Many of McLaren Vale's vineyards are on free-draining soils underlain with limestone, formed by the
calcareous remains of the local marine fauna. One such creature is the Hermit Crab, a reclusive little
creature that inhabits the cast-off shells of others. The Osborn family thought the name appropriate for
this blend, as it is best enjoyed with shellfish and seafood dishes.
Though winter 2005 was dry, heavy rains in spring saw adequate levels of moisture in most vineyards to
support growth in the 2006 vintage without irrigation. The cool temperatures experienced were ideal for
white grapes, producing fragrant wines with racy natural acidity. Traditional basket pressing was
employed for gentle extraction of flavor from these grapes. The Marsanne was fermented in tank to retain
its fresh, herbaceous characters, while a portion of the Viognier was fermented in barrel for additional
The cooler year is reflected in a mineral nose with notes of fresh runner beans, green tropical fruits and
nectarine stone. The tight palate displays an array of tropical fruits with quince, ginger and almond husks,
and lees characters contributing complexity. Viognier is evident on the mid-palate with silky viscosity,
while the Marsanne comes through on the back palate with nutty, olive stone and dried herb notes.
"Soft and charming. A beguiling mouthful of spicy pear and grapefruit flavors that linger with focus on the open-textured finish. Not as rich as pure Viognier, but better balanced. Drink now through 2010." Wine Spectator
One of the undisputed kings of Australian Shiraz and Rhone varietals, d'Arenberg has managed to turn individuality into an art form by doing a whole lot of little things differently. The original vineyards were established by Joseph Osborn in 1912 in the McLaren Vale region of South Australia. A century on, the estate has grown to 345 acres, and the mantle now rests with fourth-generation winemaker, Chester Osborn. By maintaining a focus on traditional winemaking and nurturing their old-vine material, the Osborn clan has successfully established themselves as one of the country's leading producers of concentrated wines that are full of character.
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McLaren Vale is home to the oldest Australian vineyard, with grapes planted in 1838. It's a coastal area with the Indian Ocean bordering the west, which contributes a cooling factor that prevents the grapes from getting too hot. In all, the climate is a perfect one for the vines.
In McLaren Vale, there are vines as far as the eye can see. As in other parts of Australia, Shiraz and Grenache are the most-planted grapes of the region. While red rules, whites are able to hold their own here too. With the warm yet reasonable Mediterranean climate, white grapes like Chardonnay, Semillon and even some Sauvignon Blanc grow well. The wines are round and smooth and the producers in the region are excellent.
Like the United States, which is about the same size, Australia's winemaking regions are huddled into one or two pockets of the country. The state of South Australia, which produces about 60% of the country's wine, also has the most wineries and sub-regions, including McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Barossa Valley. New South Wales is home to the Hunter Valley, while the smaller, southern state of
Victoria is best known for theYarra Valley. Head way west to the very large state of Western Australia and you'll find the tiny region of Margaret River at the southern tip.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.