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.winecompanion.com.au. 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.