d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2016
This iconic wine always displays the power and intensity of McLaren Vale Shiraz, yet has an elegance and refinement that few other wines from the region possess. It’s vibrant and lifted on the nose with bustling red fruits and savory spice. The palate is long, linear and pure with tightly wound tannin and mouth-watering acidity. Beneath the layers of blueberry, pomegranate, and Satsuma Plum is an intriguing core of earth and crushed rocks. If stored correctly, this wine should age for 15+ years.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Dead Arm is Chester Osborn’s paean to his old vines struggling with eutypa, a fungus that kills one of the canes, leaving the vine to produce a more limited and concentrated crop than its siblings of similar age. He makes this in small, open-top vats, foot-treading the fermenting must, then using a basket press and a mix of new and old French and American oak barrels to finish it. Bottled without fining or filtering, it’s a potent red that tastes like McLaren—ripe with sunbaked-strawberry and fresh purple fruit flavors, bold and intense yet floral, cool and friendly. The wine’s rich tannins feel supple and gentle, the structure firmed up by acidity. This is built to age for a decade or more.
Chester Osborn and his team’s red wines are rarely shy creatures, and this, one of the brand’s most famed wines, is no exception. Opening with a dense thicket of brambly berries imbued with Middle Eastern spices and mochalike oak characters, this leads to a palate that’s rich and round with a bit of heat from the alcohol. The tangy fruit and chiseled, taut tannins, however, save the day. This is a monster of a wine that shouldn’t be touched anytime soon. Drink 2025–2035.
d'Arenberg is one of the undisputed kings of Australian Shiraz and other Rhone varieties that have historically defined the region. A century on, their vineyards have grown to some 450 acres in McLaren Vale, including Shiraz dating back to d'Arenberg's first plantings in 1912, and nearly one-third of McLaren Vale's old bush-vine Grenache. Fourth generation winemaker, Chester Osborn, recently converted all of the family's vineyards to organics and biodynamics and moved to solar energy in the winery. All the while, in terms of winemaking, not much has changed--all the wines are basket-pressed, the reds foot-trodden during fermentation; everything is done in small batches, leading to an impressive array of bottlings every year, each showing a different facet of McLaren Vale terroir. Having been inducted into Wine & Spirits Magazine's Hall of Fame for earning a place on its Top 100 Wineries nine times, this accolade is a reflection of d'Arenberg's revered reputation worldwide.
Known for opulent red wines with intense power and concentration, McLaren Vale is home to perhaps the most “classic” style of Australian Shiraz. Vinified on its own or in Rhône Blends, these hot-climate wines are deeply colored and high in extract with signature hints of dark chocolate and licorice. Cabernet Sauvignon is also produced in a similar style.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”