I am often asked two things: why wineries do not hold back vintages for release as mature wines and secondly, are there any good lower alcohol wines available? I can solve both these questions with these three brilliant new arrivals.
Basically why wineries do not hold back vintages until mature is a question of economics. The logistics of running a winery are such that all the costs are incurred (planting vineyards, production facilities, oak, bottling, etc.) before any income comes in. I have seen winemakers discussing what variety to plant in a vineyard, knowing that it will be 5-6 years before they will know if they have chosen correctly.
But a few wineries, buck this trend and we have just received supplies of three of the very best, all three at just 11.0% alcohol:
“96 points. A wine equally split between its freshness on the one hand and honeyed lime juice on the other. It's hard to see how it will increase in complexity, yet it will, as every vintage of Wigan has demonstrated.” James Halliday
This wine pays tribute to Andrew Wigan, who was chief winemaker at PLW from 1980 to 2015. It is from his final vintage, rated as the best vintage for Riesling since 1993. It has been awarded a staggering 15 trophies and over 24 Gold Medals at major Australian Wine shows.
A chance to enjoy an outstanding Aussie Riesling and a piece of history at the same time.
"95 points. An aged release. Ah, what a drop-dead beauty, with the poise of a ballerina, feet barely touching the ground, and marking the end of act one. The first stage of honey and toast just commenced, with four to five stages still to follow." James Halliday
I recall having an excellent dinner with the late Bob McLean opposite the Sydney Opera House, washed down with a fabulous bottle of Elizabeth Semillon (named after a Royal Visit by our late Queen). We both agreed that it was too cheap, even at restaurant prices. Sadly, that restaurant is no more, the fabulous view that we enjoyed is now spoiled by the ubiquitous cruise liners berthed alongside.
Aged for 5 years before release, it is now in its optimal drinking window. The wine is refined and restrained, a testament to its aging potential.
“96 points. Hand-picked fruit from Light Pass vineyards. I first tasted this vintage shortly after fermentation and such is its stamina that its youthful verve is upheld with astonishing clarity six years later! An impossibly pale straw-green. Shot with cut grass, fresh lemon, Granny Smith apple skin. Building preserved lemon, buttered toast and subtle nutmeg. Crystalline acidity electrifies an exceedingly long finish. The Hunter is king of dry semillon and Margaret is its only true rival.” Tyson Szelter (James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion)
Named in honour of Peter’s wife Margaret, who was a fervent supporter of Barossa Semillon. Peter Lehmann Wines rewrote the rule book on Barossa semillon in the early 1990s, opting to pick the grapes earlier and forego wood-ageing, emulating the traditional, low-alcohol Hunter Valley style.
Released after five years cellaring, it has youthful lemongrass aromas and citrus acidity that belie its age; and complexity you would expect from an aged white with a big future ahead of it.