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Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shi­raz 2004 THE 2004 Stonewell Shi­raz (95 points, $90) yields only to the 2002 and 1998 vin­tages in qual­ity and is on a par with the ’ 96. It was re­leased in De­cem­ber and, while I have no quib­ble with the 2010-24 drink­ing span pre­dicted by Lehmann, it would be no sin to open a bot­tle for a test drive this year. It is, af­ter all, five years old. Strongly coloured, with some crim­son notes re­main­ing, it is medium to full-bod­ied, with an ex­cel­lent mid-to-back palate line to the black fruits, lead­ing to a strik­ingly long fin­ish and af­ter­taste, the bal­ance and struc­ture all one could wish for. Up­dated tast­ing notes of ev­ery vin­tage will ap­pear on www.winecom­pan­ James Hal­l­i­day bod­ied dry red at Ade­laide in 1994 — the year of its release — and nine gold medals.

The 1990 Stonewell won two more tro­phies at the Ade­laide Wine Show of ’ 94, in­clud­ing best red wine of show, amaz­ingly the first shi­raz from the Barossa Val­ley to be so hon­oured.

In 1996 Stonewell stole an­other march on its com­pe­ti­tion by in­tro­duc­ing some French oak, winning five tro­phies and a swag of gold medals. In 1998 the use of French oak was lifted to 64 per cent, re­sult­ing in three tro­phies and 11 gold medals, in­clud­ing two at Lon­don’s In­ter­na­tional Wine and Spirit Com­pe­ti­tion in 2001 and ’ 03. By the 2001 vin­tage the French oak had been lifted to 90 per cent, where it re­mains.

It is no ac­ci­dent that 70 per cent of PLW’s pro­duc­tion is ex­ported, much to Europe, and that the present style of Stonewell has par­tic­u­lar ap­peal there. The team at PLW has been ever alert to changes in the wind, and if im­i­ta­tion is the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery, it sees no rea­son to apol­o­gise for it, with one ma­jor pro­viso: it must be sat­is­fied change is for the bet­ter, not just for the sake of it.

If the world re­lapses into an acute and en­dur­ing re­ces­sion, and the con­se­quence is a broad-based move to fight­ing varietals at $15 or less, PLW will also be there with its hand up. Its Eden Val­ley ries­ling, mov­ing from the 2007 to the 2008 vin­tage, is ex­cep­tional value at $15 (and will likely be less in the chain stores), the Barossa rose like­wise.

Slightly higher up the price pole (a no­tional $18) are the ’ 06 Barossa tem­pranillo (mov­ing to ’ 07 be­fore too long) and the ’ 06 Barossa shi­raz. Th­ese are all supremely hon­est wines and have their own track record of suc­cess in Bri­tish wine shows.­ter­lehman­

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