Under the current custodianship of Chester Osborn, d’Arenberg has continued to flourish with new wines being introduced regularly to keep the brand fresh. While some of the newer wines have names that seem bonkers, such as The Cenosilicaphobic Cat Sagrantino Cinsault and Stephanie the Gnome with Rose Tinted Glasses Shiraz Sangiovese, the family remain respectful of their history and have made sure that the new sits amicably beside the traditional.
The ‘traditional’ includes the d’Arenberg coat of arms containing the distinctive red stripe. The ‘new’ reflects the impish sense of humour that prompts Chester’s choice of shirt and the names that appear on the labels. That distinctive red stripe and quirky sense of humour has landed the family in some hot water with the Mumm Champagne house, hence the change of name recently for their sparkling wine from Dadd to Polly. And yes, there is a great back up story for ‘Pollyanna Polly’ too. It was a nickname for Chester’s mother apparently.
While the family are keen to take on any new challenge as far as grape varieties, new techniques and new markets, they remain true to their McLaren Vale roots. Hence, Shiraz forms the back bone of their offering starting with the Stump Jump through to the Amazing Sites Shirazs. The Footbolt and The Dead Arm were the first in the line up.
d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2012 is one of those wines that you keep coming back to year after year. Why? Because you know it will be good, which makes it an easy decision. The 2012 is no exception, with complex blackberry fruit with plenty of dried sage, pepper and liquorice. It has been rounded out with powdery tannins, and is fresh and long. It packs a lot into its $18 price point.
d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2011 ($65)
One of Australia’s classic Shirazs and one that will happily endure time in the cellar. It is rich with typical McLaren Vale black fruit and red fruit, with exotic spice, olives and dried lavender. A careful oak regime of old and new French and American oak makes this fruit the hero and imminently approachable now. The youthful fruit arrives with an explosion into your mouth thanks to the lift from some subtle alcohol warmth but it does not dominate. Nothing in this wine dominates, it is all elegantly in balance. It is a wine that draws you in to have another sip as it evolves in the glass.