Peter Lehmann, The Barossa Riesling 2004

29 Nov 2005 by JR

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Here’s a delicious wine that nicely demonstrates the variability of pricing and distribution around the world. For the best price, unsurprisingly, you need to live in Australia where it’s widely available from eight Australian dollars (US$6 or £3.40) a bottle. A good search engine such as www.winesearcher.com also suggests that the 2004 is so far available only in Australia and the UK where the supermarket Morrisons is selling it at just £3.99 until the end of the year, down from its usual price (which is a bargain anyway) of £4.99. The Wine Society charge much more for it. It is pure coincidence that Morrisons have chosen to discount two of the best wines they list in my opinion. (See the earlier Montagny.) 

You can lay your hands on a bottle of 2003, which I’m sure has only gained with bottle age, in Ireland, where you will pay about the same as the 2004 costs in the UK, or in the US or Norway where, according to winesearcher.com, you will be asked to pay the equivalent of nearly £10 and more than £11 respectively. The Norwegian monopoly is clearly taking quite a cut on this, and it’s surprising that there are not more American stockists of this wine when one considers that the grand old Barossa family firm of Peter Lehmann was rescued from the corporate jaws of Allied Domecq a couple of years ago by Donald Hess, who has his very own winery the Hess Collection in Napa Valley. I would have thought there would be a fairly slick American distribution system in place by now. Perhaps it’s the general perception that there is no market for Riesling in the US (discussed recentliy in your turn) at play here?

The main thing of course is the wine, which is a fine, dry, racy South Australian Riesling in a handsome bottle with an arty label and a screwcap. There’s none of that rather fake boudoir perfume that dogs some inexpensive Australian Rieslings. It comes from fruit grown in both the Barossa and Eden Valleys (‘Barossa’ tout court encompasses both these appellations) and clearly contains some higher altitude Eden Valley fruit. And – the alcohol level is only 12 per cent.

A great aperitif and very happy company for many dishes with a bit of chilli heat. No desperate hurry to drink this – it should be fine in even a year’s time.

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