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In the second half of the 1960s, doctors in the Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley and Margaret River tentatively embarked on journeys into the unknown: small-scale winemaking with financial aims of minimal importance, but there nonetheless. All were familiar with the great wines of the world (notably from France) and established benchmarks for their wines accordingly; Bordeaux was a common denominator, Burgundy next in line.
Max Lake was the first to move to bottle wine for sale with Lake’s Folly (1966) in the Hunter Valley; Tom Cullity (1967) and Kevin Cullen (1971) followed in Margaret River; then came Peter McMahon (1970) and John Middleton (1971) in the Yarra Valley.
All their legacies glitter brightly among the greatest Australian wineries today, but none more so than John Middleton’s Mount Mary. It is still family-owned and run, with John’s grandson, Sam Middleton, in calm, measured control of the winery, and with Sam’s father, David, content that it should be so.
It is axiomatic to say that no two vintages are the same, and that the aim of a good (or great) winemaker is to make a better wine for a given set of growing season and vintage conditions than previously achieved. Or, to put it another way, there should always be an element of Socratean dissatisfaction. Such is Sam’s approach to winemaking.
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