Glen Carlou is part of Hess Family Estates, the collection of wineries owned by Swiss businessman Donald Hess, and the Paarl winery was the venue for a tasting of some of the wines from its sister companies this past Friday.
In addition to Glen Carlou, Hess Family Estates includes California wineries The Hess Collection, Artezin and Sequana, Argentina’s Colomé and Amalaya, and Peter Lehmann of Australia’s Barossa Valley. According to Glen Carlou winemaker Arco Laarman, Peter Lehmann produces around 900 000 cases a year and Hess Collection 500 000 making the Paarl operation at 50 000 very much a minor part of the portfolio.
Quality was, quite frankly, mixed. The Amalaya Blanco 2010, a blend of 90% Torrontés and 10% Riesling, had an inviting floral nose and appeared light and fresh on the palate but the Colomé Torrontes 2010 was horrid – slightly oily in texture, devoid of any particular flavour except for a bitterness on the finish.Both are R145 a bottle from the Glen Carlou tasting room.
Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling 2008 was pretty plain, appearing lean and green with hard acidity but Peter Lehamnn Wigan Riesling 2005 also from Eden Valley but featuring the best vineyard blocks was really smart with lime and lemongrass aromas before pure fruit and brisk acidity. The former sells for R255 a bottle and the latter R285.
The three examples of Cabernet Sauvignon from Hess Napa Valley (Allomi 2009 at R285 a bottle, 19 Block Cuvée 2005 and Mount Veeder 2005 both at R350) were particularly joyless, showing ultra-ripe fruit and heavy extraction. Artezin Zinfandel 2009 from Mendocino County in Sonoma, however, was most pleasant, with plenty of red fruit flavour but not too full bodied (price per bottle: R245).
Barossa is nothing if not Shiraz territory so what to make of the Peter Lehmann wines from this variety? The standard label Barossa Shiraz 2008 (R195) was ho-hum with baked red fruit and plenty of vanilla nor the Eight Songs Shiraz 2004 (R395) appeared disjointed showing a weird minty note alongside ultra-ripe fruit as well as plenty of oak-derived character. The flagship Stonewell 2003, however, was sensational with a complex nose of dark fruit, pepper and just a hint of vanilla before a palate of weight and power but also great harmony. Huge flavour concentration, fresh acidity and firm tannins. Layers and layers of flavour and a very persistent finish – a memorable wine (R395 a bottle).
Scores for above wines:
Amalaya Blanco 2010 – 15/20
Colomé Torrontes 2010 – 13.5/20
Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling 2008 – 14.5/20
Peter Lehamnn Wigan Riesling 2005 – 17/20
Hess Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – 15/20
Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – 15/20
Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – 14.5/20
Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2008 – 14.5/20
Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz 2004 – 15/20
Peter Lehmann Stonewell Barossa Shiraz 2003 – 18/20