Wine review — Peter Lehmann, Wirra Wirra & Majella

Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2005 $15 to $18
At a tasting in Sydney last week (full report in next week’s column) winemaker Andrew Wigan presented all but two of the Peter Lehmann shirazes from the inaugural 1980 vintage to the current release 2004 – all made by himself. It was an extraordinary line up of lovely, rich, soft – almost tender – Barossa wines. It was all the more extraordinary because the wine has always been modestly priced yet cellars well for a quarter century – the 1980 being one of the highlights. The current release appeals already with its pretty, floral nose, juicy varietal flavour and soft, tend tannins.
Wirra Wirra Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2005 $25, Arneis 2005 $25
The good-humoured Wirra Wirra team, led by industry veteran, Tim James, seems right on the money with this complex, traditional, barrel-fermented chardonnay and new fangled arneis – a variety native to Italy’s Piedmont region. There’s a herbal, zesty not in Arneis reminiscent in some ways of sauvignon blanc. Pizzini’s King Valley is perhaps the best Australian version I’ve tried though this one goes close – but wins the honest back label award, “It is a typical arneis if you ask us”, it claims, “the only problem being we are not sure what a ‘typical’ arneis is”.
Majella Coonawarra Merlot 2004 $28, Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $28
Majella’s first ever merlot, a stunner, and a blinder cabernet lead a raft of new releases from the Lynn family’s very special patch of dirt down in Coonawarra. From experience the cabernet ages beautifully, maintaining pure varietal character as it mellows over time. And if you think merlot is either green, tough and weedy or light, sweet and soft, try this one to see how elegant and refined and but still quite firm this variety can be. Another standout, at $17, is the 2005 ‘The Musician’, a fruity and soft cabernet shiraz blend – all from the Majella vineyard – made specifically for early drinking.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007

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