Sunday, April 10, 2011

D'Arenberg "The Footbolt" Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia

Chester d'Arenberg Osborn

Chester Osborn, winemaker and viticulturist at D'arenberg winery, says:

   "It is my aim to never make a wine that looks sterile...I want to see it all in my wines; I want a wine that has edges of all sorts of complexities such as spices, meats, compost and forest floors etc… "

   I'm used to hearing words like that from wineries that charge upwards of $30 to $50 and beyond - but recently I'm hearing more and more winemakers with modest prices saying the same thing. They seek to express their terroir with all of it's nuances, quirks and "flaws". I say "flaws" because some people look at compost and forest floors and think: "how could a consumer ever want to have that in their Shiraz?"

   How could I not want that, if that's exactly what your land is trying to impart on the wine?

   D'Arenberg winery ( ) is in the McLaren Vale of South Australia. A robust 180 acres under vine, d'Arenberg has plantings aging back to 1912 in the case of their Shiraz. They have a versatile and complex portfolio including GSM blends, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sparkling wines, Fortified and so on... an impressive amount of work for one man to lead the entire winemaking and viticulture team. Chester seems to be doing it with his own inimitable style and winning awards and consumer loyalty as he goes.

d'Arenberg in Spring
   D'Arenberg wines are now sold in over 60 countries around the world - not bad for a mid-sized (by Australian standards) winery. The winery was recently (2010) awarded the Winery of the Year title from , one of the largest wine retailers in the world. If that wasn't enough, they also recognized the d'Arenberg Stumpjump Shiraz as being the Wine of the Year. At the McLaren  Vale wine show, the winery also won 3 (count 'em three) gold medals and the trophy for Best McLaren Vale pre-release wine. Then in Jim Halliday's Australian Wine Companion 2011, ( ) , the d'Arenberg Deadarm Shiraz earned 94 points - placing it as a permanent fixture in the Australian wine icon constellation.

2006 "The Footbolt" Shiraz, d'Arenberg winery
McLaren Vale, South Australia
14.5% ABV, $24 CAD   ** EXCELLENT VALUE **
soil :              primarily ironstone and chalky rock with a thin covering of clay loam
maturation :    20 months new and old American and French oak
  • visual:   clean; fully intense plummy garnet core with slight cherry-brick rim
  • nose:   clean; moderate+ intense developed nose of candied blackberry compote, worn leather, dried dark flowers, dried black cherries, soft and yet rich dark coffee nuances, finish of light cinnamon
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ red currant acids, moderate+ chalky tannins, moderate+ alcohol, moderate body, moderate+ intense and developed flavors mimicking the nose well... hints of very dark chocolate and black plums. Very good balance and structure, medium+ length on the palate
  • conclusion:   drinks very well now to 2013 due to vibrant acids and good concentration of flavors
  • PAIRINGS:   at the D'Arrys restaurant at the winery - they have a breaded lamb chop which I think would pair perfectly... use some savory herbs like wild thyme and rosemary and they will play delightfully off the dried fruit and coffee flavors in the wine

Joseph Rowe Osborn
   An impressive pedigree for a winery started by a man (Joseph Rowe Osborn) who abstained from drinking, and then his son Frank who sold his racehorses to start the d'Arenberg legacy. D'Arenberg was Frank's mother's maiden name, and he took the name for his winery to honor his mother, just as Frank's son D'Arry then named this wine "The Footbolt" for his father's most prized and successful racehorse. Now in it's fourth generation as a family business, Chester seems more then capable of giving respect to all the generations that came before him and yet still pushing off and driving the winery in his own direction.... a toast then:

   "to respecting where we came from, and daring to go where we dream"

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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