Australian wines are known to many and new to some. Whether you’re a seasoned wine drinker or just beginning, I am sure you know or have heard that Australia does make great wine. If you haven’t heard that fact, and or haven’t tried an Aussie wine you found awesome… then keep reading! I recently tried Peter Lehmann, renowned winery in the Barossa Valley of Australia. Peter Lehmann is a member of the Order of Australia and the original Baron of the Barossa! He is a legend of Australian wine, and helped shape the industry to what it is today over seven decades.
Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell is who I had the true pleasure of meeting here in NYC. Ian is incredibly funny, charming, and passionate about winemaking in Australia. We enjoyed a number of Peter Lehmann wines with a gigantic porterhouse for three, mac and cheese, and creamed spinach; steakhouse classics perfectly paired with some bold Australian reds. Ian is one of Australia’s most talented next-generation winemakers and wine judges. He grew up very close to the winery where his father also worked. Soon enough, winemaking became a part of his DNA.
His first attempt at winemaking (with stolen grapes and an ice cream bucket at the age of seven) was augmented by a winemaking degree and vintages in California, France and Germany; and a winemaking position at Penfolds. – Peterlehmannwines.com
In 1998, Ian took the position in the Peter Lehmann winery, under the mentorship of Chief Winemaker Andrew Wigan. On 1 January 2015 Ian accepted the role of Chief Winemaker. Not only is he now Chief Winemaker, but he’s also part Lehmann’s family of growers, with a small low-cropping Shiraz vineyard that gives him “a personal seasonal barometer” to what is happening in the vineyards across the region.
When tasting with Ian I fell in love with quite a few wines: 2014 Portrait Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Clancy’s Red Blend, and the iconic 2011 Stonewell Shiraz! The Portrait’s range at around $18.00 and are the perfect weeknight reds with steak, lasagna, grilled vegetables, and more. The Shiraz is spicy and fruit forward with a lot of deep plum, black cherry, cocoa, and pepper notes. On the palate it’s dry with a a medium plus body and a delicious lingering finish. The Cabernet Sauvignon is striking with bright cherry, black forest fruits, and soft tannins. Both wines are incredibly well balanced and off a great price for the wine quality.
The 2013 Clancy’s Red Blend has a unique label and is also very approachable price wise at $14.00. The wine is deeply colored and boasts notes of cherry, currants, jam, and some spice. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz. This wine I really enjoyed with the creamed spinach due to the present spice and savory tannins in the wine.
If you know and love Australian wines, especially ones from Peter Lehmann Winery and want to spend around $100.00/bottle then you must try the Stonewell Shiraz! Stonewell Shiraz was first made in 1987 , and has one guiding principle: to be Peter Lehmann’s best shiraz of the vintage. The name Stonewell was chosen in recognition of the high quality shiraz grapes being grown around Stonewell Road in the Marananga district of the Barossa. This 2011 limited release Stonewell Shiraz shows a deep, black core with a lot of dark, plum driven fruit, and a touch of chocolate and aniseed on the nose. The palate is deliciously structured with fine tannins and a long, persistent finish. After tasting the wine several times, Ian ensured me that the wine will drink beautifully over the next 5-10 years.
Into Australian wines yet? If so, I recommend trying Peter Lehmann wines, which can be found in many wine shops around the U.S.A as well as in many casual and fine dining restaurants. I guarantee there’s an Aussie wine within the collection you will love!