This is a very typical expression of shiraz from McLaren Vale. The 2015 vintage of d’Arenberg’s “The Laughing Magpie” has aromatics of plums and spice. The palate has good density of fruit, fresh acidity and is brooding in bearing. This wine can be approached now, but will be best with aeration and short term (2-3 years) cellaring. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.5%. Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
Deeply coloured in the glass, the 2017 vintage of d’Arenberg’s Footbolt McLaren Vale shiraz has brooding aromas of dark plums and licorice. The palate is full bodied, with approachable tannins, a slightly bitter finish and is ready to drink now. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $20. Website: darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
This is another well made shiraz grenache from d’Arenberg and very good value at $20. It has aromas of spice and red fruits. The palate is full bodied, soft and plush. Ready to drink now, this wine can be consumed over the next 5 years. Rating: Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $20. Website: darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
This is a delicious Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a region whose wines I taste infrequently. From the 2015 vintage, the Clefs des Papes has aromas of savoury plums, stones and smoke. The palate has great length and is moreish. This is a great value CNP that is ready to drink now. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $50. Website: n/a.
I’ve had some very good Craiglee shiraz over the years. The 2013 however appears to be a lesser vintage. Its aroma reminds of red fruits and plums, but there is little of the typical pepper of this estate. The palate is pleasant enough, although the finish is a little short and, at times, warming. Ready to drink now, this Craiglee may need more time to develop. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $60. Website: www.craigleevineyard.com.
The 2016 vintage of d’Arenberg’s “The Bonsai” GSM is a blend of 48% grenache, 47% shiraz and 5% mourvèdre. It is quite reticent in its aroma, with some red berry characters. The palate is baked and full bodied in impression, with sweet and savoury edges and somewhat prominent acidity. Ready to drink now, this is sound drinking. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $29. Website: www.darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
I visited McLaren Vale briefly with my fellow MW students in November, with stops at Coriole and Noon. Some vineyard pictures and brief comments follow.
|(Above) Shiraz vines at Coriole, against a backdrop of dry fields. Some (possible) wind damage on shoot tips on right hand side.|
|Fruit set on 1919 shiraz vines at Coriole.|
|Heavy mulching for soil moisture retention on Coriole 1919 shiraz vines.|
|Gobelet trained mourvèdre vines at Noon, and dry soils.|
|Gobelet trained graciano vines at Noon competing with grass and a row of eucalyptus trees, and requiring irrigation lines.|
|Dry grown, gobelet trained grenache at Noon.|
|Some particularly healthy looking grenache vines at Noon, the outside row showing more vigour.|
While not cheap at $100, this is Mudgee shiraz at its most refined. There are gentle aromatics of spice, plums, menthol and some earthiness. In terms of winemaking, after a 3 day cold soak, the wine spent only 5 days fermenting on skins before being pressed off to continue fermentation in barrels (60% new). The palate is full bodied, the tannins supple as might be expected, the finish is long and the balance elegant and poised. Ready to drink now, this wine can be approached over a decade or more. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.8%. Price: $100. Website: huntingtonestate.com.au. Source: Sample.
|Image courtesy of d’Arenberg|
d’Arenberg’s “The Ironstone Pressings” continues its form as a benchmark McLaren Vale GSM. A blend of 70% grenache, 25% shiraz and 5% mourvèdre, the 2016 vintage is savoury and earthy, but with ripe and full flavoured fruit underneath. The palate is full bodied, viscous and has quite firm but ripe tannins and long length on the finish. This wine can be approached now or over the next decade. Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $75. Website: www.darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
The 2014 vintage of Gartelmann’s Mudgee shiraz has rich aromas of plums, oak, vanilla and cedar. The palate is full bodied, with oak and spiced plums on the finish. Approachable if somewhat oaky at this point, this wine may improve with at least five years in the cellar. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.8%. Price: $30. Website: www.gartelmann.com.au. Source: Sample. Tasted: November 2018.