Oldest vines in Australia (and maybe the world) at Langmeil Winery, Barossa Valley
That’s James Lindner, hanging out with the 170 yr old shiraz vines that he and his family own and use to produce their top wines.
Australia has some of the oldest pre-phylloxera vines in the world and the Barossa is where you will find these 170 year old survivors. The Freedom vineyard was planted in 1843 by German immigrants fleeing religious persecution. See, here’s the plaque:
Over the years, it went though various owners and at one point was abandoned but in 1996, the Lindner and Bitter families bought the old winery and resusitated not only the winery but also the small patch of old vine Shiraz that still bore fruit every year. With lots of love and attention, they are now producing a wine called the 125 yr Freedom Shiraz.
I meet with James (Jim) Lindner for a tour of the winery and quick tasting while they were going harvest was going on. Like many of the boutique wineries I visited while I was there, they use a combo of old and new technology to produce their wines, so while they may use carefully calibrated hydraulic presses they also do open vat fermentation.
I got to taste some shiraz just pressed and it is mighty impressive stuff even when just pressed, a deep dark colour but still sooo sweet, definitely hadn’t started fermentation. I asked Jim to give me his assessment of the juice and 2013 harvest – a small and early harvest this year: (apologies for the link only, this is from Vine, at least you know it’s only 6 seconds long!)
Afterwards we headed to the tasting room for a tasting of their iconic wines. They make a series of Old Vine Garden wines, the Freedom Shiraz – made from the oldest shiraz vines, the Orphan Bank shiraz which is made from vines that were rescued by the winery (the vines were about to be bulldozed over when they stepped in, dug up the vines and replanted them on their property), the Fifth Wave Shiraz, which is from 70 yr old cabernet and the 35 yr old Jackmans Cabernet which was passed on to them by the legendary Barossan Arthur Jackman when he retired.
All were wines of great intensity and depth. What I didn’t taste were jammy or unbalanced wines. Finesse and elegance get thrown around a lot when talking about wine quality but these were some great wines to drink. And we took a couple to dinner afterwards at FermentAsia, a great Vietnamese restaurant in Tanunda. There aren’t many places to eat in Tanunda but this place is fantastic!
We had a couple of whites from Langmeil and Jim just asked our waiter to surprise us. He’s a frequent diner there (as most of Barossa is, I think) and there were plenty of waving hello and people stopping by to say hello while we ate. Barrosans sure are a friendly bunch.
Jim brought along a medium sweet riesling, the Live Wire 2012. He said they labeled it that to avoid confusion with the well known Rieslings of Eden Valley, which are bone dry and a different wine profile altogether. Their riesling, which is indeed medium sweet but with great acidity, however, was great with the Vietnamese dishes we had, which included sweet and salty minced beef in betel nut and marinated pork belly. That had to be some of the best Vietnamese food I’ve had in a long time.
I had a great visit with Jim both at his winery and at dinner. If you find yourself there, be sure to look them and their 170 year old vines up. Oh,yeah and don’t forget to try the wines!