The vineyards and bushland that surround the d'Arenberg winery are home to a unique native
Australian bird, the Kookaburra, famous for its distinctive laughing call. Winemaker Chester Osborn's
daughters named their two wild pet Kookaburras the "Laughing Magpies." The Magpie plumage is
black with a stripe of white feathers and bears no resemblance to its famous cousin, but the name has
stuck as it is the perfect choice for McLaren Vale's first ever Shiraz (black)/ Viognier (white) blend.
The wine has a dark, saturated appearance with a violet-crimson hue. Maraschino cherries, spiced
fruit peel, ginger and apricot stones are apparent on the nose, with black tea, olive and tarry notes
appearing as the wine opens up. The palate is soft and generous, showing juicy flavors of blueberries,
ribena, cherries and dark chocolate. Tea-like tannins are abundant and combine with defined acidity
to provide structure and length. The long, refined finish reveals this wine's aging potential.
"Rich, velvety, luscious fruit flavours saying more about McLaren Vale than viognier; chocolate rather than apricot; however, no niggles about the wine." -James Halliday
"The 2006 The Laughing Magpie is composed of 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier. Deep crimson/violet in color, it offers up notes of cherry, ginger, black tea, tar, and blueberry. Medium to full-bodied, layered flavors of cherry, blueberry, and dark chocolate make an appearance accompanied by ripe tannin and excellent concentration leading to a long, refined finish. It will benefit from 3-4 years of cellaring and drink well through 2020." -Wine Advocate
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.
The second time I tried this wine I tried an experiment I rarely try: I left a half full bottle open all night and tried it again. Wow! Not only was it not oxidized, as I feared, it was much better integrated and much better overall. Since exposure to air is a way to simulate aging, I think this wine can age well and will probably be 4 stars in a couple of years - not bad for under $20! I'm glad I still have several more bottles.
My goodness, I have never had to let a wine breathe before I could take a 2nd sip. It was sooo overwhelming.. finally, after 30 minutes, it was tolerable and didn't taste so bad. I bought it because it was on sale and I say for the sale price, it was worth it.
I first popped this open with some left over prime rib from which I made a sandwich. It blew me away, so I corked it and put it back in the cooler to save so my wife could share, stretched it over the next two meals, T Bone with grilled yellow peppers and tenderloin with a salad of field greens, stilton cheese, sun dried tomato and walnuts. Delightful, well worth the money and a great match.
I've had this wine before when it was stunning. When wine.com offered it for only $18, I bought several bottles. (I previously paid $30+.) At $18 it's a nice wine, but the 2006 is just good, not great. Typical Shiraz flavors, and you can taste the dash of Viognier. Also, it's not overoaked, as too many big red wines in this price range are. Nice for the price.
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 & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.