Friday, October 25, 2013

A Memorial AWAS Peter Lehmann Dinner

I don't usually add bottles to The List when attending various wine dinners or tastings - mostly just because we aren't really in charge of the bottle or how it's being poured - but tonight's AWAS dinner in celebration of Peter Lehmann's life is going to be an exception. Mr. Lehmann passed away earlier in the year and was a long time friend of Vancouver's Australian Wine Appreciation Society. The society partnered up with the winery, with Q4 Restaurant and with International Cellars to put on one of the finest wine dinners I can remember.

The food was great. The memorial stories were both interesting and funny. Oh, and yeah, there were some fairly awesome wines being poured - including two vintages of Wigan Riesling, two Margaret Semillons, an '09 Mentor Cab and two Shiraz bottlings, a 2001 Barossa Eden Valley Shiraz and a 2010 EVS Eden Valley Shiraz.

Luckily for us, not all of the winery and other dignitaries were seated at a head table. We were pleasantly surprised when Matt Lane, Vice-President Peter Lehmann Wines for the Americas, sat down and joined us. Not only is Matt a veritable fount of knowledge on Peter Lehmann wines - and Aussie wines in general - he's a very funny man. There were more than a couple zingers that had us in stitches. He claimed that it's just because his jokes get funnier as an evening progresses and the alcohol kicks in - but I think he can hold his own with the whole speaking in public bit. It's not just about his plying us with wine, although I'm more than willing to laugh with him if he keeps pouring wines like he was tonight.

My favourite of Matt's lines was that "Aussies have a perverted love for Riesling. It's the country's second favourite breakfast drink - after Champagne." After that line, I realized that I might just have more Aussie in me than I ever thought before. I suggest you follow Matt on Twitter @champagnelane

1458.  2009 Peter Lehmann - Ruediger VSV Cabernet Sauvignon (Barossa Valley)

If Matt threw out my favourite line of the night, the Ruediger VSV Cab Sauv was my favourite wine of the night. It was one of the wines paired with foie gras ravioli, veal succo and shaved parma prosciutto and I can't recall having ever seen the Ruediger VSV before. That may well be because - much to my dismay - there isn't a whole lot of it around. "VSV" stands for "Very Special Vineyards" and the Ruediger Cab is a single site wine sourced from the Ruediger family's Barossa vineyard that straddles two distinct growing districts in the Barossa. The Light Pass district is known for its sandy loam soils while the Ebenezer district features red, loamy clay. The Ruediger vineyards are only separated by a single road but the combination of fruit from both sides of that road permits the winery to showcase a greater depth in the profile of this Barossa Cab.

With a healthy dose of black fruit on the nose and palate, there'd be no mistaking this for an austere Old World Cab but I see absolutely no problem with that. This was no fruit bomb, however, and that's probably enough said. I usually think of Shiraz when thinking Barossa. Just as I would probably think Coonawarra or Margaret River when jonesing on Aussie Cab. This is a definite reason to not simply pigeon-hole specific regions to specific grapes though.

I guess when you're a top flight producer - like Peter Lehmann - their premium wines are simply going to be premium, regardless of grape or region.

I was a very happy Bob tonight and was sure to join in heartily with the toast to Mr. Lehmann. As the evening's program nicely captured with a quote from James Halliday, one of Australia's best known wine writers, "Few people become legends in their own lifetime. Peter Lehmann is one."

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