Museum Wines: A Taste of Barossa History

Dig into Ron’s cellar of museum wines. Discover vintage finds from his last 25 years of winemaking. There are all kinds of red styles to suit different tastes and budgets. Who remembers Liebich Tempt Tempranillo blend or Thumb-press Cab Merlot (labelled Crackerjack for the first few vintages)? Are there any Potter’s Merlot out there? These are medium-bodied reds that are now super smooth. We’ve dusted off Liebichwein flagship reds The Darkie Shiraz and The Lofty Cabernet if you prefer rich, fuller-bodied reds.
Special museum stock of back vintage bottles are currently available, but in strictly limited quantities. There are select vintages in 750mL and 1.5L magnum sizes. Some vintages were bottled under both cork and screwcap closures since vintage 2002 as that season was such good quality, Ron wanted to preserve the concentrated fruit intensity for decades to come. Various back vintages under cork and screwcap have been opened in recent months and they are all still drinking well.
Do you need a unique gift for a special birthday? For a 30th we can offer 1993 vintage Shiraz or Rare Tawny 30 years old. For a 21st birthday, we have Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz from vintage 2002 which was an excellent season. We have magnums and bottles to suit anniversaries, end-of-year get togethers and Christmas celebrations.
Winemaking: All Liebich red are made using traditional techniques of hand plunging, basket-pressing with no fining or filtration for fuller flavour. Since vintage 2002, Ron decided to start using a mix of cork and screwcap closures on Liebichwein reds to preserve their concentrated flavour intensity and fruitiness even longer. There are some vintages where we offer a 2-bottle pack for you to do your own sensory comparison of cork vs screwcap. To learn more about how red wine develops as it ages, read our blog post.

 

Vintage comments, wine style and some history: 

  • 1998 – Cooler season, yet drier than normal year. Complex wines with good fruit weight and tannin structure to last the distance. Adelaide Crows win second AFL Premiership, The Wiggles first TV series
  • 1999 – Cooler season after a hot, dry summer. Complex reds with good fruit weight and tannin structure to last the distance. Y2K hysteria, Euro is first introduced, Referendum for an Australian Republic is voted down
  • 2000 – Wet spring with hotter and drier season. Concentrated reds from lower yields, medium-bodied wines. Sydney Summer Olympics, GST introduced, Mobile phone growth worldwide
  • 2001 – High winter rainfall, cool and even ripening in autumn. Exceptional vintage! Rich and complex reds, fuller bodied with magnificent mouthfeel. Apple releases iTunes, Sir Donald Bradman died, Movies – Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
  • 2002 – High winter rainfall, cool and evening ripening in autumn. Another exceptional vintage! Rich and complex reds, fuller bodied with magnificent mouthfeel. Huge drought, Water restrictions, Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre opens
  • 2003 – Warm season, crops are lower than average. Wines with rich and ripe fruits, fuller bodied with firm tannins. Australia hosts Rugby World Cup, Brisbane Lions win third consecutive AFL Premiership
  • 2004 – Perfect slow and even ripening conditions. Best vintage this decade! Deliciously complex reds, excellent fruit weight, velvety tannins to age well. Facebook is founded, The Ghan’s first train trip from Adelaide to Darwin, Jetstar launches
  • 2005 – Mild, dry vintage with a hot spell in late summer causing compressed harvesting. Wines with rich and ripe fruits, fuller bodied with powerful tannins at bottling. ABC2 Digital channel launched, Australia loses The Ashes
  • 2006 –  Mild summer with cool autumn, even ripening. Elegant wines, great fruit weight and powerful tannins. Smoking banned in enclosed public places, TV in Australia turns 50
  • 2007 – No reds bottled. Kevin Rudd defeated John Howard to become Prime Minister after Howard’s 11 year stint
  • 2008 – Dry mild summer with a late autumn hot spell. Wines with rich and ripe fruits, fuller bodied with powerful tannins at bottling. Barack Obama became President of USA, Global Financial Crisis, iPhone 3G launch
  • 2009 – Cooler season after a hot, dry summer causing low yields. Elegant wines, more red fruits, savoury notes and medium-bodied than typical vintages. Black Saturday fires Victoria, Queensland floods, First MasterChef, Michael Jackson died
  • 2010 – Best Barossa rainfall in 5 years, moderate season. An outstanding vintage! Complex wines, excellent fruit weight and acidity with tight tannins to last the distance. Julia Gillard becomes Prime Minister, AFL Grand Final draw, iPad launch
  • 2011 – Cooler and wetter year, particularly in other wine regions. Elegant wines, more red fruits and savoury notes and medium-bodied than typical vintages. England wins The Ashes, Cadel Evans wins Tour De France
  • 2012 – Cool start to season, even ripening great for flavour development. Excellent vintage! Complex wines, excellent fruit weight and acidity with tight tannins to last the distance. William & Kate’s first newborn, Gangnam Style released by Psy
  • 2013 – No reds bottled. Tony Abbott became Prime Minister
  • 2014 – Challenging vintage, good spring rains, wet and cool February delayed harvest. Elegant wines, more red fruits and medium-bodied than typical vintages. Australia wins The Ashes, Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ released

