Unknown great Australian white

Peter Lehmann Semillon tasting 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Peter Lehmann Wines, now owned by the Casella family who bought the winery in 2014. Today we’re looking back in history with John Casella, who drove 800 kilometres to meet a group of invited journalists at the Barossa Valley winery in South Australia.

We’re tasting Semillon, a 100% varietal wine which is better known as one of the great white grapes of Bordeaux and, from closer quarters, as the leading white in Hunter Valley north of Sydney, which is known for its searing acidity and ability to age.

This Barossa Valley version is another take on the same theme – and far more approachable in its youth, with aging potential too. Like its Hunter Valley counterparts, Peter Lehmann Barossa Valley Semillon is made from early picked grapes, which shows in the relatively low alcohol levels, high natural acidity (a hallmark of the Semillon grape) and the wine’s ability to age – as well as its refreshing qualities as a young wine.

All of the wines in this line up tasted fresh and appeared significantly more youthful than their age. Even the first wine, now seven years old, tasted extremely youthful. They all have the ability to age further.

Oak was trialled in the winery’s Semillon in 1995, 1996 and 1997 but the wines were not released onto the market – “They were monstrous and not good. Cork also was awful in those wines too. To find two or three wines that tasted the same was impossible, due to the unreliability of cork,” says Malcolm Stopp of Peter Lehmann Wines.

No oak is used in these wines and they are all sealed with screwcraps.

The tasting

2012 Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon, 10.95% ABV, 5.9 RS

Pale lemon, medium intensity on the nose with aromas of wax, hints of honey, and straw, medium bodied, long finish thanks to the high acidity, which makes the wine taste fresh and vibrant. Very good quality. 18.5/20


2011 Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon, 10.4% ABV, 6.3 RS

Pale lemon, medium intensity in aromatics with more grassy aromas (quite a classic hallmark of Semillon) and a ripe melon fruit core with a long, zesty, lemony finish. Succulent and leaves a dry impression of taste, thanks to its high acidity. Very refreshing. Very good quality. 18.5/20


2010 Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon, 11% ABV, 6.1 RS

Pale lemon, starting to show tertiary flavour development into green herb aromas and flavours. Refreshingly long on flavour. Good quality. Drinks well now and definitely has further time up its sleeve, thanks to the high acidity. 17.5/20


2006 Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon, 11.5% ABV, 6.2 RS

Pale lemon, super fresh with waxy and lemony aromas and flavours, super succulent, great balance of richness with acidity. Long finish. Extremely good wine which drinks well now and has more aging potential. Still so youthful. Tasty. 19/20 


2005 Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon, 11.5% ABV, 5.95 RS

Medium lemon, strong aromas of wax and dried grass, medium bodied, succulent and refreshing. Very good balance, still very youthful – a top white with refreshing character and a lot of life ahead. 19/20


2002 Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon, 12% ABV, 6.77 RS

Medium lemon colour with strong aromas of green grass, a medium body, flavours of honey, wax and dried grass. Drinks well and has further aging ahead but is developing a greener flavour spectrum than the other wines in this line up. Very refreshing, very good quality. 17.5/20

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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