by Fred McMillin
for January 7, 1999


A Darlin' Marlin


Vintage 1996 Black Marlin:
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon

Vintage 1997 Black Marlin:
100% Chardonnay

The Rest of the Story

Why the change? Marketing Research! Here's the story.

Black Marlin

A live-wire Aussie organization known today as Mildara Blass arrived in San Francisco in 1988. They paid very close attention to what Americans want in an Australian wine. Our July 3, 1997 WineDay, " The Two Black Opals", described their survey of U.S. restaurant diners. The most recent studies show there's magic in the words "one hundred percent Chardonnay." It also shows there's less magic in powerhouse oak flavors than in the past. Consequently, the new Black Marlin has lost its other varietals and has throttled back on the oak. Those flavors have been replaced with more intense Chardonnay flavors obtained by low temperatures...harvesting during the cool night hours...fermenting in cooled stainless steel tanks at low temps...etc.

The Wine

1997 Black Marlin 100% Chardonnay
By Mildara Blass Limited, Australia
Flavors—Melony Chardonnay with just a touch of oak.
Sugar—Refreshing acid is accompanied by a subliminal 0.4% sugar, giving it a certain softness.
Contact—Office of Marketing Vice President Michael Parkinson, (919) 846-5800.
Price—$9 range.


"This is a super piece of dirt," says Mildara Blass winemaker Adam Marks. Where is it in Australia? Answer: It ain't! M-B is setting up shop in California. That "dirt" is in the Napa Valley, and 60 of the 400 acres have already been planted with noble reds. Meanwhile, the company is producing 80,000 cases with leased facilities in Monterey. We'll do some tasting and let you know how it stacks up with the Marlin.

Note: Thirty years ago a young German winemaker earning $2.50 an hour driving an old Volkswagon toured Australian wineries seven days a week, selling his advice. His name was Wolfgang Blass. To learn how it turned out, see the July 10,1997 WineDay titled, "World-Class Blass".

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. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.


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