It is a pleasure to meet any winemaker, especially one who makes a journey across the world to share his wine personally with us. Our group had the pleasure of meeting Ian Hongell from Peter Lehmann wines who led us through a tasting, at Sidedoor restaurant, with their wide range of wines paired with tapas.
Jennifer MacDonald Havers
Wine Columnist, Ottawa Citizen
Peter Lehmann is located in the Barossa region, a small wine region of Australia producing only about 65,000 tonnes of fruit per year.
It contains some ancient Shiraz, Cabernet, Grenache and Semillon vines, some are 150 or 160 years old.
Their remote location and climate have helped protect these vines from Phylloxera and therefore help them to survive.
The company sources their fruit from a range of growers, some from tiny plots that have been selling to Peter Lehmann since the beginning of the brand.
As only a small percentage of their grapes come from their own vineyards, these relationships with growers are particularly important.
Australia has had the benefit of several great growing seasons, and the wines we tasted showed great balance of fruit and ripeness, along with some interesting and varied structure and tannins. They also showed a great potential for aging, and we heard stories of how impressively some of the older catalogue of wines were showing.
Throughout our evening, Ian presented a picture of both the tradition and strong sense of family attached to the Peter Lehmann brand, packaged with a refreshed style. Being only the second winemaker in the brand’s 36 year history, there is a strong sense of pride and tradition that surround these wines.
As a company, they also strive for quality, consistency, and reliability, as was exemplified in their history and the longevity that many have had with the company. Making great wine with great partners is a priority that seems to work for them, as we saw in the quality of the wines we tried.
A lovely evening and great opportunity to try some wines from Down Under!
Peter Lehmann Wines Wigan Riesling 2011
Eden Valley, Australia
Drink: 2012 – 2022 303305 11.5% XD 750 mL $25.00 May 2016
Wine Expert, Rogers Daytime Television
Ian has been passionate about wine making since his first attempt at the age of seven with some hand-picked grapes and an ice cream bucket.
While growing up a stone’s throw away from the Peter Lehmann winery, Ian’s father worked alongside Peter Lehmann himself in the 1970s. Following in his father’s footsteps, after completing his studies and years spent working in California, France and Germany, Ian headed home to Barossa in 1998 to join Peter Lehman’s wine making team and then becoming their Chief Winemaker in 2015.
Ian expertly guided us through a structured tasting of eleven great whites and reds from Lehmann’s extensive portfolio and shared his team’s great passion for both wine growing and winemaking.
Peter Lehmann Wines Layers White 2015
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Drink: 2015 – 2018 167171 11% D 750 mL $16.95 Score: 90/100. May 2016
MBA Professor, University of Ottawa & Wine Blogger
On Sunday May 8 I had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting dinner for Peter Lehmann wines that was hosted by winemaker Ian Hongell.
Peter Lehmann opened as a winery in 1979 in Australia’s acclaimed Barossa Valley. I was impressed with both the breadth and depth of the wines offered by the winery. One of Lehmann’s well known wines is their ‘Layers’ blend of four grapes.
Both the Layers white and Red blends were outstanding with incredible complexity on both the nose and the palate. I liked learning that the percentage of each of the four grape varietals used in the Layers wine is kept consistent (only 2% variation) to allow better comparison from year-to-year.
Photo By: Craig Kuziemsky
The Lehmann winery grows less than 2% of its grapes on site and instead relies on a partnership with surrounding farmers in the Barossa Valley. It is a great example of a cooperative effort where the winery and farmers rely on each other to survive in the competitive wine industry.
Photo By: Craig Kuziemsky
The tasting moved from lighter to heaver grape varietals and demonstrated an outstanding range of flavors. Highlights for me included the 2010 Stonewell Shiraz and 2013 Futures Shiraz.
Peter Lehmann Wines Layers Shiraz Tempranillo Mourvèdre Grenache 2014
Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia
Drink: 2016 – 2021 138883 14.5% D 750 mL $17.95 May 2016
Last evening, I had the privilege of attending a wine tasting session lead by Ian Hongell, Chief Winemaker for Peter Lehmann Wines (PLW) at the Sidedoor in Ottawa’s Byward Market.
Ian was an engaging and knowledgeable speaker whose passion for the work he does and the wonderful wines produced is easily conveyed to his audience.
What was also evident is the incredible relationship PLW and its staff have with the growers in the region. There is a long history of trust and commitment between the winery and its farmers creating a symbiotic bond. With only 3% of the grapes produced by the winery itself, this association is an extremely important one.
