There is a steady change of colour enveloping the Barossa as vintage 2015 winds up. The leaves on the vines are starting to turn shades of golden Autumn, and the faces of the winemakers are returning to normal after a fast, furious and – we can now safely say – fantastic vintage.
Ian Hongell’s first vintage as Chief Winemaker (actually his 17th at Peter Lehmann Wines) will go down as one of the greats. The weather has been kind, and the growers have been rewarded for the past 12 months of hard work to grow the best fruit they can.
It’s all teamwork, with viticulturist Nigel Blieschke captaining the fruit side of things. Over vintage, Nigel traverses the Barossa in his trusty ute to monitor the fruit of every one of the 142 growers who’ve made up Peter Lehmann’s 2015 vintage, and make sure it is picked at its prime.
Proof of the fact that PLW sources the broadest selection of fruit from Australia’s most diverse wine region is on the odometer of Nigel’s ute alone, with more than 6,000 kilometers racked up this vintage. How many more spent walking the rows of vines is another thing. More often than not, one of the winemakers will be with him to adhere to the mission that great wine is made in the vineyard. One of those is Andrew Wigan, retired Chief Winemaker from the very first Lehmann vintage, putting his love of vintage over the lure of the golf course.
The beauty of a great Barossa vintage is that it really lets the varietal diversity from the 14 sub-regions, and individual standout vineyards, to shine. Ian and his winemaking collaborators Peter Kelly and Tim Dolan have run a tight ship in the winery keeping all these components separate, and are now counting the days until the red classification tastings in August.
Before then, we’ll get a glimpse of how good this vintage has really been with the release of Sauvignon Blanc and Moscato in the coming months.
In the meantime, the Barossa is set for celebrating with the Vintage Festival exploding across the Valley over April 15 - 19. It is the one of the best times to visit as the winemakers and growers take a breath, have some fun and rejoice in the culmination of a year’s hard work.