Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Langmeil: A Barossa Valley Winery Visit

The Barossa Valley is the heart of the Australian wine industry. Throughout its history, it has excelled in the production of Shiraz. We had a chance to visit the home of the country’s oldest Shiraz vines – Langmeil Winery.

The Freedom Vineyard is believed to be the world's oldest Shiraz vines.

A Pioneer And Timeless Vineyard

When we arrived at Langmeil Winery in Australia’s famed Barossa Valley, we really stepped into history. In 1842, Prussian immigrant Christian Auricht established one of the Barossa’s first trading villages on the banks of the North Para River, naming it Langmeil. Auricht had migrated from Europe seeking religious freedom. A blacksmith by trade, he also planted a mixed-use farm. This historical site is home to Langmeil Winery today.

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The legacy of Auricht continues into today. The Freedom Vineyard, planted as part of the farm in 1843, is believed to be the oldest surviving Shiraz vineyard in the world.

The first winery was established in 1932, but the property went through a number of hands. The fortunes of wineries on the property had ups and downs, with the doors finally closing in 1993.

A Tradition Of Family Winemaking Continues

In 1996, three friends collaborated to purchase the derelict property and restored the old buildings and landscaped the grounds. The trio named the winery Langmeil, after the original 1842 village. In the renovation work, a gnarly patch of Shiraz vines from Auricht’s 1843 planting was discovered.

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Today the winery is operated by the Lindner family, which arrived in 1845 to settle in the Barossa Valley. Langmeil’s family winemaker is Paul Lindner. He is a veteran of more than 20 vintages. With parents Richard and Shirley and brother Paul, James Lindner is a family proprietor/director of Langmeil and also oversees sales and distribution both in Australia and around the world.

Three Gardens blends three Rhone varieties.

Historic Roots – Modern Excellence

We saw quite a few modern wineries during our visit to Australia, but the cellar door for Langmeil is quite a different story. The tasting room is located in the former stables. We found no horses, but did find some fantastic wine and a charming rustic decor.

The day was blistering hot and I had opted to take a shortcut through the vines. My wife meanwhile cruised to the tasting room in air conditioned luxury!

Dry Riesling from Eden Valley provided the first refreshing sip. The 2018 Wattle Brae Dry Riesling was crisp with good acidity and absolutely life saving from the record temperatures outside. We kept the cooling trend going with the 2017 Three Gardens blend of Viognier (59%), Marsanne (31%) and Roussanne (10%). I love these white Rhone grapes and this was satisfyingly rustic.

Bring on the refreshment with Bella Rouge!
The 2018 Bella Rouge Cabernet Sauvignon rosé is a fuller bodied blush with excellent strawberry notes. Australia does Riesling well –- and so does Langmeil. We capped our exploration of the whites with the 2018 Live Wire Off Dry Riesling.

Ratcheting Up To Reds

With my heat tremors finally over, it was time to flip the switch to red wines. We started by exploring the Village Red range, beginning with the 2016 Black Beauty Malbec. This was a pleasant surprise for me and a great value at $A30. The 2016 Della Mina is a blend of Sangiovese and Barbera. Barossa is known for is German roots, but the Lindner family has long ties to northern Italy and this bottle shines with cherry, spice and earth.

Mataro is another name for Mourvedre and the 2015 Mataro was next on our list. This one was a miss for me. I was ready to move on to the limited Old Vine Garden Range.

"Orphan" vines make great Langmeil Shiraz
Our first sip was spectacular. The 2016 The Fifth Wave Grenache comes from Old Vine Grenache grapes in Lyndoch. Langmeil may be the first winery to do a straight varietal bottling from this vineyard as opposed to using it as a blending grape. The vineyard shines in a light and elegant wine riffling with raspberry and a nip of spice.

The apex arrived with our next bottle, the 2016 Orphan Bank Shiraz. It is a full bodied beauty, made with 10 rows of pre-1860 Shiraz vines saved from the developer’s bulldozer. Plum and raspberry fill the palate. Smooth tannins help you enjoy the ride for the very long finish.

Langmeil is a highly recommended destination while in Barossa. The wineries commitment to preserving history, Old Vine vineyards and family winemaking translates to a fun, friendly experience filled with superb wine.

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