d’Arenberg mini-verticals & some golden oldies

d’Arenberg enjoyed cult status among Oddbins’ staff and my Oddbins’ Fine Wine customers alike with a mad scramble each year for an allocation of The Deadarm Shiraz, so I wasn’t about to turn down this invitation!

The Laughing Magpie, a McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier blend typically with 15% Viognier at the start but Shiraz (“Dead Arm rejects”) is back-blended to bring the Viognier down to size.

2000 – very gamey nose, spicy currant fruitcake but quite succulent/fleshy too with rich, exotic coconut and cob nut, some orange peel; plenty of interest and plenty of go with firm but ripe supporting tannins.

2001 – a malty nose, with a denser, tight-knit palate showing rich and warm kirsch and cassis flavours; savoury tannins provide ballast/balance.

2002 – my pick of the bunch.  A core of sweet black fruits with exotic orange and lychee notes contrasting with more savoury, meaty black pepper nuances.

2003 – very tarry nose and palate with super ripe, spicy curranty fruit and lifted blueberry.  Very primary, tarry wine.

2004 – those exotic orange and lychee notes, with sweet cherry and berry fruit, this is very opulent, rich and ripe.  Almost a meal in itself.

The Galvo Garage, a McLaren Vale dominated Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc) with some cooler Adelaide Hills’ fruit.

2001 – looking a little warm, savoury and bloody; disappointing.

2002 – a cooler vintage and this has greener notes to the nose and roasted capsicum, dusty palate.  Too green.

2003 – much better balance with sweet cassis and tobacco framed by attractively dusty tannins.  Good fruit purity.

2004 – a real step up with an enticing  complex nose showing bay leaf, mint and cassis; the palate tastes drier/more restrained with succulent black currant and juicy berry and cherry flavours.  Firm tannins suggest good ageing potential.

Coppermine Road – a very accomplished, rich McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon from low-yielding vines (never more than a ton an acre). It rewards time in bottle.

1996 – a bloody, savoury, meat pan juices edge to this but there’s plenty of concentrated fruit on a well-balanced and structured palate.  Impressive.

2001 – a big wine in every sense – big boned with an ample girth of lush black fruits.  A real blast now but will go the distance; wait at least 10 years if you want to dig below the surface and tease out its subtler notes.

2002 – tighter, virtually clammed shut with dusty, chalky tannins – I reckon worth the wait to see how this opens up and expect more restraint than the 2001.

2003 – a greener twist to this wine with roasted green capsicum on the nose and dried herbs edging its black fruit and sour plum palate.

2004 – richly fruited, loaded with blackcurrant and cassis; it is long, succulent and savoury with cedar and toast.

The Deadarm, an iconic McLaren Vale Shiraz made from exceptionally low yielding vines.

1997 – a warm vintage and this is ripe, warm and expansive with a blast of spicy liquorice to its black currant and berry fruit, together with malty oak.  Textured tannins.  Gutsy.

1999 –  very good indeed, tight, dry, savoury and spicy with liquorice, star anise to its intense, coal black fruits.  Ripe but well structured tannins promise a long life ahead.  Great balance and complexity.

2000 – dripping with opulent black berry and currant fruit and lush cassis and blueberry this is much more open-knit than the 99.

2001 – terrific structure, a tightly coiled, imposing wine that tastes drier than the 2000. Bags of potential; sit on it!

2003 – another relatively forward year with flamboyant black and blue fruits and an undertow of minerality to the finish.

Golden oldies – a rare insight into the ageworthiness of these wines.

D’Arenberg Shiraz 1976
– lovely mellow malt-edged plummy fruit, this is rich and a touch gamey with an edge of liquorice; long, very good.

D’Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon 1971 –
a very good vintage and a very good wine with tarry, spicy blackberry and liquorice supported by ample tannin.

D’Arenberg Burgundy 1967
– a blend of Grenache and Shiraz, lighter (bricky) in colour and showing its age more than the previous two this is fading but has that tell tale liquorice to its pleasant, mellow, briary palate.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective

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