Now to the wines!
Thoroughly enjoyed these bold and spicy red wines from Barossa, not to mention the lovely whites we sampled (Layers White and Riesling).
Ian shared some interesting facts including that the wines produced remain fairly consistent year to year. This is partly due to the incredibly mature vines that are used – some as old as 150 years.
The unique climate of the Barossa region and potential for extremely hot and dry periods contribute to this hardiness with some of the older, smaller vineyards forgoing irrigation and yet still produce some wonderful grapes. I only wish more were available at our LCBO.
Wine & Travel Columnist, Outdoor Magazine
Peter Lehmann’s wine philosophy was born of his passion for the grape and the people who tend to the vines. As winemaker at Saltram for 20 years he cultivated friendships with local grape growers who shared his fervor for making fine wines.
From these relationships Peter managed to build a burgeoning business after parting ways with Saltram when its new owners wanted to shift away from the local farmers.
With over 60 small producers at risk, he decided to go it alone and help rescue the small plots of land and their owners from certain demise. From those humble beginnings the Lehmann operations continue to rely heavily on local suppliers (only 3% of their fruit is estate grown with some of the best planted in a small area surrounding The Louise resort in the Barossa valley).
Chief winemaker at Lehmann, Ian Hongell, led a tasting of eleven different offerings from their extensive collection of varietals and styles at Ottawa’s Sidedoor restaurant. Mr. Hongell’s wit and obvious zeal for crafting fine wines captured the imagination and interest of some of the city’s leading sommeliers while the group savoured small plates perfectly paired to each wine.
Barossa is one of the top viticultural areas in the world and its relative isolation during the phylloxera infestations of Europe means that the region is home to the oldest original rootstock of Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Semillon. These old vines have deep roots that can draw moisture from the earth even though the valley is often stressed by a shortage of rainfall.
Access to such a mature and hardy crop, the winemaker has a solid foundation to build upon. And that’s just what winemaking at Peter Lehmann’s is all about.
With so many aspects of fermentation and aging to choose from there is an overriding preference for the use of French oak. Mr. Hongell feels that American oak is more likely to sit on top of the wine and he is seeking more integrated complexity. This seemed to resonate with many at the table.
Even after more than 30 years working with a multitude of loyal growers, the quality continues to improve. When a grower’s harvest results in exceptional wine, the company pays a bonus. This competitive compensation drives quality and when paired with the proper selection of yeasts, fermentation techniques and barrel selection, these Barossa wines can achieve exceptional levels of style and substance.
Drink: 2015 – 2018 611467 14.5% XD 750 mL $18.00 May 2016
Accredited Sommelier & Blogger
Sunday was another wonderful outing at Sidedoor restaurant to sample the wines of Peter Lehmann and have a chance to talk to their chief winemaker. As seems to be the rule with wine people in general, he was very down-to-earth, and loves what he does.
Of course, as it’s a job he’s wanted since he was seven, you can hardly blame him. How many of us actually get to be what we want “when we grow up”? The level of technical knowledge, from soil types, irrigation, details of how each batch is fermented and aged, shows someone that really knows their job. This is not a marketing person.
The way Peter Lehmann wines works with their grape growers seems to be a bit unusual as well. Working with the same growers since they started and always having a place for them, is a nice way to work these days. Most large corporations seem to have forgotten that goodwill goes a long way towards the long term success of their business.
Lehmann seems to have a good eye on the future, with plans to move towards a more premium level of wine, working with their growers and processes to produce even more wonderful wines. Based on what we tasted on Sunday, I think this will work out well for them.
The wines we tasted covered a respectable range of prices, with all offering a good value. We tasted mostly reds, but the whites we tasted were very good, and again, great value wines.
The variety in the reds also means that there’s something for almost everyone, and the wine you like best, or that pairs the best with a certain food, is not necessarily the most expensive wine. We hit several exceptional pairings with the wonderful Tapas meal at Sidedoor. Sadly, not all of these wines are currently available, but I’m hoping more appear at the LCBO in the future.
Peter Lehmann Wines Portrait Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia
Drink: 2015 – 2021 605741 14.5% XD 750 mL $19.95 May 2016
Wine Columnist, Huffington Post Canada
Peter Lehmann Tasting Dinner with Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell May 8, 2016
I began May 8th, Mother’s Day, at 5 am in rain and wind at the Aviation Museum participating in the Run For Women 10K. After several hours I was chilled to the bone and wasn’t feeling like going back downtown at all. I’m so happy I did.
