Langhorne Creek was for long a hidden jewel in the South Australian grape growing tapestry. Its cool climate is similar to that of Coonawarra; a grape growing history dating back 170-plus years; and three family-owned and run wineries whose wine show records make winning trophies and gold medals look easy. Wolf Blass took high quality grapes at low prices, added new American oak to finish the fermentation of cabernet, shiraz and malbec, and won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1974, ’75 and ’76.

 When Orlando Wyndham needed large volumes of grapes to fuel its Jacob’s Creek rocket ship in the mid 1990s, it spent $15 million using GPS and laser-guided planting, ultimately lifting Langhorne Creek’s vineyards from 1650ha to over 4400ha. Today there are over 20 red varieties, blitzed by $22 million of shiraz, and $14.5 million of cabernet sauvignon (in 2021).

The three wineries are Bleasdale, Bremerton and Lake Breeze, each rated 5 stars since 2011. Murphy’s Law demoted Lake Breeze to 4.5 stars in the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion, the year it was named Best Value Winery in the country (with four wines at 96 and 95 points, another two at 94 points).

 The roots of the Lake Breeze property date back to the late 1880s with Arthur Follett planting vines and grazing dairy cows. Son Len established the Bremer View Illawarra Stud in 1932, continued by third generation Ken who also placed emphasis on upgrading the vineyards, planting the cabernet and shiraz that dominate today’s 90ha. The first Lake Breeze wines were made in 1987; now fourth generation sees brothers Greg as the winemaker, Roger export and sales, and Tim managing the vineyard.

 The 16 prior vintages of the 2020 Lake Breeze Cabernet Sauvignon have received 24 trophies and 60 gold medals, finishing its fermentation in barriques a la Wolf Blass. My tasting of the 15 current release portfolio yielded one wine at 98 points, and two each at 97, 96 and 95 points, the remainder 94-90, one 88. Astonishing.

 2020 Lake Breeze Section 54 Langhorne Creek Shiraz

Some whole berry but no stem inclusion; 9 days on skins; matured in French barriques (25% new) for 15 months. This is a wonderfully elegant wine with a profusion of red and black berry fruits sustained by its silky mouthfeel, fine tannins thrumming on the finish.

97 points, drink to 2040, 14.5% alc, Screwcap, $26

 2021 Lake Breeze Old Vine Langhorne Creek Grenache

90yo vines, 10% whole bunch in small open fermenters; 10 days on skins; finished fermentation and mlf in used barriques; matured 7 months. The brilliant crimson-purple hue announces a beautiful grenache, bursting with juicy red fruits backed up by fine-spun tannins giving a savoury farewell.

96 points, drink to 2035, 14.5% alc, Screwcap, $28

2020 Lake Breeze Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

Open fermented, finishing in French barriques (35% new) and matured for 20 months. Bottled Dec ’21 for release Sep ’22. The crust of tannins and oak that surround the polished blackcurrant fruit will soften until its release and continue thereafter for many years.

95 points, drink to 2040, 14% alc, Screwcap, $28

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