2015 d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz McLaren Vale


96 points Robert Parker

Black cherries and black olives mark the nose of the 2015 The Dead Arm Shiraz, d’Arenberg’s flagship bottling. It’s a blend of older and younger vines from different sites, depending on what the fruit has to offer. Full-bodied, concentrated and firmly structured, it’s nevertheless velvety on the long finish, picking up hints of licorice and tarragon. It should be approachable sooner than The Coppermine Road Cabernet, but it still deserves a couple of years in the cellar.

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One suspects that Chester Osborne, of flamboyant shirt fame, has grown his family’s wine empire beyond all imaginings. The family purchased 160 acres in McLaren Vale in 1912 and built their winery in 1927; first crush was in 1928. Vineyard holdings now cover 500 acres. For years, much of the wine was sold in bulk to Penfolds. No doubt that helped shape the house style, as Osborne says, “I’m not shy of tannins.” The bulk of the vast range revolves around McLaren Vale stalwarts like Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, but Osborne has expanded the range with offers as diverse as white Rhône-style blends, botrytis Riesling and (his latest) Mencía, which Osborne claims ripens later than Shiraz, hence avoiding the worst of the summer temperatures. His visionary Cube—a multisensorial exhibit/fine dining restaurant/tasting room—made waves when it was first proposed and has attracted a huge number of visitors since it was completed. Time constraints being what they are on trips like this, I didn’t have a chance to try out the restaurant, where the average meal is something like ten courses and four hours. Maybe next time.


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