Region: Barossa Valley
Sparkling Shiraz is quintessentially Australian. Living in Europe it was actually quite difficult to source any at all. A number of wine store owners informed me that there wasn't enough demand for sparkling reds which confirms that outside of Australia sparkling Shiraz is not really accepted or understood. Eventually I finally found a small quantity of Peter Lehmann Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz in a small wine store of which I purchased the majority.
Sparkling Shiraz was first produced in the 1880's in South Australia. The early 1930's-1950's saw the Seppelt winery at Great Western in Victoria become known as the home of Australian sparkling Shiraz, or sparkling Burgundy as it was commonly referred to at the time. Today Seppelt is still Australia's largest producer of sparkling wines, though there are numerous other wineries also producing sparkling Shiraz. More information about the history of Sparkling reds in Australia can be found in this well researched article by Dr. John Wilson of the Wilson Vineyard.
Peter Lehmann initially started with the production of a small number of cases of sparkling Shiraz for personal consumption in the 1980's. The first serious sparkling shiraz for public was released almost twenty years later in 1999 (from the 1994 vintage). The wine is produced using the method champenoise where secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. It has spent 6 years cellaring on tirage (or on the lees) before disgorgement which allows the wine to gain further complexity.
The wine is named after the Queen of Sheba (also depicted on the label), member of the Ethiopian royal family. Not all that much is known about her, although she is mentioned in a number of key religious books such as the Bible and the Koran. In the limited literature references to her she is described as a mystical, exotic, dark beauty; as "dark [am I] and comely". As wise as she was beautiful, she was blown away by the wisdom of Solomon, even converting to his God. It is also possible that more took place considering Solomon was quite the ladies man.
Pinkish, brown head when poured. This is black, red in colour with brown towards to the edge of the glass. Rich, fruity nose of ripe blackberries and some hints of American oak. Plenty of sweet rich blackberry and plummy palate with a lovely fine bead and some hints of tannin. Nicely balanced with good length on the slightly bitter finish. Certainly dark and comely, this is a lovely example of Sparkling Shiraz.