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d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2006

Rhone White Blends from McLaren Vale, Australia
  • WS90
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Winemaker Notes

Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2007!

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 complexity.

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
90 Points

Critical Acclaim

WS 90
Wine Spectator

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d'Arenberg

d'Arenberg

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d'Arenberg, , Australia
d'Arenberg
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.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

Other Red Blends

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With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.

PIN179886_2006 Item# 92113

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