What’s the link between Margaret River and Blue Suede Shoes? Xanadu!

4 Sep

Sauvignon semillons from Margaret River sent by Waitrose as recommended matches for a dish containing honey brought back happy memories of David’s trip to Perth 20 years ago, when he first discovered how magical this blend can be in the hands of Western Australian winemakers.

We were on travel-writing assignment for The Wine Spectator in the Barossa  when a separate commission to interview Hank Marvin for a Sunday supplement took David jetting half-way across Australia to Perth.   After Hank did the Shadows walk for him in his blue suede shoes, a delighted David clearly had the golden age of pop music on his mind when he chose a wine called Xanadu to complement a dinner of freshly-caught seafood.

We’ve since just once or twice stumbled across Xanadu’s intoxicating, if unlikely mix of these two very different grapes, described by James Halliday, writing for The Australian, as “razor-sharp lemon juice improbably melding with passionfruit and guava”.   While Waitrose’s Export Series Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc is not quite in the same league, it’s a good introduction to this blend which has made Margaret River famous, especially while on promotion for £5.99.

Even more interesting is the move towards pure semillon in Australia, with Neil McGuigan leading the way and more than doubling sales of this single varietal since launching The Semillon Blanc in the UK.   Sainsburys is taking an active part in promoting this and other semillons from the Hunter Valley; they worked well with our chicken cooked with sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, prunes and honey.   A challenging dish to match with indeed, but sweet and lyrical enough to have been served in legendary Xanadu itself!

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