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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Cheviot Bridge, a potentially significant new Australian producer created by former Mildara Blass people, has unveiled its wines in the UK and believes in Long Flat that it could have another Jacob's Creek'. The initial ranges are: Thirsty Lizard, a 3.99 range aimed at multiple specialists; Kissing Bridge, 4-6 wines aimed at the on-trade; Cheviot Bridge, 5-6 wines aimed at multiple retailers (all of these are sourced from South Australia and Victoria); and single-vineyard Cheviot Bridge Yea Valley, from four cool-climate vineyards to the northeast of Melbourne, which will be pitched at direct mail wine merchants such as The Wine Society. The company, which apart from the Yea Valley vineyards is a virtual winery', producing approximately 20,000 cases of wine annually by buying in grapes without the risk of vineyard ownership, has been put together by Maurice Dean (managing director), who was Mildara Blass' group operations director for 12 years; Hugh Cuthbertson (marketing director), who spent 15 years with Blass; Peter Perrin (export sales director), who claims to have established Lindemans Bin 65 in the US, and Black Opal and Greg Norman Estates in the UK and US. David O'Leary is wine manager responsible for Cheviot Bridge and Kissing Bridge, while Martin Williams MW is winemaker for the Yea Valley wines. The group is finalising a deal to buy the icon Hunter Valley brand Long Flat from Tyrrell's, which Perrin told Harpers will make it a 150,000 cases a year company and would give it immediate scale and international distribution. Perrin told Harpers that with so many take-overs and mergers in Australia there is now a gap between the giants - Southcorp, Foster's, Constellation/BRL Hardy - and smaller boutique wineries, a gap that Cheviot Bridge is hoping to fill. Perrin believes there is a lot of interest and potential in Long Flat. He said: Australia is still growing and we have got to keep feeding it by giving buyers and consumers what they are looking for.' In the UK, Long Flat will be handled by Paragon Vintners until 1 May, while Charles Hawkins is Cheviot Bridge's UK/European agent.