by Fred McMillin
for February 17, 1997

Bordeaux Down Under

Prologue: Disembarking on Jan. 26, 1788 to settle Australia, Captain Arthur Phillip brought not only 1,000 men, women and children, but also seeds of the 'claret grape, Cabernet Sauvignon.. from noted Australian author Len Evans' "Complete Book of Australian Wine."

The Rest of The Story: Although Cabernet was there at the very beginning, Australia did not immediately become Bordeaux Down under. The noble Bordeaux grape remained in obscurity for the next 170 years. Then, in the 1960's it caught fire, and today the country has something like 10,000 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon yielding Australia's best red wine.

So when did Bordeaux's second fine red-wine grape, Merlot, also become a major player in Australia? The answer: It hasn't. Plantings are less than one percent of Australia's total. However, things are a changing. Merlot is now being used to soften and add dimensions to Cabernet. To discover how it's working try our Wine of the Day.. half Merlot. . no rough edges... light oak... medium body.. maximum value ($9.50).

1994 "Cabernet Merlot, " Southeastern Australia
Black opal Wines
Importer: Australian Benchmark Wines, Raleigh, NC
Contact: Michael Parkinson, (919)851-5955


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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