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d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz Museum Release 2014 £46.87
D'ARENBERG THE DEAD ARM SHIRAZ MUSEUM RELEASE
A small portion of this wine was been held back at the winery for an extended period in order to be released later and closer to maturity, so you can see where these wines can go with some patience.
Since 1912 the Osborn family have grown grapes and made wine in the picturesque surrounds of McLaren Vale. Today fourth generation family member Chester Osborn is at the winemaking helm, making distinctive wines using traditional methods in the winery and the vineyard.
Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often affected vines are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an 'arm' of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity.
A wet winter ensured good sub soil moisture and set up the vines well with healthy canopies. Spring was very dry with above average temperatures, a heavy downpour in January was a welcome relief. Mild conditions during the ripening period produced wines that show an abundance of spicy fruits with great colour, richness and balanced tannins. Vintage started on 30 January, the earliest start on record by one day.
Small batches of grapes are gently crushed and then transferred to five tonne headed down open fermenters. These batches remain separate until final blending. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. The wine is then basket pressed and transferred to a mixture of new and used French oak barriques to complete fermentation. The barrel ferments are aged on lees, there is no racking until final blending and no fining or filtration.
This is one of the more pure fruited versions of this iconic wine that we have seen in recent times. Highly aromatic in the early stages of its life, the nose is dominated by an array of perfectly ripe berry fruits and spicy notes. The dark, earthy and savoury characters that we are well accustomed to, whilst present, seem to be taking a back seat. Nonetheless, they play an integral role in adding depth and complexity here. The palate is similarly positioned, showing almost restrained fruit weight but great depth of flavour and wonderful brightness. What hasn't changed is that line of fine, lively tannins that present themselves early and drive the wine from start to finish, drawing fruit flavour along with them.
The youthful exuberance and purity offers itself up for relatively early consumption (in Dead Arm terms that is). However, the lovely balance between acid and tannin along with the depth of fruit promises greater things to come. Watch patiently as the earthy vineyard expression grows with time. This wine will reach its full potential with bottle age up to at least 20 years. The considerable structure and depth will ensure that the fruit characters will develop over time revealing more complexity. This wine is best stored in an environment free of direct sunlight and with consistent temperatures between 10°C and 15°C.
95 Points James Halliday
Part hand, part machine-harvested, crushed and destemmed, 2-3 weeks on skins in an open headed down fermenter, matured for 20 months in French oak (8% new) and a dab of American oak. Deep crimson-purple; ultra full-bodied and densely packed with the darkest black fruits, licorice, 70% cacao dark chocolate and ripe tannins. Will live forever.