Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WBW#48: Back To Your Roots

Sun 10 August 2008

It's Wine Blogging Wednesday's fourth birthday and the party is being held by Lenn Thompson at Lenndeavours, with the theme 'back to your roots'.

The idea is to choose a wine from your early wine drinking days, perhaps the first wine you ever tried, and blog about it. I imagine, for some people, this might involve revisiting some less than stellar vinous experiences ...

I'm lucky as I can't remember the first wine I ever tried, so that rules that out. And, having grown up a 30 minute drive from McLaren Vale and about a 60 minute drive from the Barossa Valley, my list of seminal wines would probably run to several pages.

Even though I wasn't able to try any of these wines (availability of South Australian boutique wines in Leeds is somewhat limited) I'll give you a taster of what I was lucky enough to cut my teeth on ...

Right up there, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 1991 (or was it 92?). It probably costs a fortune now! Bought for me over dinner at the Adelaide Casino by a good university friend just before I went travelling at 21.

Post travelling, a 1982 JJ Prüm Kabinett and a 1986 Château Montrose, bought for me by a winemaking student I had met while abroad and who was visiting Adelaide for his university studies. This taught me that Riesling is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful wine. Oh, and Bordeaux - that's OK too!

Post travelling boyfriend lived very close to an excellent wine shop and one of the highlights was a Bests Great Western Pinot Meunier. It's not often you see PM outside a bottle of bubbly, let alone as a straight red. It was magical!

For this event, the obvious choice was a Barossa or McLaren Vale Shiraz. And that happened to be the Peter Lehmann 2001 The Antiquus Old Vines Shiraz (£15.99 from Latitude Wines).

South Australia has some of the oldest vines in the world: while much of the Old World suffered from phylloxera South Australia's vines puttered along and today they're quite unique. For example, the Henschke Hill of Grace vineyard was planted in the 1860s, and, despite the 1980s vine pull (there was so much Shiraz being grown the South Australian government paid growers to pull up their old vines and plant something different!), there are plenty of old vines around to produce complex, long lived wines.

Peter Lehmann is one of those rather ubiquitous supermarket brands but I wouldn't let that put you off buying some of the label's more expensive wines (such as the Stonewall, or even The Antiquus) and I would certainly suggest visiting the cellar door if you're ever in the Barossa Valley.

So, when you finally get the cork out of a bottle of this wine ... what happens? The wine was ruby in colour, with slight tinges of garnet. The nose was not as pronounced as I'd expected, but with red fruit (berries?), plum, warm spices. The fruit was very ripe, perhaps a touch confected and there are a few savoury notes too, with perhaps a touch of tobacco.

On the palate, the wine was almost vegetal at the edges, but was dominated by chocolate and more very ripe fruit. This was backed up by both good acid and tannin levels, which made me think that this could do with some time lying down in a cool, dark place.

The length was very good and the flavours definitely developed, moving through to stronger warm spice (think mince pie) and loads of pepper.

Although this is a good (to very good) wine, I'm not entirely sure about the hefty price tag. I've been focussing on expanding my European wine drinking, and certainly, a Côte Rôtie would probably set you back at least as much if not (a lot) more. I suspect that built into this price is a little trading on the Peter Lehmann name ...

There was a little left for a revisit on Monday night. The nose was more perfumed and the wine had softened. The wine definitely has some ageing potential, which might be advisable if you're planning on unleashing all that pepper on Old World Shiraz drinkers. At 14.5% abv there is NOTHING lightweight about this wine.

But then, there was nothing lightweight about the massive pieces of sirloin with chips and mayonnaise which it washed down!

Moral of the story - no matter how far you are away from home, nothing will bring back memories of the flat, dirty, dusty land outside Tanunda quite like a bottle of Barossa Shiraz.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can very much remember my first tastes of wine. My father tried to educate me about them when I was in my first year at uni. His idea of a perfect wine was Blue Nun Liebfraumilch.

Luckily for me I had a friend who then pointed me in the right direction.

I think I'd like to start joining in WBW now that I'm not in the red.

12:25 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Ros - do it! I've only been participating for a few months but it's been brilliant to either have an excuse to try something new or just indulge yourself with something you really love!

If you really love lists and want to try new wines I'd also recommend having a look at the Wine Century!

8:28 pm  

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