By Celia Strong
The Barossan. Another made-up wine name, but fairly obvious that it refers to a wine from the Barossa Valley area of Australia, an area Down Under that is one of that country’s best-known and best-producing wine regions. And a new wine for us, so even better.
Grape-growing and winemaking in the Barossa Valley dates back to 1842. It is one of six wine-producing zones in South Australia. Shiraz is its star variety, but other reds, like Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, also do well. Not only does the valley have a large amount of old vines that are still producing, but also numerous families with generations in the wine industry. The British were the first settlers in the valley, for agriculture but not necessarily for grapes. Prussians followed and gave the area a Germanic flavor. George Fife Angus, a London banker and merchant, owned more than 27,000 acres in the valley and needed workers. He found them with the Silesian Lutherans, who needed to escape religious persecution – settlers who were “solid, god-fearing folk, prepared to pass the weekday hours in honest toil and the sabbath in worship of their creator.” Others, besides Angus, settled in Barossa. For a long time, none of them cared about wine. From the 1800s through the 1960s and ‘70s, wines were developing. Most of them, though, were fortified styles – tawny or sherry-like.
Peter Lehmann was born in Angaston (a village in the Barossa Valley) in 1930, the fifth generation of one of Barossa’s founding families. Peter was 14 when his father died, and he left school and got a position as apprentice winemaker at Yalumba in 1947. In his years there he became one of the most promising red winemakers. His skills and experiences set the foundation for Peter Lehmann Wines, officially named in 1982. Doug Lehmann joined his father in the business.
Our particular Lehmann wine is The Barossan, a Shiraz that showcases the superb fruit and power of Barossa. For this wine, high-quality grapes are selected from renowned growers across the valley. Each source brings its own unique qualities to the finished wine. Some bring bright cherry flavors, some dark fruits. Others have sweet chocolate notes and mocha. After harvest, the grapes are fermented and macerated on their skins for up to two weeks. Partial barrel fermentation is done. After processing and clarification, the blended wine is aged in both French and American oak barrels, then bottled after 12 months.
The Barossan has aromas and flavors of red and black cherries, blackberries, black currants and blueberries, along with dark chocolate, cocoa powder, molasses and hints of sweet vanilla. All of these are intense and generous, typical of Barossa Shiraz. More than the aromas and flavors, the texture of this wine is extraordinary. Full, juicy, intense, voluptuous, with fine tannins and a soft, supple finish. As they say at the winery, this wine shows the heart and soul of the Barossa Valley, and despite its heritage, quality, and high scores in wine publications, it’s quite a value at $12.99. Enjoy.
Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.