Many a time and oft on this blog I have rated Peter Lehmann wines for their aromas and their flavours, as they were one of my reference wine producers once I “discovered” wine. As most people know the company was founded by Peter Lehmann himself as part of his initiative to save the livelihood of many Barossa wine growers when a major buyer’s orders dropped off.
The company has changed ownership a few times, being publicly owned after a floatation in 1992, bought by the Swiss Hess group in 2003 and then back in Australian hands with Casella Family Brands from 2016. You might not recognise the Casella name, but they own the mass market brand Yellowtail as well as boutique operations such as Brand’s Laira of Coonawarra, Morris of Rutherglen and Baileys of Glenrowan (all of which I have visited, by coincidence!)
I recently got to try two very different Peter Lehmann wines, one a traditional Barossa Shiraz and the other an aged botrytis Semillon:
Disclosure: both bottles were kindly sent as samples, but opinions remain my own
Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2016
This bottling is new to me but appears to be somewhere around the middle of the Lehmann hierarchy, above the Portrait series whose Cabernet Sauvignon wooed me many years ago. There are also Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals of The Barossan. Those with a keen eye may notice the underlining of “THE” on the label, with the emphasis probably signifying the late Peter Lehmann’s moniker of “The Baron of the Barossa”.
In the glass it is opaque, with the rim still showing youthful purple. The nose shows juicy red and black cherries, blackcurrant, blackberry and exotic spices. Those fruit and spice notes continue onto the palate where they are joined by coffee and chocolate, hints of vanilla, and menthol. This is a real winter warmer of a wine, perfect for the weather as it is now! A friend and colleague who blind tasted this wine estimate the price to be around €30 with which I concur, so in the low 20s it also offers great value.
- ABV: 14.5%
- RRP: €21 – €23
- Stockists: Martins Off-Licence, Fairview; Molloy’s Liquor Stores; Fine Wines Off Licence Group
Peter Lehmann Botrytis Semillon 2011
This bottle is from the Peter Lehmann Masters Series which includes some fantastic wines such as the Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon, Eight Songs Shiraz, Wigan Riesling and Margaret Semillon. The current release in Australia is now the 2017 so trying the 2011 with an additional six years bottle age is a real treat. In fact, the back label shows that it was made when PL was under the Hess umbrella as mentioned in the introduction.
Apparently the idea for a botrytis Semillon came to former Chief Winemaker Andrew Wigan (something of a wine legend in his own right) when visiting Château d’Yquem in 1981. Of course Sauternes is usually made with a majority of Semillon which is a grape well planted in the Barossa. The warm summers there are conducive to the development of Botrytis Cinera (aka “noble rot”) which shrivels the grapes (raising average sugar content in the juice) and gives a pleasant mushroomy aspect.
Young, dry Semillon can be very pale in appearance, but this aged sticky poured a deep gold, heading towards amber. The nose is outrageously expressive, with layer upon layer of honey. On tasting this is a luscious wine, bursting with bitter orange marmalade, apricot and tropical fruits. It’s the kind of wine you want to just swirl around your mouth for an age, but isn’t cloying as there is still freshening acidity.
This is a fantastic sweet wine which I will personally be hunting down to add to my cellar!
- ABV: 11.0%
- RRP: €15 – €17 (375 ml)
- Stockists: Redmonds, Ranelagh