Fellow Sommeliers and media personnel came together for a tasting of Peter Lehmann wines lead by their Chief Winemaker Ian Hongell. He’s currently on a world tour promoting his products and he does this by sharing his tasting notes and relaying the intimate stories captured in each bottle.
It’s obvious that Ian loves what he does for a living. To paraphrase him, “People in wine have passion. They love food, life and people. It’s not about the money.” I couldn’t agree more as I sampled each wine paired with great tapas style food at Sidedoor Kitchen and shared the evening with like minded people conversing about all things wine.
We tasted 2 whites and 8 reds – all with their own unique qualities and expressions of the Australian terroir from which they originate. Of the two whites, I particularly enjoyed the Wigan Eden Valley Riesling. Fresh with lots of lime notes and zippy acidity.
When I taste Riesling this good I’m left to ponder why I don’t drink more of it. Maybe this will be a Riesling summer for me! Ian suggests this Riesling has at least 20 years of cellar potential.
There is no mistaking that the eight reds hale from the hot Barossa Valley. The backbone of each of these wines stays pretty constant. Lots of concentrated red and black fruit, eucalyptus oil, chocolate and medium(+) to full-bodied elegance with smooth or rounding tannins.
Of the eight red wines that evening, my favourite was the Eight Songs Shiraz. The wine gets its name from founder Peter Lehmann’s favourite vocal musical ensembles “Eight Songs for A Mad King.” He loved it for it’s soft harmonies.
Art and wine go hand-in-hand in this opulent Shiraz and each sip goes down like liquid velvet. Ian suggests this wine could age a further 5-10 years. This wine definitely sang to me – yes, I went there.
I thoroughly enjoyed my night with Peter Lehmann, Ian Hongall and my fellow wine dorks. Sidedoor Kitchen did a splendid job pairing each of our wines with tapas, soft tacos and nibbles. Their private dining room is becoming one of my favourite venues in Ottawa. Until next time… wine * food * run
Peter Lehmann Wines Portrait Shiraz 2013
Drink: 2014 – 2018 572875 14.5% XD 750 mL $19.95 May 2016
Peter Lehmann Winery
Peter Lehmann Wines Futures Shiraz 2013
Barossa, South Australia, Australia
Drink: 2015 – 2022 301309 14.5% D 750 mL $27.00 May 2016
Accredited Sommelier & Blogger
Spending an evening with the Chief Winemaker from Peter Lehmann wines, Mr Ian Hongell and his storied wines, was an absolute pleasure. Ottawa’s Sidedoor executive chef paired Ian’s wines with perfection.
Ian shared legendary stories of the evolution of the Peter Lehmann Brand, explored the tension between terroir, nature and nurture. We explored wild ferment, low yield production, predominantly Barossa Valley reds and Eden Valley Whites.
I was left with the impression of what it is like to grow fruit in terroir which is dry, with low rainfall, relatively hot growing seasons and on the world’s oldest vines of up to 160 years of age.
Sampling several Shiraz and Shiraz blends over a range of 5 vintages illuminated the diversity available by careful selection of fruit, grading of quality, respect for tradition and embracing evolutionary and revolutionary vitification and vinification techniques.
I fell in love at the tasting, leaving with a new found appreciation of perfection, with the Stonewall Shiraz, 2010 vintage. Not only is this the birth year of my son, this wine is elegant, rich, complex, sophisticated and supple, promising many years of further evolution in bottle.
Celebrating Australia this month with a personal walk through of the terroir, the wines, South Australia’s signature varietal and its companions was fantastic to say the least. I invite you to take a glance at my wine reviews for 10 of Peter Lehmann’s wines, with my ratings on www.NatalieMaclean.com . Cheers!
Peter Lehmann Wines The Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Shiraz Malbec 2012
Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia
Drink: 2015 – 2025 724336 14% XD 750 mL $40.00 May 2016
Monique Ippolito Sosa
Wine Columnist, Ottawa Living Magazine
Peter Lehmann Wines Portfolio Tasting at Side Door Kitchen
When the grape growers of the Barossa Valley fell onto tough times selling their fruit in the late 1970s, Peter Lehmann, the man, couldn’t fathom to see so many livelihoods plunge into misfortune.
As Peter witnessed this impending trend of wineries reneging on their contracts with the grape growers, it triggered him to launch a major rescue operation, while he himself had little financial stability. In 1979, he initiated what appears to be the world’s first Kickstarter campaign by sourcing tons of unwanted harvested grapes and a promise to make top quality Barossa Valley Wines!
