Mini Vertical: Peter Lehmann The Mentor

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It seems as though great deals abound here in California since I was able to score two vintage bottles of Lehmann’s Barossa Bordeaux blend “The Mentor” for a pretty fantastic price. Furthermore, Australian wines are not known so much for their ageability, and I was curious how a wine like this, from a major producer, would fair with moderate age on its back. Here are the results:

The Mentor 1999

A big cassis blast on the nose and not showing fatigue. Wood, eucalyptus and cedar smoke. Quite aromatic and very Australian. However, the palate was definitely a lot softer than I remember recent versions of this wine being. Notes of caramel opened the palate, but it was the purity of the cassis that was most impressive – one of the more authentic expressions I’ve tasted. It reminded me of an ice cream shop I loved when I was a kid that home made black currant ice cream by folding numerous fresh berries into it – and man was that good. Quite a long finish, and actually semi-earthy. The 9 years of age has made this quite an elegant wine, even if it is not super complex. It has layered very nicely and is still an excellent wine.

Very Good+
$25 at K&L

The Mentor 2002

Showing cedar, chocolate, cassis, eucalyptus and blackberry on the densely layered nose, this promised a lot. The palate, however, was a bit disjointed and this is definitely not showing as well as it did last year. In fact, this has become alsmost too cashmere in texture, and it lacks the layering and elegance of the 99. Cassis and cedar predominate on the palate, which feels quite round in the mouth. So, while the wine has good flavour, it is lacking the punch I expected from its more youthful visage.
Very Good to Very Good+
$25 at K&L

Clearly these wines can age, although I would suspect there is reasonable bottle and vintage variation in the quality of the aged wines. Also, I don’t find them to be that much more expressive or complex than the most recent vintages; rather, the difference is in texture and elegance. I will enjoy continuing to sample some older Aussie wines to get a fuller sense of how they fare over time.

Comments

  1. Edward
    April 15, 2009

    Shea,

    Yet again, another well spotted bargain! Barossa Cabernet can be delicious, by favourite is the now defunct Seppelt Dorrien label, that the bean counters decided to mothball some years ago. One of the more optimistic wine critics (J. Oliver) gives the 2002 Mentor a drinking window up to 2022!

  2. Shea
    April 15, 2009

    Interesting, I suspect the 2002 is going through a ‘mute’ period right now, then. It would be interesting to try it again in a few years. The 99 was showing really well.

    I wonder if I can find that Seppelt on some vintage wine website.

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