June 21, 2013

d’Arenberg – an amazing life!

The Dead Arm is the icon wine of d’Arenberg and an icon of the McLaren Vale, and almost as iconic as Chester Osborn himself. An icon that is incredibly generous in fruit as well as value. A fact that may not be as appreciated as it should by some prestige Asian buyers who expect to pay bigger bucks for a wine of such stature.

So, what happens when Chester decides to show the naked bones of The Dead Arm to the world?  Create a range of wines is the answer. A range that will hold your interest while exploring the subtleties of the sub-regions of McLaren Vale – each with a impish depiction of Chester on the front. A range that continues the tradition of eclectic names such as the Swinging Malaysian and Blind Tiger.

As with most of the d’Arenberg portfolio, there is always something else going on behind the label other than the obvious, wine.  These wines are made with an eye on keeping the fruit pure to its regional character. Foot treading then basket pressed with care. The focus here is on tannin extraction from the bunches.  Particularly since instead of new oak, old French oak barriques are used with some of these seeing up to 10 vintages already.

The team have also started using stainless steel barriques for selected portions. Horizontal stainless steel cylinders with a similar size to a barrique are used to soften the wines, giving lees contact not oak character.

The sub regions are: 

The cooler Blewitt Springs with its perfumed plushness and smooth tannins. The soils here are deep sands over clay.

Then there is Beautiful View with its sandstone blended with either clay or cool limestone.  Some grainy, firm but still finely honed tannins become apparent in these shirazs and the grenache is certainly pretty.

Only just a little prettier than the Sand Hills grenache. This undulating sandy subregion brings opulence to it and the Garden of Extraordinary Delights Shiraz.

There are 12 single vineyard shirazs and 3 sub-regional grenaches in this remarkably expressive Amazing Sites range.

Here are some of the range:

The Grenaches

d’Arenberg 2010 The Blewitt Springs Grenache ($99) 14.1% –  Ever so fresh peppery, raspberry fruit with some savoury notes opening to strawberry jam in the glass.  Smooth and elegant the fresh fruit and spice hits the mid palate and glides to more peppered fruit on the finish.  The fine powdery tannins are succulent.

d’Arenberg 2010 McLaren Sand Hills Grenache ($99) 14.0% – (Sand on clay vineyards) A pretty grenache with violet, caramel chocolate and raspberry notes.  Stylishly fine talc-like tannins and the flavours last for a full minute. Ripe with a plush velvety liquorice countered by savoury earthiness. Fuller without overwhelming.

d’Arenberg 2010 The Beautiful View Grenache ($99) 13.6% –  The prettier of the Grenache’s of the collection with floral potpourri, ripe raspberry and pepper with underlying meat stock.  Dried roses fill out the finish. The fruit is round, juicy and ripe and textured by fine, fine tannins as you would expect from the pedigree and varietal.

The Single Vineyard Shirazs

d’Arenberg 2010 The Fruit Bat Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99) 14.1% – (Blewitt Springs) Just slightly paler in colour with a decidedly savoury bent of charcuterie, dried herbs and earthy minerality to the dark ripe plum. The generous chocolate coated plums are rich on the palate and the fruit shapes the mouth with firmness and the grainy tannins from the limestone capped soil adding interest.

d’Arenberg 2010 The Blind Tiger Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99) 14.1% – (Blewitt Springs) Selected from 88 year old vines in the Blewitt Springs sub-region, delivering a bounty of densely packed pure red fruit.  This wine is part of the Scarce Earth  initiative. Perfumed with violets, plums underlying dried herbs and pepper. Silky smooth, plush and ripe fruit with pastille like intensity along the fine, although more angular, palate.  The dried herbs become more apparent on finish.

d’Arenberg 2010 Shipsters Rapture Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99) 14.0% – (Beautiful View) A complex concoction with some minerally earth, dried herbs and smoked meat, blackberry tart enhanced with a pinch of cloves. There is vibrancy and juiciness on offer to complement the firmness and finesse of the style and culminates in a finish of earthy forest floor.

d’Arenberg 2010 Swinging Malaysian Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99) 13.8% – (Beautiful View) The name was inspired by this vineyard’s swinging history.  Planted in the 1970’s as shiraz, then grafted to riesling and then back to shiraz with the first posts being Malaysian. This is a more fruit forward style and the bold liquorice and black plum has a more earthy base. A lush version of shiraz that is in keeping with the McLaren Vale texture followed by a hanger of a finish lasting a full sixty minutes.

d’Arenberg 2010 The Bamboo Scrub Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99) 13.9% – (Blewitt Springs) The personality of this wine shines through the smokiness with pure fruit and earthy spice to the juicy, silky depths. The richness is plush and thick on mid palate coated by tannins, fine and lip licking thanks to the deep sandy soil of the cooler Blewitt Springs. The wine finishes with a dollop of plum jam. (youngest vines – ½ to 1 ½ ton per acres)

d’Arenberg 2010 The Amaranthine Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99) 13.8% – (Beautiful View) Purple hues leap from the glass as does the strikingly pure plum fruit, fragrant and poised. This vineyard produces more angular wines with a fine grain to the tannins and a soothing brooding quality to the length.  The fruit purity is rounded by a savoury meat backdrop on the finish providing extra depth.

d’Arenberg 2010 The Garden of Extraordinay Delights Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99) 14.0% – (Sand Hills) Lashings of peppery, black fruit jam and savoury, minerally spice lift from the glass.  It is more opulent and plush than the other Single Vineyards on offer.  A soft and supple wine with more tannin lick, fullness to the earthy pepper finish.  Another wine that is part of the Scarce Earth initiative.


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