The Barossa, one of the eighteen vine growing areas of South Australia, is a hot and parched place in summer. A dry wind blows incessantly from the centre of the continent stressing vines to the utmost. They used to prune hard to minimise yields and reduce stress but now they drip irrigate. Winters here are cold and springs cool and Shiraz always thrives here.
Peter Lehmann was born in the Barossa village of Angaston in 1930, the fifth generation of one of Barossa’s pioneering families. At the age of 17 he became an apprentice winemaker at Yalumba. In 1959, Peter became Winemaker/Manager at another historic Barossa winery, Saltram. In 1979 Saltram was sold and Peter started a new winery for the grape growers of the Barossa. Andrew Wigan and Charles Melton joined him. In 1982, Peter Lehmann Wines was born, primarily for the grape growers of the Barossa. Company vineyards account for less than two per cent of total production, and 140 family farmers, most tending 20 – 70 acres of vineyards, supply fruit from all corners of the region. Peter Lehmann and his wines became synonymous with the Barossa.
Peter Lehmann died on June 28, 2013 at the age of 83. Peter Wigan, the chief winemaker retired. Since November 2014, Peter Lehmann Wines are owned by Casella Wines.
Members and guests of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society tasted six classic wines of Peter Lehman at the town’s Masonic Hall on the last day of March this year. First, they mingled and chatted and sipped Joseph Cattin’s Cremant D’Alsace Grande Cuvée 2010 (80% Pinot Blanc and 20% Chardonnay aged on lees for 3.5 years). (A decent Cremant D’Alsace but nothing more. 14)
Fruit comes from the shallow rocky soils of low yielding vineyards in the High Eden Valley – one of the great Riesling sites of the world. After a short burst of heat in late January and early February of 2010, the weather settled down and was warm and stable throughout February and March, producing delicate white wines of exceptional quality. The grapes were picked early and cold fermented in stainless steel tanks. Following a two week fermentation period, the wine was clarified and bottled immediately before being cellared at the winery for five years prior to release. (Alc/vol 11.5%, T.A 7.15g/L, p/H 2.8, RS 5.7g/L). The wine is named after Andrew Wigan, Peter Lehmann’s chief winemaker. (Strong aroma of terpenes with dry but rich mouthfeel. Excellent Riesling from a master. 17)
Margaret is Peter Lehmann’s wife. Peter broke with tradition when this wine was first made, opting to make an early-harvested semillon without oak. Aged for five years before release, the wine shows nutty complexity to complement its lemony flavours and long finish. (Waxy and nutty and not as crisp as Hunter Valley semillons. Food wine. 16)
2012 was an outstanding Barossa vintage. Grapes were sourced from low yielding established vines in the Barossa sub districts of Rosedale, Light Pass, Stockwell, Tanunda and Vine Vale. They were fermented and kept on skins for two weeks together with partial barrel fermentation during this time. The wine was matured in French oak hogsheads for 15 month. (Alc/vol 14.8%. T.A 6.71g/L. p/H 3.55. RS 3.1g/L) (Subdued but elegant Cabernet. Not jammy. 16.5)
Some special pockets of land in the Barossa have consistently stood out to the winemakers for their quality and individual character. Fruit from these vineyards was set aside, and wine was made in small batches to highlight this character as single vineyard wines under the name “VSV” – Very Special Vineyards in exceptional years. The commitment of each grower is recognised with their signature. ‘VSV Blesing’ is made with fruit from the Blesing family vineyard perched 400m above sea level in the Southern Flinders Ranges. A relatively new region to plant vineyards, the altitude, rainfall and rich fertile soils of the Southern Flinders provide ideal conditions to grow small parcels of exceptional quality Shiraz. The wine was fermented on skins for 10 days and then aged for 12 months in French oak hogsheads. Only 500 cases produced. (Alc/vol 14.5% T.A 5.9g/L p/H 3.61 RS 3.0g/L) (Rich, powerful Barossa shiraz. Still quite young but approachable. 17)
Ebenezer, in the north west of the Barossa is home to the Schrapel family who are 6th generation guardians of a very special patch of old vine Shiraz planted by their forebears in 1885. At over 300 metres above sea level, this 4 acre block is home to extremely low yielding, gnarled and twisted vines with their roots deep in the Ebenezer soils. The wine was fermented on skins for 10 days and then aged for 12 months in French oak hogsheads. Only 600 cases produced. (Alc/vol 14.5% T.A 6.7g/L p/H 3.46 RS 3.5g/L) (Star of the evening. Minty with a sweet finish. Absolutely delightful! 18)
Stonewell Shiraz – first made in 1987 – has one guiding principle: to be Peter Lehmann’s best shiraz of vintage. The name Stonewell was chosen in recognition of the high quality shiraz grapes being grown around Stonewell Road in the Marananga district of the Barossa. Fermented and macerated on skins for 2 weeks with some partial barrel fermentation. After pressing and clarification the wine was matured in 90% French oak and 10% American oak hogsheads for 18 months prior to bottling and then further matured in the cellars prior to release. (Alc/vol 14.5% T.A 7.0g/L p/H 3.53 RS 2.7g/L) (Concentrated and rich. A big, robust wine but the punch is velvety. Lovely to drink now. 17.5)
Adam Vear of the Masonic Hall served Beef Wellington with red wine jus and Sticky Walnut Sponge and Creme Anglaise after the tasting. Chateau Reynella Basket Press Shiraz 2008 was poured with the beef. (Soft and rich but unremarkable. 15)
All the wines had Stelvin closures. There were no spoilt wines.
- Another excellent and interesting wine tasting, with new words to us of a hogshead and table grape. Although not a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz the Stonewell 2007 was really smooth and full of flavour obviously due to it being a fruit day. However the Chateau Reynella 2008 served with the excellent beef supper was impressive. Thank you for sharing it with us. Once again Bernard thank you for organising and presenting another fantastic evening. Best wishes, Pat & John (Shore), Harrogate, 1 April 2016
- Thank you for a excellent evening with Peter Lehmann wines, most informative and enjoyable. – Tony Stanier