The Barossa terroir has many of the oldest vinifera vines on native rootstock in the world. They are isolated and phylloxera free. Not to mention, the wines are amazing! Peter vowed night and day, to showcase the vast potential of Barossa Valley and he did so very well, not just by crafting fine wines with his sourced grapes, but by bringing hope and a sense of pride to a community and every farmer in the Barossa Valley.
To this day, it has taken an entire community of over 150 family of growers to craft the remarkable wines of Peter Lehmann Wines. This is a tradition that spans two to three generations of growers who are all extremely loyal to Peter Lehmann Wines.
The story of Peter Lehmann Wines is one of tenacity and loyalty. Though many may consider estate wines to be the best representation of terroir and quality, I admire Peter’s vision which showcased a blend of qualities from many pockets of the Barossa Valley.
Milena & John Ryan
Authors, Love Decanted
Sunday, May 8, 2016 proved to be a memorable date, not only for Mother’s Day, but for an informative and nuanced tasting of wines from Peter Lehmann Wines. The latter event showcased some fabulous wines produced in the Barossa Valley, showing diversity and integrity.
Perhaps, more interestingly, the evening provided some insight into the Australian wine community and exemplified how old fashioned, hard work, combined with trust and respect, can create a trans-generational synergy within a community and produce some great wines.
Ian Hongell, the chief winemaker, engaged the group through a blend of wine education and personal anecdotes. One of the more captivating discussions centred around the difference between tasting whites and red, particularly how whites, in his view, are best tasted from young to old, whereas reds are best tasted from old to young.
We especially appreciated his willingness to embrace each growing season and to strive towards extracting the very best from the fruits of the many local growers involved in Peter Lehman wines, whether their contribution is measures in tonnes or (literally 18) buckets.
In short, the evening will undoubtedly live long in the memories of all involved. Thank you, Nathalie, Ian, and your entire crew for an outstanding event and for proving us wrong, that is, demonstrating Australian Shiraz is not simply a big, fruit-forward, one-dimensional wine, but, when done well, can reflect the characteristics of the varietal, as well as the terroir, teasing the palate in a satisfying way.
Peter Lehmann Wines Eight Songs Shiraz 2012
Barossa Valley, Australia
Drink: 2015 – 2022 662056 13.5% D 750 mL $40.00 May 2016
Peter Lehmann Wines Stonewell Shiraz 2010
Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia
Drink: 2016 – 2027 724625 14.5% XD 750 mL $80.00 May 2016
Wine & Food Blogger
Always a sensory adventure, a tasting evening with a winemaker, is a special event.
We were honoured to have Ian Hongell from Peter Lehmann wines make his first stop in Ottawa on a whirlwind North American tour, especially so when Ian informed our group of 14 that one of his tastings in a US city would be for 400! I think we were all the more grateful after hearing that! The Ottawa ratio allowed a dynamic, intimate and lively interaction, fuelled by the elegant and impressive Lehmann wines.
A winemaker, particularly when he is from halfway around the world, is the direct or tangible connection between the wine in front of you and the vineyards from where it originated. That link gives the wine added dimensions – a vivid tale of the terroir, the weather, the people (the characters!), blood, sweat, tears…money… The wine becomes more of a living entity – and more interesting and compelling as a result.
The terroir is always particularly fascinating – the Barossa valley is low and fertile and dry, the Eden Valley is higher and rocky and drier. Irrigation is the norm in the region, but it is deftly and sparingly applied – roots are deep, and that translates through to the complexity of the wines.
Some of the vineyards are upwards of 130 years old – the top line wines are made from those grapes. As they only own 3% of the fruit used to make wine, Lehmann relies on grapes grown by area families, some with several generations of experience. The connection to the land is strong and Lehmann has forged close relation-ships with the grower-families.
A cast of characters evolves and shapes the wines as much as the terroir. We, the drinkers, are the beneficial recipients of this web of influence in these wines.
A big thank you to Ian Hongell and Peter Lehmann Wines, and Natalie, and also to Sidedoor for the great tapas.
PS – Ian says 2015 was a “mind-blowing vintage!”
Peter Lehmann Wines Stonewell Shiraz 2012
Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia
Drink: 2017 – 2029 724625 14.5% XD 750 mL $80.00 May 2016
Ian explained how he tries to value and honour their grape growers with the same respectful relationship that Peter Lehmann had with them.