Tasting notes from selected wines opened in Oct/Nov 2023:

  • Leveret Vintage 2002 (cork) – Cool start to season, even ripening great for flavour development. Excellent vintage! Complex wines, excellent fruit weight and acidity with tight tannins to last the distance.
  • Potter’s Merlot 2002 (screwcap) – Ripe dark cherries, tobacco, cedar, licorice, refreshing acidity with firm tannins still present
  • Potter’s Merlot 2003 (cork) – Stewed cherries and plums, silky
  • The Lofty Cabernet 1999 (cork) – Complex, ripe blackberries, cranberry, herbal, rich and fruity, soft acid and tannins, drinks younger than it is
  • The Lofty Cabernet 2001 (cork) – Complex nose, stewed rhubarb, dark cherries, sweet spice, silky with a really clean finish
  • The Lofty Cabernet 2004 (cork) – Complex nose, blackcurrant, perfume, licorice, tobacco, soft acid and tannins, still so much fruit
  • The Darkie 2003 (screwcap) – Complex, dark cherries, lifted spices, anise, balanced acidity, some firm tannins still present
  • The Darkie 2004 (screwcap) – Complex, concentrated dark fruits, sweet spice, integrated oak, tannins and fruit, still plenty of life left

Museum Wines Pricelist and Order Form  – download here.

All these rare museum wines will disappear fast. Wooden boxes and gift packaging with personalised notes are available for your special occasion wine on request. Gift boxes are sold separately.

Surprise your tastebuds with a hand curated Premium Museum Red 6 Pack.

Home Barrel Competition – Fortified Wine Judging

Home barrel competition port keg 16x9

Home Barrel Competition 2023
The Liebichwein barrel shed has collected many oak casks of various sizes that house liquid gold. Ron and Janet Liebich are proud to continue the great tradition of ageing and blending fortified wines. Only a few decades ago, Muscat and Tawny used to dominate the Barossa wine scene.

Liebichwein host an annual consumer fortified wine judging competition to celebrate these classic styles and engage with our passionate customer base who manage their own barrels. Previous competition entries have included super-syrupy rare tawny, rare sweet Tokay-like flavours and quite young Tawny blends. All wines entered will get a professional evaluation by Ron and an experienced judging panel including his daughter Briony, an experienced sensory analyst and qualified wine educator. Entrants will receive tasting notes and feedback for each wine entered.

Wine Entry Information

Entries are open Australia-wide as long as a 200mL wine sample can be sent without spilling a precious drop. All entries must be received by 4th September 2023 for judging (entry fee $10 per wine). Entries can be dropped off at Liebichwein during cellar door hours or posted to the winery in a well-sealed clean glass bottle/jar with secure packaging.

Competition Results 2023

Thanks to all entrants from across Australia, some so keen they sent us multiple samples. All wines were of consistent quality with a few jumping out to claim top Gold medals. The top prize winner took home a dipstick trophy with personalised engraving. Congratulations to Allan Gadd!
 
It’s wonderful to see such passion for maturing fortifieds in our wine loving community.

Tempranillo & Petit Verdot | Barossa Valley

TEMPT is a red blend that was released a few times in the history of Liebichwein when the fruit was available. The wine is a unique blend of Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Merlot. Tempranillo and Petit Verdot grapes have been planted on the Liebich property since 2000. The fruit grows in heavy red/black soils on the southern foothills of the Barossa Ranges. The Petit Verdot and Tempranillo vines are some of the oldest in the Barossa Valley region. Merlot came from mature vines over 20 years old.

Traditional techniques of hand plunging, basket-pressing and bottling without fining or filtration, all help to preserve the essence of fruit. All Liebich reds are vegan-friendly due to no fining. Older vintages are very low in sulfites as any initial sulfur dioxide has been used up over an extended time in bottle.

