This Week’s Wine Tasting

Australian Wine

d’Arenberg Winery

 

d’Arenberg is one of the most significant wineries in McLaren Vale. In 1912 Joseph Osborn, a teetotaller and director of Thomas Hardy and Sons, purchased the well-established Milton Vineyards of 25 hectares in the hills just north of the townships of Gloucester and Bellevue, now known as McLaren Vale.

Joseph’s son Francis Ernest (‘Frank’) Osborn left medical school, choosing to forsake the scalpel for pruning shears. He soon increased the size of the vineyard to 78 hectares. Fruit was sold to local wineries until the construction of his own cellars was completed in 1928. Dry red table and fortified wines were produced in ever increasing quantities to supply the expanding markets of Europe.

In 1943 Frank’s son Francis d’Arenberg Osborn, universally known as “d’Arry”, returned from school, age 16, to help his ill father run the business, eventually assuming full management in 1957. In 1959 d’Arry decided to launch his own label d’Arenberg, named in honour of his mother, Frances Helena d’Arenberg.

It was a small and humble start but the wines gained immediate cult status amongst imbibers and judges. The 1968 Cabernet Sauvignon won the Jimmy Watson Trophy at the 1969 Royal Melbourne Wine Show and the 1967 Red Burgundy (Grenache based) was awarded 7 trophies and 29 gold medals in Australian capital city wine shows. By the 1970’s d’Arenberg wines had become very fashionable, having gained a significant national and international profile in less than 20 years.

The winemaking processes of the past have been maintained, capturing the unique small-batch character of the wines and the true flavour of the McLaren Vale region. All grapes, red and white, are basket-pressed. The reds are still traditionally fermented with the grape skins (caps) submerged in open wax-lined concrete fermenters utilising the age-old technique of foot-treading.”


d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab 2012
McLaren Vale, Australia. 55% Viognier, 45% Marsanne. Matured in oak barrels for 8 months. “Small batches of grapes are crushed gently and transferred to stainless steel basket presses. Fermentation is long and moderately cool to retain fresh fruit characters. About 3% underwent wild fermentation for extra complexity. 14% of the Viognier is fermented in aged French and American Oak to add mouthfeel and support the subtle Viognier tannins. The Viognier and Marsanne components received similar treatment, but are not blended until the final stages of the winemaking process.

Many of McLaren Vale’s vineyards are on free-draining soils underlain with limestone, formed by the calcareous remains of the local marine fauna. One such creature was the Hermit Crab, a reclusive little crustacean that inhabits the cast-off shells of others. The Osborn family thought the name appropriate for this, McLaren Vale’s first ever blend of Viognier and Marsanne. “Hermit” is also an abbreviation for the French appellation of Hermitage, where the Marsanne grape variety dominates.

The Viognier throws the first punch in this wonderfully aromatic wine with its heavenly lift of candied ginger and crunchy, yet sweet white nectarine. A deeper look unveils the more complex Marsanne notes of green papaya and pistachio. An abundance of stone fruits hold sway over the sumptuous attack and mid palate. The finish is surprisingly savoury. The Marsanne’s nuttiness is quite persistent and coupled with a delicate hint of sea spray.”

89 Wine Spectator– “Tight, spicy and appealing, with pear and lychee flavors, well-modulated to fly smoothly on the medium-weight frame. Shows impressive persistence on the finish.”

$16.99

 

d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2011
McLaren Vale, Australia. Aged in oak barrels 12-18 months. “Originally known as ‘The Old Vine Shiraz’, the named was changed in 1996 to honour Joseph Osborn. Joe was a successful racehorse owner and Footbolt was the pride of his stable. In 1912 he made the hard decision to sell his horses to purchase the d’Arenberg property.

Small batches of grapes are crushed gently and then transferred to five tonne headed down open fermenters. These batches remain separate until final blending. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. The wine is then basket pressed and then transferred to a mixture of new and used French and American oak barriques to complete fermentation. The barrel ferments are aged on lees, and there is no racking until final blending. This wine does not undertake fining or filtration prior to bottling.

The cool ripening conditions of the 2011 vintage have helped craft a wine that is refined yet structured. The nose is incredibly lifted and fragrant, red fruits and peppery spices feature strongly. As the wine breathes we are struck by a raft of darker and more earthy aromas such as mulberry, black plum, soot and baking spice. The palate is pleasantly bright with lively acidity and elegant fruit weight. A generous dose of mineral fruit tannin ensures the wine is structured and wonderfully long. As this wine ages it will develop more generosity and complexity through the mid palate, but the acid and tannin structure will ensure it stays lively and long.”

87 Wine Spectator– “Dark and spicy, showing blackberry notes at the core, with savory spice and meat accents on the finish.”