In some cases, a producer will deliver even only a few buckets. Since they were loyal at the beginning of Lehmann’s…
Eight Songs – delicately perfumed and austere Shiraz. It used to come in lots of eight with different pieces of art on each one, but that was difficult for wine stores to manage and keep hold of inventory-wise.
In early rural Australia, most properties were subdivided in parcels to farm, based on the season – oats, cotton, apricots (harvested at Christmas time), and grapes. Some of his more stubborn contributors still operate this way.
Lehmann shows a strong ‘new world’ attention to the detail for different varietals. Harvesting, planting, vinifying, and finally blending them to achieve a specific profile.
Ian Hongell quotes:
1) Vinifiying parcels separately, you treat them like little kids playing sports – what can they do?
2) Mataro tastes like rabbit guts.
3) He made his first wine at the age of seven with his dad. He reminisces about pressing in a bucket, while covered in bees.
4) Ian believes in using much more French oak than American. French integrates better with Lehmann’s perceived style. American sits above and doesn’t integrate.
The Clancy is an underrated Bordelais blend with Shiraz tossed in. Too sophisticated and pretty to be compared with Barossa Shiraz/Cab, but it definitely has a Barossa warmness to the spice that sets it apart.
Clancy’s Blend is based on a poem by Banjo Paterson:
Clancy Of The Overflow
I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just `on spec’, addressed as follows, `Clancy, of The Overflow’.
And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
‘Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
`Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.’
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving `down the Cooper’ where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.
And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.
I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all
And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the ‘buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.
And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.
And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal —
But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of `The Overflow’.
Lehmann Wine Dinner- Menu
Bengali Meat balls
Pork Belly with chili lime caramel
Crispy Beef with chimichurri
Spicy Braised Beef
Baja Crispy Fish
Ancho Pulled Pork
Chef’’s hand rolled mini donuts- assorted flavours
Peter Lehmann, know and will always be remembered as a legend of Australian wine.
He was a winemaker for many years at a Barossa winery called Saltram. In the 1970`s he resigned from Saltram with his own vision in the world of winemaking. He established strong relationships with growers in Barossa, purchasing their fruit and processing it.
Peter Lehmann, owning only 3% of their fruit, rely highly on their growers, to provide them with quality fruit every year to make their wines.
The rich red brown earth and clay of Barossa Valley holds some of the oldest vines in the world, such as Barossa`s unique, powerful, robust Shiraz. `The older the vine the better the wine` an old saying, impossible to deny, after tasting a Peter Lehmann Barossa Valley Shiraz.
Ian Hongell Chief Winemaker at Peter Lehmann Wines Ian Hongell has been a part of the Lehmann way of life since an early age. Bred in Tanunda, a stone’s throw from the Peter Lehmann winery, Ian’s father worked alongside Peter Lehmann himself at Saltram in the 1970s.
Young Ian grew up with the next generation of Lehmann’s, with winemaking always in his mind. His first attempt was at the age of seven with some hand-picked grapes and an ice cream bucket.
Following his studies at Roseworthy College, he secured a winemaking role at Penfolds and has since worked in California, France and Germany to further his experience.
The opportunity to head up one of the largest winemaking operations in New South Wales saw Ian head to Griffith as Winemaker at The Cranswick Estate.
In 1998, after five years in New South Wales, Ian headed home to Barossa, bringing his knowledge of local resources and international experience together in a new role with Peter Lehmann Wines.
Ian has been mentored by Lehmann’s previous Chief Winemaker Andrew Wigan, who himself was mentored by Peter Lehmann. Ian is now the third winemaker to continue Peter Lehmann’s legacy taking on the role of Chief Winemaker in January 2015.
The Hongell family is also part of an extended multi-generational family of 146 farmers that offer PLW the best of the breadth of the Barossa. Ian’s small Shiraz vineyard at Stonewell gives him “a personal seasonal barometer” to what is happening in the vineyards across the region.
Ian is a scholar of the Len Evans Tutorial, and is a regular judge on the national wine show circuit.
He has a practical approach to winemaking, just as he does to most things in life. He is a true outdoorsman – a keen fisherman, water-skier, hockey player, and archer. He loves cooking, and if given the chance would write a cookbook, called “Kill, Cook, Eat”.
He lives on his vineyard at Stonewell with wife Daniela, kids Oliver, Jasper, Freya and vineyard mate Ferris the Dalmatian.