by Zoltan Szabo


Australian winemaking legend, Peter Lehmann

I had the pleasure of meeting the legendary Peter Lehmann and his wife, the lovely Margaret, the other day at Kultura Restaurant. They were in town to showcase some of their wines, going back seven decades. There were short speeches delivered by Peter and Margaret, who taught me that “there’s nothing industrial about Australian winemaking” and the industry rather be referred as “the Australian winemaking community” which I kind of liked. The wines tasted proved just that and I was shocked to experience how well made they were and how amazingly they stood the task of time. Canada’s number one sommelier, the wonderful Veronique Rivest was pulling corks and decanting some of the wines.

I had to run after tasting the wines, but I remember the mushroom – cream sauce orechiette and the really good quality ginger – soy marinated beef tenderloin strips served for lunch, and the courteous service by a young lady looking like young Liz Taylor. (I have reviewed Peter Lehmann’s ’09 Eden Valley Riesling in a previous GFR newsletter, an excellent wine and excellent value, which is now available at Vintages. The Peter Lehmann ’08 Art Series Shiraz is also available in Ontario from the LCBO and for less than $20 you get a very good, exuberantly fruity, but not jammy, fresh and juicy red. Look for the Peter Lehmann ’09 Layers White too, an lovely white blend. More Lehmann wines to be released soon, stay tuned.).

1958 Saltram Bin 20 Claret
85% Shiraz with the addition of 10% Dolcetto and 5% Muscadelle. Ruby with a little bit of brick in colour, certainly not showing its real age. Complex bouquet of dried cherries, plums, clove, black truffles and black olives with underlying savoury tobacco, leather and underbrush. Medium bodied and incredibly lively with silk – soft tannins and a very long, spicy finish. Shocking how well this wine aged.

1963 Saltram Mamre Brook
65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Shiraz, aged for 3 ½ years in large old oak and then cellared for 2 years in bottle. It has less colour than the ’58 and more brick edge to it. The nose shows dried cranberry, black cherry, raspberry, plums, savoury chocolate, leather and a bit of barn – musk aromas. There’s an interesting rhubarb compote flavor note here. Not lacking freshness and tannins left in it as well.

1973 Saltram ‘HP’ Basket Press Shiraz
Pretty deep colour, ruby with dense, almost black core. Black fruits, plums with herbal nuances of menthol, lavender and truffles, sweet compost. It possesses a phenomenal opulence and texture over the palate and comes with minutes long, savoury, roasted herbs flavoured finish. An outstanding wine from all points of view, and we are almost the same age, this wine and I.

1989 Peter Lehmann Wines Cellar Collection Cabernet Malbec Merlot Shiraz
Aromas of black raspberry, blood orange, cassis, sweet tar and herbal accents. Medium to full weight and smooth with a spicy finish. It could be in a “down faze” of evolution. I’d still drink it, of course, and see what happens to it in 2 to 5 years from now.

1996 Stonewell Shiraz
Ruby – light purple colour. Bouquet of blueberries, boysenberries, kirsch, cardamom, mint and floral. Full, fresh and juicy with soft – dusty tannins and lots of time ahead of it.

Saltram Show Sweet White Bottled 1973
Fortified white, blend of Semillon, Muscadelle and Verdehlo. This is a multi – vintage blend with the average of 33 years old, some vintages going back as far as the ‘20s and ‘30s. Madeira – like, sweet, rich yet fresh, just gorgeous.

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