It sounds like a momentous tasting... and it was! Andrew Wigan, Chief Winemaker at Peter Lehmann Wines, flew into London last week to preside over the unveiling of a score of vintages of one of Australia's iconic red wines. Stonewell Shiraz (pronounced 'shiraaaaazzz' of course) from 1987 up to the as-yet-unreleased vintages of 2005 and 2006, for the benefit of around 30 journalists, sommeliers and long time Lehmann fanatics.
Wigan was charmingly honest about this famous wine's history. Lehmann introduced barrique fermentation for the wine a couple of years after its first launch as 'a couple of other wineries had won the Jimmy Watson trophy by doing so'. It certainly worked - the '89 Stonewell won the trophy that year! The award was key in building the young wine's reputation into one of Australia's top red wines. The change to French oak in the mid 1990's certainly presaged a more subtle oak style. It was a fascinating tasting, and the latest vintages especially 2002, 2004, and the 05 and 06 showed that the wine has a long and very promising future ahead of it. The 1998, from what is widely recognised as one of the all-time great vintages in the Barossa, did not disappoint, but there was much to like in some of the less-vaunted earlier vintages.
As one eminent wine writer remarked afterwards over a refreshing glass of Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz: "How many other wineries from anywhere in the world would be prepared to put up twenty consecutive vintages of an iconic wine such as this? Kudos to Peter Lehmann."