$18.99

 

d’Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
McLaren Vale, Australia. Aged an average of 12 months in new and old French and American oak barrels and large casks. “The High Trellis vineyard was planted in the late 19th century and received its nickname because in the 1890’s its vines were the first at d’Arenberg to be trained above knee height. Over the past four decades, Cabernet Sauvignon from the High Trellis vineyard has been released under the d’Arenberg label to consistent critical acclaim. Indeed the first to be exhibited, won the coveted Jimmy Watson trophy at the 1969 Melbourne Wine Show, something d’Arry Osborn constantly reminds his son and fourth generation winemaker, Chester Osborn.

Small batches are crushed in the Demoisy open-mouthed, rubber toothed crusher and then transferred to five-tonne headed-down open fermenters. These batches remain separate until final blending. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. When tannin extraction is just right the wine is basket pressed and transferred to a mixture of new and old French and old American oak barriques and large casks to complete primary and secondary fermentation. The barrel fermented component is aged on lees to keep the wine fresh while also reducing the oak influence. There is no racking until final blending.

The nose is fresh and lifted, full of violets and blackcurrants mixing with leafy aromatics and violets. The oak supplies a touch of cedar adding complexity with the typical soulful earthiness of d’Arenberg reds. The palate is textured and lithe, coated by lacy tannins with a core of cassis, licorice and plum fruit mixed with earth, graphite and a mineral tail.  It’s well weighted, fresh and balanced, inviting now or will reward the patient. Like all d’Arenberg wines, decanting will help this wine show its best, it will age gracefully for up to ten years if cellared carefully.”

89 Wine Spectator– “Fresh and focused, this steely style offers almond and black tea overtones to the dark berry flavors, finishing with refinement.”

$18.99

 

 

“The name ‘Stump Jump’ pays homage to a significant South Australian invention – the Stump Jump plough. As well as clearing the land around McLaren Vale, it was adopted worldwide in the late 19th century because of its ability to ride over stumps and gnarled roots, saving farmers valuable time and energy.”

 

d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Lightly Wooded Chardonnay 2011
McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Australia. “Parcels of fruit are selected from our vineyards in the McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Once they have been gently crushed, the grapes are basket pressed to softly extract the juice from the skins. 60% of the juice is partially or fully fermented in a mixture of older French and American oak to add a touch of spice and mouthfeel. Once fermentation is complete the winemakers taste all batches to determine which will suit this gentle and fruity style of Chardonnay.

Very aromatic to start, lifted citrus blossom mix with white peaches and nectarines. Fresh and zesty on the palate, the oak lends support and gives a lovely creamy mouthfeel with texture and spice.

87 Wine Spectator– “Bright and refreshing, with pineapple and grapefruit notes set on a dry, lively frame.”

$10.99

 

d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz 2011
McLaren Vale, Australia. Aged in old French and American oak and large casks. “This wine is the combination of many individual parcels of wines that flowed down from senior wines in the d’Arenberg stable. It also includes parcels from a range of new growers. Red winemaking at d’Arenberg is very traditional and simplistic. All of the reds wines are fermented in headed-down open fermenters prior to being pressed in our traditional basket-presses, then matured in barriques and large casks prior to bottling at the winery.

The nose is chock-full of fresh blackberries, cherries and dark chocolate sprinkled with spices. The palate is fresh and juicy, ripe red fruits mix with plums, blackcurrant, flowers and a twist of black pepper.”

87 Wine Spectator– “Fresh and polished, offering walnut-accented blackberry flavors on a medium-weight frame. Shows juicy acidity on the finish.”

$10.99

 

d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Red 2011
South Australia. Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre. Aged in old French and American oak and large casks. “This wine is the combination of many individual parcels of wines that flow down from senior wines in the d’Arenberg stable. Winemaking at d’Arenberg is very traditional and simplistic. The red wines are fermented in headed-down open fermenters. To get the right amount of colour and tannin extraction wader clad cellar hands foot tread the ferments. The skins are then separated via the traditional method of basket pressing then matured in barriques and large casks.

A very pure expression of this popular wine. All three varieties play an important role in the wine’s overall perception. The Shiraz offers dark plum fruits, mulberries and licorice with plenty of concentration, depth and velvety tannin. The Grenache adds a lovely lusciousness to the wine with raspberry, blueberry and floral notes adding prettiness. Both of the afore mentioned varieties also give a little white pepper character which has been accentuated in the cooler vintage and really acts as a point of interest. Finally, the Mourvedre provides a perception of elegance and restraint through its lovely line of lovely red fruits with a hint of dried herb and importantly, a fine chalky tannin that carries all these characters to a long and wonderfully moreish finish.”

89 Wine Spectator– “Fresh and crisp, with a distinct mineral note weaving through the juicy plum and spice flavors, lingering pleasantly on the refined finish.”

$10.99