Pioneers of Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
The first Semillon Sauvignon Blanc was produced by Mike Peterkin in Margaret River in 1979 when he was making wine for Kevin and Di Cullen. That wine was labelled Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and sold as such. Dr Peterkin never claimed any originality for the idea, he simply borrowed it from the French. What he did do was create a new style which emphasized aroma, freshness and fruit character. He believes that this was the first Semillon Sauvignon Blanc produced in Australia.
That first Semillon Sauvignon Blanc produced in 1979 went on to win the trophy at the Perth Royal Show for the best full bodied dry white wine, and so is on the public record. It also clearly established the potential that a blend of these two varieties had in Margaret River. The grapevines for this 1979 wine would have been planted in 1975 or 1976.
When Dr Peterkin planted Pierro in 1980 the potential was obvious and he devoted a third of the total plantings at that time to these two varieties. Some of the people who played a major role in the development of this style of wine are :
Dr Mike Peterkin for starting the blend in 1979 and repeating it in 1980 and 1981 vintages and for establishing the style.
Kevin and Di Cullen for continuing the Semillon Sauvignon Blanc wine established by Dr Mike Peterkin in subsequent vintages at Cullen.
David Hohnen at Cape Mentelle who started in the early to mid 1980’s, and helped popularize the Semillon Sauvignon Blanc name.
David Gregg of Vasse Felix and later Frank Tate of Evans and Tate who greatly popularized the Classic Dry White form of this wine.
Kate Mackillop and Mark Fesq, both Sydney wine distributors, who both got this unique Margaret River style well established in what was then the most important market place in Australia at that time