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.

Custom Wine Gift Ideas

Custom gift ideas

Custom Personalised Wine Bottles

Perfect for Christmas, Birthdays, Corporate Gifts and Special Events

You choose the wine and packaging, we do the rest!

We offer a personalised boutique wine experience for our customers. Your custom label or personal message can be added to a selection of wine styles including cleanskins and current labelled stock.

Choose from ready-to-drink cleanskin reds or fortified wines of various age and complexity. We can also arrange presentation packs of 1-4 bottles.

Current reds available: Cabernet Shiraz 2012, Old Vine Shiraz 2012

Fortified wines available: Aged blends of Muscat, Semillon or Tawny style

375mL  from $8 per bottle

750mL – from $10 per bottle

This is the perfect gift for loved ones, corporate gifts, wedding bonbonnieres or events.

Contact us to discuss your ideas and get a quote!

The Darkie: A Classic Barossa Shiraz

The Darkie Barossa Shiraz 2003

The Darkie 2003 Barossa Shiraz

The Darkie Old Vine Shiraz which is a wonderful example of a classic Barossa Shiraz, and is the jewel in the crown at Liebichwein even amongst the many fabulous table wines and fortified wines on offer. The Darkie is a single vineyard flagship wine dedicated to Ron’s uncle Clarence Walter Liebich (1920-1988) who himself loved a good Barossa shiraz and regularly encouraged Ron’s winemaking abilities. He also planted the old 40 acre block of Shiraz grapes back in 1969 from which we source all the fruit for winemaking.

But why the name? A Barossa Shiraz is red – so why is it called ‘The Darkie’? Well…

Clarence Walter ‘Darkie’ Liebich was the second of three sons to Benno Liebich, who founded Rovalley Wines in 1919 at Rowland Flat. Rovalley Wines, and then Liebichwein which came after it, were known for their range of table wines and fortified wine including many port style Tawnys. In 1941, oldest son Leslie Alwyn ‘Lofty’ Liebich took over winemaking duties, and was succeeded as chief winemaker in 1953 by Clarence, his brother. Clarence Walter Liebich (or ‘Darkie’, as he was locally known due to his full head of dark black hair) was always a big fan of local Barossa Shiraz and other rich, hearty reds, and enjoyed sharing his passions in winemaking with nephew Ron. When Ron established his own boutique winery, it was only natural to create a big bold Shiraz in honour of Uncle Darkie who had inspired him along the way – and so in 1996, the Darkie Shiraz was born.

Vineyard: A lot goes into making a high quality Barossa Shiraz. Initially the vines receive minimal attention and we allow nature to do the work. Dead arm affliction reduces yield but enhances flavour as does the use of hand-pruning and minimal irrigation. The vines grow on heavy black biscay soil at Rowland Flat on the eastern foothills of the Barossa. Vintages are very consistent in terms of quality and low yield averaging 2 tonne per acre, producing concentrated table wines and vintage fortified wine too.

Winemaking: Traditional techniques of hand plunging, basket-pressing with no fining or filtration were employed for fuller flavour. The Darkie is a unique Barossa shiraz that has been maturing for over five years in various aged American and French hogshead barrels, producing a multi-layered wine that showcases an enticingly rich nose, balanced intense flavours and subtle oak characters.

Taste Notes: The Darkie Shiraz nose typically exhibits black cherries, vanilla, chocolate with hints of sweet anise. A showcase of everything that makes Barossa shiraz so enjoyable, The Darkie Shiraz boasts amazingly complex concentrated flavours that fill the whole mouth, lingering long after the first sip. All this is perfectly balanced with the subtle oak maturation and super silky tannins. We recommend drinking at any age, but patiently cellaring for another 10-20 years will reward any wine connoisseur. Each vintage is unique and will have an initial impact that changes with each mouthful.

  • Vintage 2009 – a refined elegant wine with aromatic perfume, ripe plums, cherries and hints of savoury note like black olive, soft and complex
  • Vintage 2010 – exhibits more intense fruit characters balanced by the soft oak, dark brooding nose full of black cherries, chocolate mingled with sweet spiced vanilla
  • Vintage 2012 – a classic fruit-driven wine displaying ripe cherries, vanilla, chocolate and sweet spice with a  seductively smooth, lingering finish

Out of all of the table wines and fortified wine on offer at Liebichwein, The Darkie Old Vine Shiraz is in a category of excellence all of its’ own. 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.

Like any good Barossa shiraz, it sells out very soon after it becomes available – something Uncle Darkie would be glad to hear!

