Import Selection: Semillon/Chardonnay, 1992. Mitchelton

The Mitchelton Winery is locat­ed in the Goulburn Valley region of Central Victoria. This places it less than an hour and a half away, if you get the bug to drive to this Australian wine country from Mel­bourne. In the same way that a hospitable winemaking establish­ment in Napa Valley would appeal to someone in San Francisco, both this particular winery and its locale are a wine tourist’s dream.

Australia experienced a frantic gold-rush around the same time we did last century, and Michelton lies in the area which was the very heart of it. History and beauty are at every corner. Nearby towns like Maldon, Macedon and Gisborne contain some of the best preserved memorials of the time, superb homes and buildings of the Victo­rian period. The winery itself fea­tures a unique, Victorian-inspired observation tower, an unusual ar­chitectural tribute to the era. From this tower, visitors may enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and vineyards.

The Valmorbida family of Mel­bourne chose a tranquil bush set­ting beside the Goulburn River to house their winemaking establish­ment. Since its inception in 1973, Don Lewis has been with them, leading their winemaking team. He has had the good fortune of hav­ing had available to him as consul­tants two of Australia’s greatest white wine makers, Colin Preece and Brian Croser. Lewis’ wines dependably exemplify the in­fluence of their expertise.

The grapes Sémillon and Char­donnay both come from France originally, but from different re­gions. The former hails from Bor­deaux, while the latter is a noble native of Bourgogne. And while certain wine regulations in France make mixing these two grapes a ta­boo, the unencumbered Australi­ans use the duo as their traditional blend. They like the way Chardon-nay’s firm austerity ideally com­plements the softness and fruit characterizing the Bordeaux grape.

This classic example of the Australian blend shows an appetiz­ing green/gold hue. It has the typi­cal green plum/fig nose of the Sé­millon. This fruit follows through into the mouth. Though light, it is somewhat rich on the palate with firm acidity and pear, vanilla and leaf flavors. It finishes dry and clean with the pear/plum flavors remaining as a pleasant reminder. Serve chilled with sautéed John Dory or Orange Roughie.

Comple­ments chicken or shell fish dishes in mild, lemony sauces, too.

Cellaring Notes: Peaking soon. Drink now and through 1994.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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