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d'Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings 2011 £29.95
D'ARENBERG THE IRONSTONE PRESSINGS
Most of McLaren Vale’s acclaimed and historic vineyards are impregnated with ancient, decomposed laterite granite known as ironstone. Its extraordinary rusty red-brown colour is derived from the iron oxides present in the stone. The larger pieces were cleared from the vineyards in the late 1880s and utilised in many of the buildings at d'Arenberg, most notably the old stables.
Good winter rains ensured adequate sub-soil moisture and set vines up well with healthy canopies. There was unseasonably hot weather during flowering, but this did not affect fruit setting to any significant extent and vigour was beautifully balanced. There was some more heat early in the season, but with berries only just forming in most cases it was not an issue. The rest of the season was mild with nights mild to cool with very little rain. It was another early start to vintage, and both red and whites from 2010 have strong varietal characters and good balance.
Small batches of grapes are crushed gently 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.
Unctuous blackberry and plum notes lay at the heart of this classic d’Arenberg example of a GSM. A spattering of exotic spices the likes of star anise, cardamom and nutmeg cling to the sweet, dark fruits and of course, it wouldn’t be a d’Arenberg wine without a rousing dose of earthy, gamey character. The palate is fleshy and juicy with an almost velvet-like texture. Abundantly warm and generous but sufficiently structured to suggest this wine can go the long hall.
Wine Companion 92 points
The colour is remarkable for an ?11 vintage wine, as is its freshness; savoury/spicy/earthy notes dominate, no bad thing in themselves, now or in the near future, but this is definitely not for the long haul.
The Real Review 89 Points
Medium to deep red colour with a faint tinge of purple. Leathery and savoury earthy aromas dominate the bouquet, the palate is firm and sinewy, tight and savoury, with abundant tannin grip. There is some age development showing, in a positive way. It's slightly lean and bony, and lacks the usual depth of sweet-fruit richness. It's good, though.
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