nents, a melon scent is quite pro­nounced. The taste begins with Chardonnay (a hint of oak), then moves to the Semillon melon fla­vors, afterward comes the Sauvig­non Blanc crispness. The finish has melon overtones with nice acid and fruit balance. Crisp and clean.

Serve chilled with seafood, sea­food salad, or use as an aperitif.

Cellaring Notes: For drinking through 1990 -1991

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