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Yarra Valley’s Seville Estate named Winery of the Year by ELI GREENBLAT08/08/2018  

Seville estate winemaker and grandson of the founders of the vineyard, Dylan McMahon
with the Chinese owner of the vineyard, Yiping Yang. Picture: Aaron Francis

A marriage of winemaking tradition and the commercial might of China has borne fruit, with a Yarra Valley vineyard being named the best in the land.

The 12ha Seville Estate was last night named Winery of the Year by Australia’s leading wine expert, James Halliday, at the 2019 Halliday Wine Companion Awards.

It’s quite an achievement given Seville Estate was founded in 1972 by a local GP, Peter -McMahon, and his wife Mar-garet, with Dr McMahon starting out by making wine in his backyard. The couple were determined to prove the sceptics wrong by growing marvellous shiraz, cabernet and riesling in the valley’s cool -climate. Their grandson, Dylan, is now chief winemaker but today the vineyard is owned by Yiping Wang, a businessman from China’s Guangxi province who also runs a successful chain of wine stores.

Together they have formed a powerful double act, not a -marriage of convenience but rather a partnership of the vine.

With Australian wine exports to China recently cracking the $1 billion mark, Mr McMahon and Mr Wang might just represent a future business model for other vineyards to follow, relying on local winemaking skills and offshore capital to produce award-winning vintages.

As the pair walked the vineyards yesterday, Mr Wang spoke of his responsibility to those who created Seville Estate and his pleasure in landing the Winery of the Year award.

“While I’m feeling the joy and the excitement, I also feel a strong sense of responsibility and obligation on my shoulder to continue its success,’’ he said.

“I am wholeheartedly dedicated to the quality of our wines. Specifically, I greatly appreciate Dylan and his team’s winemaking philosophy, which is all about -elegance and finesse. I also share the same belief in true expression of site and cool climate.’’

Mr McMahon, reflecting on his grandfather’s decision to plant shiraz, cabernet and riesling grapes despite the doubters, said: “He wanted to basically prove them all wrong.

“We are still making all those same varietals now. Our wines are cool-climate wines, which is a bit of a general brushstroke, but going deeper into that, cool--climate wines represent amazing flavour and density of fruit flavour while still maintaining this beautiful elegance and refinement. It’s about elegance and finesse.

“And being really respectful with the variety and where it is grown, so if the variety is naturally savoury then the wine should be savoury. So the cabernet has that hint of capsicum and stuff that -lingers, it’s definitely wines that aren’t overrun by sweet fruit, -alcohol and concentration.’’

Mr Wang’s customers in China agree, but are still learning as they drink.

“Chinese wine drinkers are not that much different than the wine drinkers from the rest of the world; they are passionate in pursuing the best,” he said. “Australia produces some of the finest wines in the world.

“When it comes to shiraz, however, Chinese consumers tend to have somewhat overly simple and stereotypical impression of it.

“That is, it’s strong, tough and rough. This is why I am so proud that Dylan and his team are showcasing a different side of Australian wines, a side that was barely revealed to Chinese wine drinkers before.’’