75cl * Vegan * 15% ABV * McLaren Vale, South Australia
Dubbed the Willy Wonka of the wine industry, Chester Osborn is the fourth generation winemaker of d’Arenberg since his grandfather started growing grapes in McLaren Vale in 1912. He's put the area even more resolutely on the map with arguably the world's most bonkers cellar door - The d’Arenberg Cube. This abstract five-story Rubik’s Cube of a building attracts daily visitors and houses a gourmet restaurant, bars, tasting rooms, museum, and event space.
D’Arenberg has built its reputation on small-batch wines known for their rich, robust, and bold flavours. Insiders will also know that their process of creating wines bucks the trends, often to produce wines the old fashion way, with little intervention, and using sustainable farming techniques. The Dead Arm Shiraz encompasses the d'Arenberg ethos that every vineyard has a personality which is encouraged to flourish with minimal intervention in the vineyard and winery. Through time honoured techniques such as open fermentation, foot treading and basket pressing, this personality is allowed to shine.
Dead Arm Shiraz is so named after the vine disease caused by the Eutypa Lata fungus that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. One half, or 'arm', of the vine slowly turns to dead wood, resulting in low yielding, very potent fruit from the healthy side of the vine, and ultimately bolder, more structured wines. Since its release in 1993, The Dead Arm Shiraz has received many accolades and awards, including Wine of the Year at the London Wine Competition, 2020 for the 2017 vintage.
Brooding and alluring, plum, blackberry, liquorice and spice entwine with a raft of dark, earthy notes. This wine will have you second guessing as it skips between red fruits and lifted spice notes on the one hand to more brooding, dark, ashen, earthy aromas on the other. A sign of the vintage no doubt. The seasonal conditions are even more evident on the palate where flavour, tannin and acid are in perfect balance.
While enjoyable in youth, this wine will reach its full potential with bottle age up to at least 15, if not 20 years.
No fining or filtration has taken place, which may leave sentiment in the bottle, so decanting is highly recommended. Serve between 15°C-18°C.
Huon Hooke, The Real Review: 95 points Deep, dense purple/red colour, with concentrated chocolate and plum aromas and flavours, a fair degree of oak but not overdone, and a trace of reduction on the early nose. Dense, powerful, concentrated but all things in harmony. A biggie but a goodie.
Winner: Wine of the Year - London Wine Competition, 2020.
94, James Suckling