These wines were bottled under screwcap to immortalise the magnificent flavours beyond the life span of cork. Only small batches were made from select vintages over the years. Less than 2 dozen of each vintage remain from a stash of bottles that have been stored in cellar conditions.

All Vintages Produced: 2004, 2014

TEMPT Vintage 2004 – 73% Tempranillo, 15% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, Oak maturation of 8 months in French and Hungarian oak.

Deep, dark red with a brick red tinge. A wholly tempting fruit-driven style with pronounced raspberry and mulberry aromas. Berry, oak and mushroom flavours entwine with the soft fine tannins. A well balanced wine with great length. 13.7 % alc/vol

TEMPT Vintage 2014 – 44% Petit Verdot, 38% Merlot, 18% Tempranillo, Oak maturation for 18 months in seasoned French oak

Deep, dark red with a brick red tinge. A wholly tempting blend. Petit Verdot provides attractive berry fruits, Merlot rounds out the smooth body and a splash of Tempranillo adds depth and lengthens the palate. 14.5 % alc/vol

How Does Red Wine Age in Bottle? Cork vs Screwcap

Liebichwein red Darkie Shiraz cork screwcap

What happens as red wine ages in the bottle? The ageing of red wine in bottle can be affected by many factors including the type of seal used. At Liebichwein we have chosen to use both screwcap and cork for our reds and often do comparative tastings with fascinating outcomes.

Here are a few ways in which cork and screwcaps differ for wine:

  • Oxygen exposure – The key difference between screwcaps and corks is the amount of oxygen exposure that the wine receives during ageing. Cork seals allow a little bit of oxygen into the bottle over time, while screwcaps are a much more airtight seal. So wines under cork with slightly more oxygen ingress will tend to age faster. Tannins become softer, acidity mellows, and flavour complexity develops faster for reds under cork.
  • Consistency – It’s true that screwcaps are so popular now as they are more consistent than cork, which can vary in quality and consistency. Wines with screwcap are less likely to be affected by issues such as cork taint or oxidation, which can affect the wine’s flavour and aroma.
  • Ageability – The long-term ageability of wine with screwcap vs cork seals is still widely debated among wine experts. While some believe that screwcap-sealed wines may not age as well as cork-sealed wines, others argue that screwcaps can provide a more consistent ageing environment, which can lead to more predictable aging patterns.
  • Flavour preservation – Screwcap seals are perfect for preserving fresh fruit flavours of young red wines and wines to be consumed in their youth. Research has shown that cork seals may allow more rapid development of tertiary aromas and flavours such as dried/cooked fruits, leather and earthy notes.

In a nutshell, the development of bottled red wine will depend on a range of factors, including the wine style, grape variety, storage conditions, cellaring time, and personal preference. While screwcap seals are commonplace in recent years due to their consistency and effectiveness at preserving fruit flavours, many wine enthusiasts (and winemakers like Ron Liebich) still prefer the traditional cork seal for its perceived ability to enhance ageing potential and develop complex flavour profiles.

From time to time, we offer museum tastings where we can compare the same vintage sealed with cork and screwcap. Get in touch if you’d like to try this for yourself and we’ll dig out some bottles from the Liebichwein cellar.

Read more about our flagship museum red The Darkie Shiraz and purchase a vertical pack of three different vintages here.

Recipe Ideas with Muscat Barrel-Aged Wine Vinegar

Fortified wine Muscat barrel aged vinegar Barossa

Liebich Barrel-Aged Muscat Vinegar

Delicious sweet and sour Muscat vinegar made from Barossa Muscat fortified wine aged in oak barrels. This vinegar is obtained naturally as wine ages in barrels by “acetobacter”, which transforms the wine alcohol into acetic acid.

Use this vinegar to enhance food flavours. Use in place of red wine and balsamic vinegar to add lovely fruit flavours without adding darker colour to food and dressings. Perfect for a salad, glaze or drizzle over fruit.

Vinegar bottles are in limited stock, and only available at Liebichwein Cellar Door.

Make a Glaze

A sweet sherry style glaze is perfect to accentuate chicken or salmon flavours or use as a sweet dessert glaze on berries or ice cream.

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup Muscat wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp water

Mix sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer to form a thick syrup and remove from heat. Add one teaspoon of water to thin the syrup slightly.

Rosemary Marinade for Meat

  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp good quality mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tangy Fruit Salsa

Finely chop:

  • ½ cup fruit (mango, peach, pineapple)
  • 1 spring onion or ½ red onion
  • 3 tbsp fresh herbs (parsley, coriander, chives)
  • 1 tsp Muscat wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Fresh chiles to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and serve with wraps and tacos.