Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nothing to do with Lehman Brothers

Finding that I'm falling a bit behind on the postings, this is meant to be a quick, down and dirty addition to The List. Problem is that there's a lot that could be potentially written about this next wine...

52. 2002 Peter Lehmann GSM (Barossa - Australia)

The Barossa is perhaps the most influential and internationally recognized wine-growing region in Australia. It is located a bit north of Adelaide and consists of two sub-regions: Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. The former is primarily lower in altitude, more fertile and warmer. The Eden has higher altitude, cooler weather patterns and a longer growing season.

The Barossa has been at the forefront of Australian winemaking for a long time, the first grapes being planted there in the early 1840's. It is also one of the few wine-growing regions in the world that has never suffered an outbreak of phylloxera - the tiny, pale yellow sap-sucking insect (love that description) that's related to the aphid and that, over the years, has destroyed rootstock and changed the viticultural practices of growing wine. (I particularly liked one of the first attempts by the French to fight it - which was to bury a live toad under each vine.) Accordingly, the Barossa can still grow grapes on their original rootstocks (quite rare) and it boasts some of the oldest vines in the world - many up to 100 years old or older.

If the Barossa can be referred to "as the beating heart of the Australian wine industry," Peter Lehmann is one of its most notable characters. The gentleman has been a firm supporter of the Australian Wine Appreciation Society in Vancouver and has, on occasion, regaled AWAS members with stories and anecdotes that do nothing but engage and enthrall. From tales going back to how he got started with his own winery to his obvious love of the grape and the people that grow them, the man can spin a yarn.

The GSM is a very approachable introduction to the prolific Lehmann portfolio - both by taste and a price that won't empty your wallet for something that's a bit above your average Tuesday night wine (it runs about $25 nowadays). GSM refers to the blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre and is quite common in the Barossa. I was quite surprised when I first learned that it is also the most common blend of the vaunted chateauneuf-du-pape - one of the big guns from the Rhone Valley in France.

We've had this bottle lying around for a little while. I believe it can still be found in the government liquor stores but it's now called "Seven Surveys GSM."

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