Purchase Vintage 2012 here.

 

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.

A perfect weekend in Barossa Valley

Barossa Ranges in Summer with lush green vines

Our perfect weekend in Barossa Valley begins with driving through the Adelaide Hills. If you’re coming from Adelaide city, take the scenic drive winding along Gorge Road through Cudlee Creek, Kersbrook and Williamstown. If you’re around on a Saturday morning, you can catch delicious locally grown and made produce at the Barossa Farmers Market in Angaston open from 7:30 to 11:30am.

Follow this up with lunch at one of the many cellar doors and cafes. You can get a really good value feed me option at Harvest Kitchen. There are many cafes in Tanunda such as Black Bird Coffee House, Keils and Darlings Cafe. In the southern end of the Valley, we recommend The Table Cafe and Vintage Chef Co.

Barossa food Apex Bakery preztels

For a feed of traditional German-style food, you can’t go past Apex Bakery in Tanunda (open weekdays and Saturdays). Try the salt sticks, pretzels, streusel cake and our family favourite beinenstich (bee sting cake) – a classic Bavarian cake made with brioche dough, pastry cream or custard, topped with a honey-almond mixture. You can also find Barossa Valley Ice Cream and Browns Barossa Gourmet Donuts to stock up on sweet treats.

Now it’s time to explore delicious drinks amongst the 90 cellar doors and a growing number of breweries and distilleries. Many places now take bookings for paid tastings so book ahead allowing enough time to tantalise your taste buds. Take your pick of places to visit just as long as Liebichwein is on your itinerary.

For a weekend dinner, make sure you book ahead as restaurants get busy. We recommend Ferment Asian and Char Barossa in Tanunda, Vintners in Angaston and The Lord Lyndoch just down the road.

Barossa view Menglers Hill in winter

Drives – Menglers Hill, Steingarten Road through to Trial Hill Road, Seppeltsfield and Greenock for village atmosphere and the famous palm trees that line the roads

Walks – Kaiserstuhl, Steingarten Road. There are many useful maps and information from this walking trails website.

Bike rides – The Mawson Trail goes past our driveway and winds further up Steingarten Road. There is a sealed bike trail going through Rowland Flat into Tanunda. There is a useful Barossa By Bike map available on the Barossa Council website. You’ll find handy facilities next to the Barossa Tourism office in Tanunda for public showers and toilets.

For a drink between meals or after dark, head to local wine bar Z Wines on the main street in Tanunda. You’ll find platters for the whole family and local acoustic entertainment in a comfy atmosphere.

There is plenty to do for families. We recommend the Barossa Adventure Station for a fun playground and picnic areas, Barossa Bowland for bowling and dinosaur minigolf. Don’t forget the wonders of the Whispering Wall part of the dam wall located in the Barossa Reservoir Reservoir known for its unique acoustic effects. Words whispered at one side can be clearly heard on the other, more than 100 metres away. Check out the Play and Go website for detailed family-friendly guides for the Barossa region.

Only one hour by car from Adelaide, Barossa Valley is the perfect weekend escape for wine and food lovers. Check out the Barossa Guidebook for more information.

Over 50 Years of Winemaking

Liebichwein Classic Frontignac | Ron Liebich

Ron Liebich is celebrating 53 years involved with Barossa vintages either as a vigneron, winemaker, cellar hand, champion grape treader and simply being a Barossa wine legend!

It was 1968 when he graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College with his Oenology degree. Soon after he had the opportunity to take over from his Uncle “Darkie” Liebich in the winemaking duties and lab analyses at Rovalley Wines which was operated by the wider Liebich family. Since then he’s never looked back. Anyone who’s ever met Ron will know how passionate he is about wine and the local region.

Read more about the Liebich family timeline.

“Ron Liebich walks into Liebichwein’s  Cellar Door, wearing shorts, tee-shirt and trademark pair of snips clipped to his leather belt.

He’s somewhat chirpy today because this Rowland Flat winemaker/grapegrower has just completed his 54th vintage and he reckons it’s a good one too.

He’d know, his grape-stained hands reveal a lifetime of dedication to an industry that has been part of his bloodline for generations, since his grandfather, Benno Liebich started making wine in 1919.

When Ron speaks to The Barossa Mag, he’s just finished picking Muscat, the last grapes to ripen perfectly in his 12 hectares of vineyard planted with a fruit salad of different varieties.”

Read Barossa Mag article ‘A fortified love for wine’ published in June 2022.